Page 1

STRATEGIC VISION Volume 7, Issue 36


for Taiwan Security

February, 2018


ISSN 2227-3646

Finding a New Direction Australia’s Security Policy Evolves David Andre

Gauging Potential Conflict Philip Streich

Cyber-Threats and Challenges Yu-min Chang

China’s Provocative Flight Route Guang-chang Bian

Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy David Scott


Volume 7, Issue 36

for Taiwan Security w

February, 2018

Contents Australian security policy in the Pacific.........................................4

David Andre

Cyber-defense in the Taiwan Strait................................................11

Yu-min Chang

M503 flight route undermines Taiwan security............................ 16

Guang-chang Bian

Island disputes and prospects for escalation................................22

Philip Streich

Taiwan’s southbound strategy.......................................................27

David Scott

Submissions: Essays submitted for publication are not to exceed 2,000 words in length, and should conform to the following basic format for each 1200-1600 word essay: 1. Synopsis, 100-200 words; 2. Background description, 100-200 words; 3. Analysis, 800-1,000 words; 4. Policy Recommendations, 200-300 words. Book reviews should not exceed 1,200 words in length. Notes should be formatted as endnotes and should be kept to a minimum. Authors are encouraged to submit essays and reviews as attachments to emails; Microsoft Word documents are preferred. For questions of style and usage, writers should consult the Chicago Manual of Style. Authors of unsolicited manuscripts are encouraged to consult with the executive editor at before formal submission via email. The views expressed in the articles are the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of their affiliate institutions or of Strategic Vision. Manuscripts are subject to copyediting, both mechanical and substantive, as required and according to editorial guidelines. No major alterations may be made by an author once the type has been set. Arrangements for reprints should be made with the editor. Cover photograph of soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment conducting a dawn parachute jump into Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Rockhampton, as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre 2005 is courtesy of Bernard Pearson.

Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Aaron Jensen Associate Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Tiehlin Yen Yi-hua Kan Richard Hu Guang-chang Bian Chung-kun Ma Lipin Tien STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 7, Number 36, February, 2018, published under the auspices of the Center for Security Studies and National Defense University. All editorial correspondence should be mailed to the editor at STRATEGIC VISION, Center for Security Studies in Taiwan. No. 64, Wan Shou Road, Taipei City 11666, Taiwan, ROC. The editors are responsible for the selection and acceptance of articles; responsibility for opinions expressed and accuracy of facts in articles published rests solely with individual authors. The editors are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts; unaccepted manuscripts will be returned if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Photographs used in this publication are used courtesy of the photographers, or through a creative commons licence. All are attributed appropriately. Any inquiries please contact the Executive Editor directly via email at: Or by telephone at: +886 (02) 8237-7228 Online issues and archives can be viewed at our website: © Copyright 2018 by the Center for Security Studies. Articles in this periodical do not necessarily represent the views of either the TCSS, NDU, or the editors.

From The Editor


he editors and staff of Strategic Vision would like to wish our readers well this winter season. The AsiaPacific continues to undergo important developments. We hope that students and scholars in the academic community have the chance to keep up with these events. In support of that effort, we offer our latest edition of Strategic Vision. We open this issue with David Andre, a US Navy officer, who provides us with an insightful analysis of Australia’s maritime strategy. Next, Yu-min Chang, a professor at Taiwan’s National Defense University, takes a look at the cyber threats to Taiwan’s national security. Guang-chang Bian, a professor of strategy at Taiwan’s National Defense University, offers his views on the challenges posed by China’s new civilian flight route which passes through the Taiwan Strait. Next, Philip Streich, an assistant professor in the Human Sciences Program at Osaka University, analyzes the likelihood of conflict in the South China Sea. Finally, Dr. David Scott, a frequent lecturer at the NATO Defense College in Rome, examines the progress and challenges of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy. We hope you enjoy this issue, and look forward to bringing you the finest analysis and reporting on the issues of importance to security in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region. Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision

4  b 

photo: US Embassy Canberra Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, right, takes a selfie with US President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese Paramount Leader Xi Jinping.

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 36 (February, 2018)

Turnbull’s Choice Australian security policy evolves to face a rapidly changing Pacific region David Andre


eacting to Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper, a Chinese Defense ministry spokesperson cautioned Australia to get rid of its “old mentality in mind while having a new Asia Pacific in sight.” While these comments rank as some of the most benign in a recent series of caustic remarks, they do capture the essence of the maritime environment of South and East Asia: A boiling pot where competing historical narratives, rapidly changing geopolitics, and great power competition clash

in the East and South China Seas. As these issues are unprecedented, so too are the challenges they present. Too often, though, Australia’s policies have been characterized as a choice between the United States and China, but such a characterization is misleading and oversimplified. One thing is certain; Australia’s maritime policies in South and East Asia will have a significant impact on the countries of the Pacific region. In November 2017, the Australian government of

Lieutenant David Andre is an Intelligence and Liaison Officer who has worked onboard USS Enterprise and at AFRICOM, COMDESRON SEVEN in Singapore. He is currently serving at STRATCOM’s JFCC-IMD. He can be reached for comment at

Australian Security Policy b  5

Malcolm Turnbull released its new Foreign Policy White Paper—the first since 2003. This document describes a very different Asia-Pacific region than the one of 14 years ago, detailing a region where economic dynamism, great-power competition, and land and maritime border disputes are on the uptick. What appears from the White Paper is a resolute Australia, committed to stepping up its role in the security and prosperity of the Pacific. Nowhere is this resolve more salient than in the maritime domain, where disputed islands and maritime militarization threaten to undermine maritime security, destabilize the region, and create a polarized Pacific defined by the divergent security interests of the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This scenario is routinely presented as a Sophie’s Choice for the Australian government: a choice between the security brought by the United States—Australia’s strongest ally—and the economic prosperity promised by continued trade

and investment in China—now Australia’s biggest trading partner. This is a specious argument.

State of polarization The argument oversimplifies what is a much more nuanced situation and neglects the fact that Australia has already chosen a side. Though that choice was never between the United States and China; rather it was a choice in favor of a maritime security environment defined by multilateral institutions and a rules-based global order, which neither the United States nor China distinctly embodies. Characterizing Australia’s maritime policies in Asia as anything else is an attempt to force a state of polarization in the region.  The Asia-Pacific is a maritime domain of competing realities and compelling narratives. In the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, Australia offered a prac-

photo: Osvaldo Ortega Brigadier Damian Cantwell gives patches to participants of Exercise Kowari, at which soldiers from the United States, Australia, and China train together.


tical rendering of the geopolitical realities that define the Asia-Pacific. This rendering begins by acknowledging that the maritime superiority long enjoyed by the United States in the Pacific is now being contested by the PRC. Indeed, political, material, and budgetary constraints have placed and will continue to place a significant strain on US naval operations in the Pacific. This contrasts with China, where Xi Jinping holds an extraordinarily powerful position and possesses an economy to support his aggressive military modernization program. Certainly these realities have emboldened China, exemplified by Xi Jinping’s recent Party Congress speech, in which he referenced the construction progress China has made on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, saying, “no one should expect China to swallow anything that undermines its interests.” The relevance of these trends to Australia’s security and prosperity is undeniable. So, it should come as no surprise then that the Foreign Policy White Paper states that Australia must step up its efforts in the Asia-Pacific, specifically in regard to the maritime

disputes in the South China Sea. For Australia, there are geopolitical realities and historical narratives that impact its maritime policy in the Pacific. Foremost is the reality that the trajectories of China and the United States will continue toward increased competition and, potentially, direct conflict. Putting the debate over hegemonic aspirations aside, China is the most dominant regional power in East Asia and, by extension, the East and South China Seas. Little about this trajectory suggests that there will be a change in the coming decades.

Enduring allies Political climate notwithstanding, the United States and Australia are enduring allies, with a 2017 Lowy institute poll reporting a majority of Australians believe an alliance with the United States remains critical for security—again there is little to suggest that this will change. These trajectories intersect on the regional fault line of the South China Sea and put considerable pressure on Australia.

photo: Alexander Rector An infantryman with the New York Army National Guard poses with an American Flag during exercise Talisman Saber 2017 in Queensland, Australia.

Australian Security Policy b  7

photo: Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army of China march in a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Second, each country believes it is executing a rational strategy and so has no impetus to change. These rationales derive from deep-seated historical narratives. China believes that the post-WWII global order and the accompanying international norms developed independent of Asian input, and are thus not binding. This leads to a modernizing China that is looking to cast itself as a sidelined power merely assuming its rightful mantle. While there is some validity to this reasoning, there is a counter opinion that purports that the global order, regardless of its Western-centric origins, has allowed China to become the leading economic and military power in Asia. This explains the United States portraying itself as a stabilizing influence and champion of a rules-based international order. As with most national narratives, there is a pragmatic mixture of truth and revisionism involved. Alas, the naval strategies at play in the Pacific are a result of these beliefs and it is unlikely that Australia will change the mindset of either actor. Given this scenario, Australia’s balanced approach remains the best course of action

for realizing its interests and the interests of others. Portraying Australia’s Asian maritime policies as a choice between the security of the United States and the prosperity of China presents a false dilemma. Australia denounces such depictions, believing that an either/or characterization belies the complexity of Asia’s maritime issues. Unfortunately, such portrayals are common. In 2010, political scientist John Mearsheimer argued that it was inevitable that China’s rise would be seen as offensive in nature and that Australia would have no choice but to join the US-led balancing act.

A third choice More recently, in August 2016, a US military official offered a similar sentiment stating that “there’s going to have to be a decision as to which one [China or the United States] is more of a vital national interest for Australia.” With the recent release of the Foreign Policy White Paper, these calls have renewed in earnest, repeated to the point of cliché. Unfortunately, by


photo: Ryan Harper Sailors aboard the USS Stethem (DDG 63) operate as the primary assessment team during a general quarters drill in the South China Sea.

presenting a polarized view of the maritime domain, these assertions neglect a third choice—the choice of global order and international norms, which supports Australia’s national security better than either of the national strategies of the United States or China. Australia’s behavior represents a commitment to a multilateral Asia. A member and advocate of multilateral institutions throughout the Asia-Pacific, Australia maintains strong bilateral ties with many members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, (ASEAN), as well as rising powers India and Japan. While many write this off as the lot of a benign Middle Power, it comes with the power to tip the scales. Proof of this power was on display in China’s reaction to the new Foreign Policy White Paper. Despite its oblique references to maritime disputes, China’s Foreign Ministry was quick to chide Australia for

der the Turnbull administration, the message is the same: respect the international norms and rulesbased global order. In maritime Asia, this means allowing the free-flow of shipping through the East and South China seas. The message was present in the 2016 Defence White Paper, with calls to establish a Code of Conduct between China and ASEAN, to stop land reclamation, and uphold maritime rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

what it called “irresponsible commentary” and “propaganda.” Branding Australia’s foreign policy in such a manner represents China’s own coercive way of telling Australia that it must choose sides. It is also a harbinger of the difficulties that Australia will face as it attempts to navigate an increasingly unstable Asia. While Australia’s tone may be growing sterner un-

of the Philippines. Alongside these declarations are a series of practical, balanced statements representative of Australia’s position in the regional power dynamics. Julie Bishop’s statements in October 2016 asserting that Australia should seek to de-escalate tensions in the Pacific and not take sides exemplify this sentiment. The con-

Insistent tone Meanwhile, the increased military spending outlined in the Defence White Paper signaled a more insistent tone emerging in Australia’s Foreign policy. Australia struck a similar tone in July 2016, when reacting to the South China Sea arbitration, which ruled in favor

Australian Security Policy b  9

tinual efforts to goad Australia into choosing sides disrespects Canberra’s strategy and risks removing an important actor’s ability to maintain balance in the Pacific. For just as Beijing’s vision of its regional role continues to expand, so too must Australia’s. Though Australia has yet to conduct any Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP), like the United States has consistently done, the Royal Australian Navy’s presence has been steadily increasing in the region. Indo-Pacific Endeavour, Australia’s largest joint task group to sail in the Indo-Pacific region in 40 years, puts action to the words detailed in the foreign policy document. The 11-week long deployment involved ASEAN partners Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, as well as regional actors such as Japan, India, Micronesia, and East Timor.

Fundamental to peace As Australia’s physical role expands, so too does its affirmation of international order. Speaking about Indo-Pacific Endeavor, Minister of Defense Marise

Payne referenced the ongoing disputes, saying, “Maintaining the rule of law and respecting the sovereignty of nations large and small is fundamental to continued peace and stability in our region.” In addition to Indo-Pacific Endeavour, Australia participated in a joint exercise with the United States and South Korea in November 2017. These exercises

“Australia shows its commitment to the maritime domain as well as the international order.” came on the heels of an agreement on joint maritime patrols with the Philippines in Western Mindanao. In addition to conducting joint maritime operations throughout the region, Australia has steadily increased defense dialogues among ASEAN countries. In early November 2017, Australia concluded the first iteration of a new defense dialogue with Vietnam, which builds on increasingly stronger defense ties that have been building for a decade. There is also a deepening of the maritime relationship with Indonesia, Australia’s nearest ASEAN partner and

photo: Bahudhara The HMAS Hobart while under construction by ASC Ltd at Osborne in South Australia on 10 April, 2015.


a unique actor in the South China Sea disputes. In perhaps its most concrete act, Australia routinely conducts Maritime Patrols to contest China’s attempt to establish an Air Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea. Lastly, the September 2017 commissioning of the HMAS Hobart signaled the entry of a new class of Destroyers to support the intent of stepping-up engagement in the Pacific. Australia’s steady expansion of its maritime role in the Asia-Pacific still allows room for engagement with China. In August 2017, Australia and China concluded the 20th iteration of their annual Defense Strategic Dialogue in Canberra. The dialogue acknowledged the importance of regional peace and stability in the South China Sea. Through this wide breadth of strategic dialogues and maritime exercises and operations, Australia shows its commitment to the maritime domain as well as the international order. So far, the realignment of power in the AsiaPacific has been without direct conflict.

When it comes to the Pacific, the reality is Australia has placed international order at the forefront of its national security. As the Pacific’s maritime domain continues to evolve and the strategic stability of the post WWII-era is challenged, Australia’s policies toward the region will undoubtedly develop to meet this challenge. Considering Australia’s growing importance to the region, any actions Australia takes will undoubtedly have a significant impact on its regional partners. As such, attempts at polarizing Australia’s maritime policy will only worsen the divide. As more and more nations feel compelled to choose sides, the likelihood of consensus drives down and the possibility of a bifurcated maritime domain rise. So, when it comes to the United States and China, Australia has not taken sides, nor is it in anyone’s best interests to do so. So far, the realignment of power in the Asia-Pacific has been without direct conflict and Australia plays an integral role in keeping it as such. n

photo: Murray Foubister A sunset lightning storm lights up the sky at Denham, Western Australia.

b  11

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 36 (February, 2018)

Persistent Threat

Taiwan’s security architecture must evolve to meet growing cyber-threats Yu-min Chang

photo: ROC Presidential Office ROC President Tsai Ing-wen, seen here speaking at a defense industry meeting, has taken a number of steps to strengthen Taiwan’s national defense.


n response to globalization and informatization, governments and enterprises heavily rely on the Internet for online management and service in cyberspace, and for remote and online management of their critical infrastructure. Therefore, cyberspace has become a critical dimension that terrorist organizations utilize to attack target countries and people. This form of cyber-attack can cause greater damage than a traditional attack given that its stealth characteristics and the power of networkwide influence easily penetrate the wall of traditional national security. Therefore, improving the capabilities of cyber-security is a critical priority for Taiwan’s

national security. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the United States and discussed an agreement to manage cyber-weapons. The degree of importance the two countries placed on limiting cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure was similar to agreements which limit the use of biochemical and nuclear weapons. Both China and the United States promised not to use cyber-weapons to paralyze each other’s critical infrastructure during peacetime. Vikram Singh, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia at the Pentagon, noted that this agreement was the first time that cyberspace had

Dr. Yu-min Chang is a Lecturer at the Taiwan Police College. He can be reached for comment at chang0302@


been treated as a strategic issue, similar to biochemical and nuclear weapons. This agreement was aimed at preventing attacks on power plants, banking systems, communication networks, and medical institutions.

Hacked and invaded In October 2017, North Korean cyber-forces infiltrated South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense and obtained continphoto: Melanie Cox gency plans for capturing North Virtual simulation tools on display at the 2016 Air Force Information and Cyber Technology Conference. Korean President Kim Jong Un. Rhee Cheol-hee, a member of the South Korean govand provocations from the north. ernment’s parliamentary defense committee, revealed In view of these attacks, it is increasingly clear that that the Defense Integrated Data Center in South the lack of global coordination in law enforcement Korea had been hacked and invaded, and 235 gigato combat cyber-crime will lead to an increasingly bytes of data was stolen in September 2016. Among dangerous cyber environment. As networks between this stolen data, 226 class-2 and 42 class-3 military criminals, terrorists and some governments deepen, confidential files were compromised. In addition, 295 governments and the public will be put at an everconfidential files were also stolen. greater risk, which will negatively impact economic Furthermore, OPLAN 5015, the key military plan development, as well as public safety and well-being. for the defense of South Korea, was also compromised. This plan includes detailed information on High-level threat potential decapitation operations against top North Korean leaders, which encompasses identifying and Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, has premonitoring the movement and locations of Kim Jong dicted that threats in cyberspace and maintaining Un, the method of blocking the safe houses of North cyber-security will become the highest level of naKorea’s top echelons, air raid operations, and the four tional security in the next few years, given it is already steps of reunification after capturing and removing used for terrorist activities. Terrorist organizations these top leaders. In addition, data related to critiare expected to increase their use of cyber-attacks, cal infrastructure and details of military meetings which will necessitate further cooperation in interbetween South Korean Armed Forces and the US national cyber-security. military regarding operations of United Freedom Experts in the national security and anti-terrorGuardian were also stolen. This not only jeopardizes ism fields have studied the characteristics of cyberpotential operations against North Korea, but also threats and identified six attributes and threats. makes South Korea more vulnerable to new threats The first type of threat comes from unitary actors:

Persistent Threat  b  13

Individuals working alone have a wide range of motivations which include personal financial gain, as well as political, social, or religious motivation. A skilled hacker can launch remote attacks and hide his true identity and location.

Impossible to detect A second challenging aspect of cyber-threats is that they are nearly invisible. For anti-terrorist organizations such as the police and intelligence agencies, this kind of action is almost impossible to detect and therefore pursue. The motivation is also difficult to discern. The difficulties of investigating crimes in cyberspace are akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Hackers use backdoor methods to infect computer systems and then implant malware, after which they can quietly achieve their objectives. Given that malicious programs update quickly, it is difficult for anyone to detect and prevent these attacks. The third challenge of cyber-security is that of shifting ideologies and motivations among groups

which conduct cyber-attacks. Cyber-criminals, hacker groups, and terrorist networks often have multiple ideologies and varied motivations. Therefore it is difficult to determine what other criminal or terrorist groups they may be connected with.

“China is aggressively targeting military, political, technological and industrial targets in other countries.” A further challenge for national security agencies and law enforcement is the difficulty in characterizing threat groups. The difference between hackers and terrorists is sometimes difficult to distinguish. The character and motivations of hacker groups and terrorists is often uncertain given the lack of information available on these groups.

Continual threat Another attribute of cyber-threats is that they are conducted on a continual basis. Automated attacks

photo: Alejandro Pena Crews at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson clear snow from the flight line as a C-5 Galaxy looms in the background.


photo: Xuán shisheng Soldiers enter camp at the ROC Army’s Taitung Regional Command Battalion after the completion of a combat exercise.

provide a persistent threat. This presents a challenge to fixing systems that have crashed because they are not able to reload and fix the crash. Finally, cyber-criminals and hackers belong to a sub-community where technology and hacking resources are shared and disseminated. This subgroup can draw in less committed hackers and expose them

to a process of radicalization, where they are drawn deeper into the hacker community and mentality.

tions need to do much more to increase their security. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has a highly developed system of hackers and cyber specialists. China is aggressively targeting military, political, technological, and industrial targets in other countries. Similarly, China has also achieved success in exploiting Taiwan’s networks. In particular, China has been successful against Taiwan by exploiting social engineering. This has enabled PRC cyber operatives to install viruses which have the ability to paralyze key networks in Taiwan, thereby causing a direct threat to government and civilian safety. The PRC takes its own cyber-security very seriously. In 2016, the Cyber-security Law of the People’s Republic of China was passed, and it went into effect on 1 June, 2017. This law not only regulates the

The above characteristics make it difficult for intelligence organizations to collect information on perpetrators and create a clear view of the larger problem. Advance warning is difficult, and often impossible to provide and the actions of hackers are also difficult to detect. Faced with such a difficult threat, most na-

leading agency of development and management of the technologies and activities in cyberspace but also requires relevant units to coordinate with the leading agency. These units are authorized to adopt proper and necessary measures to prevent crimes in cyberspace. Although this law has been criticized

“The government in Taiwan must urgently formulate an appropriate response to manage cyberspace and to maintain the nation’s cybersecurity.”

Persistent Threat  b  15

for violating personal privacy and civil liberties in China, Beijing’s proactive actions to maintain control over security in cyberspace offers valuable points for consideration.

Appropriate response The government in Taiwan must urgently formulate an appropriate response to manage cyberspace and to maintain the nation’s cyber-security. Unlike in China, a unified and integrated law and mechanism for managing cyberspace and maintaining cyber-security is absent in Taiwan. The top guiding organization in Taiwan is the National Information and Communication Security Taskforce, which is formed by relevant units and operates as a committee. However, the regulating rules of this committee are lower than laws and regulations. Therefore, the decisions of this committee are difficult to put into effect given that departmental rivalry and selfishness is generally a factor in most government agencies.

Therefore a more authoritative set of laws is necessary to solve the problem. Given that the National Security Act is the top document that standardizes national security laws, it is important to incorporate mechanisms for maintaining cyber-security into this law. The potential damage from cyberspace is too great to ignore since numerous intrusion activities have occurred, and the rate of them is increasing. It is fair to say that the National Security Act requires further refinement to combat cyber-terrorism and potential harm caused by cyber-attacks. In order to enhance the coverage of the Act, four additional steps should be implemented. First, include measures for a greater focus on anti-terrorism and intelligence work in the act. Second, strengthen overall national management of cyberspace. Third, include cyber-security in the National Security Act. And fourth, establish an agency to deal with cyber-security. By taking these steps, Taipei will be better able to meet growing cyber-threats from the PRC. n

photo: Tracy Smith The US Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence, Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, hosts a multi-service NetWar to build cyber Warrior capabilities.

16  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 36 (February, 2018)

Raising Tensions

China’s unilateral imposition of new flight route undermines Taiwan security Guang-chang Bian


n early January, the Civil Aviation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) officially announced the activation of a new flight route and its connecting airways to three adjacent cities. Given that the route, labeled M503, passes extremely close to the center line of the Taiwan Strait, the government of the Republic of China (ROC) found the action unacceptable. While ostensibly a measure to alleviate air traffic around southeast China, it is viewed by Taiwan analysts as an offensive measure, and a threat to both Taiwan’s sovereignty and safety. In response to the activation of the M503 flight

route, Chang Hsiao-yueh, director of the Mainland Affairs Council, held a press conference on 4 January to lodge a stern protest against the new flight route for not consulting with Taiwan. She also claimed that these actions not only severely endangered flight safety in the affected airspace, but also alluded to the PRC’s barely concealed unfriendly strategic and political intentions. In order to alleviate the flight safety risk and maintain the dignity of Taiwan, Chung asserted that China needs to take full responsibility for the negative impact on cross-strait relations. Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration also asked commercial airlines not to use these routes,

photo: VOA ROC President Tsai Ing-wen has been a strong supporter of national defense and has criticized Beijing for not consulting Taiwan on the M503 flight route.

Colonel Guang-chang Bian is a professor at the ROC National Defense University. He can be reached for comment at:

Raising Tensions  b  17

graphic: Jpatokal The density and complexity of international flight routes is revealed in this graphic depicting major flight routes throughout the globe.

threatening punitive measures against offenders. However, none of the commercial airlines heeded the warning given that markets in China are highly profitable. Following Chung’s press conference, President Tsai Ing-wen called a national security meeting on January 7th to respond to the M503 issue and made five statements: Her statements essentially condemned China’s unilateral activation of the disputed airways and urged China to reopen negotiations on the issue, emphasizing the importance of flight safety.

Broader context The controversy over the M503 flight route must be viewed against the backdrop of broader cross-strait relations. Since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in Taipei in 2016, the PRC has put a chill on relations with Taiwan. At the crux of the problem is how the two sides view the cross-strait relationship: While the PRC wants Taiwan to agree

to the so-called 1992 Consensus, the DPP accepts a more vague concept that they refer to as the “Spirit of the 1992 Consensus.” The PRC has been putting pressure on the Tsai administration to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, and the recent announcement of the M503 flight route is viewed as part of this effort to punish Taiwan. Since coming to power, the DPP has refused to acknowledge that there was indeed any consensus reached on the One China concept during the KooWang talks in 1992. They have, however, insisted that the two sides should set aside their differences and open a dialogue to address issues of mutual interest, in the spirit of how this was accomplished back in 1992. The 1992 Consensus says that there is “one China,” but “two interpretations.” It is a concept that was developed in 2000 by politician Su Chi in an attempt to bridge the gap between the differences in how the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) view the One China principle. In the


photo: Henrickson Headquarters of the ICAO in Montreal, Canada. Taiwan was not invited to attend meetings, risking conflict such as the M503 situation.

aforementioned talks, held in Hong Kong in 1992, in order to surmount the obstacle wherein the government in Beijing insists that dialogue can only proceed after both sides bend the knee to the one China principle, the KMT delegation agreed to do so in vague terms, with the two sides differing privately on whether the “one China” in question is the PRC or the ROC.

Problematic setbacks Although this consensus has been seen as a foundation of mutual trust across the Taiwan Strait in previous years, President Tsai and DPP still reject it as potentially restrictive, as well as improperly giving the impression that Taiwan can be viewed as a part of China. A problematic setback for Taiwan was being barred from participating in the 39th Triennial Assembly at the International Civil Aviation Organization

(ICAO) in Montreal, Canada. Given that Taiwan is not a member of the ICAO, which is subordinate to the United Nations and is in charge of global civil aviation, Taiwan was originally not recognized by the ICAO and has had no access to it until 2013. That year, Taiwan was invited as a special guest to the assembly. As this invitation was based on China’s connivance and good will, it was condemned by the DPP for not using Taiwan’s proper title and global recognition. However, this invitation is still regarded as an outstanding achievement of the KMT regime in global recognition and participation. The failure to receive an invitation to attend the ICAO Assembly 2016 became an indicator of the DPP’s capability to maintain Taiwan’s global recognition and prosperity. Despite the fact that this failure was regarded as a signal from China to compel the DPP to accept the 1992 Consensus to serve Beijing’s political needs, the lack of ICAO participation could lead to potential hazards to both military and civil

Raising Tensions  b  19

aviation. On 12 January, 2015, the Shanghai Air Traffic Control Centre (ACC) issued a notification informing airliners that flights flying from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Hong Kong Magog and from Qingdao Liuting Airport to Singapore, Hong Kong, or Macau should be diverted to the new route M503 at certain altitudes, beginning 4 March, 2015. According to the notification, all flights were required to fly parallel to the M503 at a distance of four nautical miles.

was the first advanced route in China, sufficient information and data on this route was collected in order to improve flight operations. Although this new flight route is meant to improve flight safety and

“Taiwan’s exclusion might create potential hazards, especially since some airlines and pilots are not familiar with the sensitive political nature of the Taiwan Strait.”

First advanced route The implementation of M503 aims to relieve overloaded air traffic in Southeast China. The planning of this new route was initiated in 2007 to cope with the increasing air traffic in Southeast China. The US Federal Aviation Administration also assisted in the development of this new route. According to the Minutes of the First Review Conference on the Main Navigation Traffic in the South China Sea hosted by ICAO’s Asia Pacific Division in Kuala Lumpur, M503

reduce delays, the geographic location of the M503 produces challenges to Taiwan’s air defense, and reduces airspace for ROC Air Force training. The M503 flight route does not pass through either Taiwan’s national airspace or the controlled airspace of the Taipei ACC. Taiwan is not considered a relevant party and has no legal position to raise any objection to the planning and implementation of this route. Furthermore, during the planning and design phase of this route, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) of

photo: Pedro Aragão A Boeing 747-409 in the China Airlines fleet, Taiwan’s national carrier, in flight over Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.


the United States assisted China in confirming the safety and feasibility of establishing this route. This assistance implies that the official position of the United States favors the implementation of M503. Other agencies, such as the International Federation of Civil Aviation Pilots’ Associations, the Chinese Air Transport Association, International Air Transport Association and other related organizations also supported implementation. However, Taiwan was excluded from discussions.

Creating hazards Although the Taiwan FIR has the position to claim that the flights along the M503 might require assistance from the Taipei ACC in severe weather or unanticipated situations, Taiwan has no chance to put forth this claim without the right to participate in official ICAO meetings. Taiwan’s exclusion might create potential hazards, especially since some airlines and pilots are not familiar with the sensitive political

nature of the Taiwan Strait. The political situation between Taiwan and China is becoming tense. If pilots and airlines are not familiar with this reality, and if they must undertake changes to their flight opera-

“Taiwan needs to shift its argument from political and military confrontation to that of practical air traffic control issues.” tions, or encounter unique situations while traveling on M503, they may inadvertently cause Taiwan’s air defense system to react. Historically, airline tragedies have occurred when civilian flights have strayed into military areas. The infamous Korean Airlines Flight 007 accident is an example of this sort of tragedy. In 1983, a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 mistakenly entered Russia’s airspace and was shot down by a Russian interceptor. This accident directly caused 269 fatalities. Participating in ICAO meetings is essential to avoiding these kinds of mistakes. Although Taiwan has

photo: George Chernilevsky A Soviet interceptor aircraft on display at the Ukrainian Air Force Museum in Vinnitsa. A similar fighter shot down Korean airlines flight 007 in 1983.

Raising Tensions  b  21

photo: Lienyuan Lee Travelers at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the main point of entry. The M503 route puts civilian flights at risk of military misidentification.

claimed that the political and strategic environment across the Taiwan Strait is unique and requires more attention than just flight safety, this issue could not be raised during the planning and designing of the new route. The implementation of M503 has caused the military training areas of the air forces of both Taiwan and China to shrink.

Limited airspace In order to maintain flight safety, air force fighters need to be more cautious about ensuring enough separation from civilian flights. Unlike China, Taiwan has limited airspace for military training, and it is difficult to find alternative airspace. Therefore the constraints introduced by the new route are more harmful to Taiwan than to China. Although adjusting the overall civilian flight route layout in Taiwan might increase the training space for the ROC Air Force, this action cannot be taken without the coordination of relevant parties, and the permission of ICAO. Taiwan has little ability and in-

fluence to improve flight safety and thereby ensure its national security. Therefore, Taiwan needs to urge relevant parties to help it participate in the ICAO. The activation of this airway is not only in line with China’s economic interests, but is also supported by relevant international civil aviation organizations. Claims and statements from Taiwan’s government simply amount to internal political noise. The international audience, especially civil aviation sectors, will not only support China, but view Taiwan as unreasonable if it continues to issue political threats against commercial airlines. Therefore, Taiwan needs to shift its argument from political and military confrontation, to that of practical air traffic control issues. One possible option for Taiwan would be to lobby the ICAO to slightly adjust the location of the nearby international flight route L1, closer to M503. This would produce more airspace for Taiwan’s air force to utilize for training purposes. It would also give Taiwan an opportunity to participate more in ICAO meetings and planning. n

22  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 36 (February, 2018)

Statistical Solace

Territorial disputes originating at sea less likely to lead to military escalation Philip Streich

photo: US DOD File Photo Chinese dredging vessels around Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands in a still image from video taken by a US Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft.


hina’s militarization of the Spratly Islands has included the installation of weapons systems, airstrips, helipads, barracks, and other infrastructure. These actions, coupled with rival claimants’ responses and other developments in the maritime area, have given rise to many discussions about the increasing possibility of military conflict in the region. Even conflict short of an all-out war could have great ramifications for trade and cooperation in the region. Adding to this

the link between territorial disputes and the outbreak of interstate wars. Covering 177 wars from 1648 to 1989, Kalevi Holsti’s research finds that territorial issues are cited more than any other reason, and John Vasquez shows that territorial disputes have played a role in 80 to 90 percent of all wars. Simply put, territorial disputes are the most frequently cited factor in the start of interstate wars. Yet not all territorial disputes are created equal, which begs the question: Do territorial disputes over

possibility, China has reportedly begun work that could possibly replicate the military buildup in the Paracel Islands. There is strong, established, empirical support for

islands escalate as much as those over continental territory? Islands are on average more difficult to access and defend for most of the world’s militaries. They also tend to be very small and have fewer resources

Dr. Philip Streich is a Specially Appointed Assistant Professor in the Human Sciences Program at Osaka University. He can be reached for comment at

Island Disputes  b  23

photo: John Gordinier Attendees pay their respects with a wreath laying ceremony at the Marines memorial to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Wake Island.

than continental territory, so whatever makes states fight over territory might have less of an effect when the disputed territory is an island. This is not meant to downplay the great material value attached to particular islands in the South China Sea, particularly given their potential role in supporting claims to maritime resources if claimants can exercise sovereignty over the islands. There are an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under the seabed and valuable (though depleting) fisheries in the waters around the disputed islands. However, there is undoubtedly greater value attached to continental territory, which typically not only possesses great material resources but also intangible salience such as serving as homeland territory. The Issues Correlates of War (ICOW) project collects data on all territorial claims between 1816 and 2001 and integrates Correlates of War (COW) data on wars and militarized interstate disputes. Militarized interstate disputes (MIDs) are a level of conflict escalation that falls short of the definition of war. Overall, statistical analyses using this data show that island disputes are less likely to escalate to war than con-

tinental territorial disputes. Island disputes are also less likely to escalate into MIDs with military fatalities. Island disputes however are roughly equally likely to experience non-fatal MIDs as continental territorial disputes. The ICOW data only goes up to 2001, however. To make up for this gap, a further investigation using news

“Island disputes are less likely to lead to wars or militarized escalations with fatalities that fall short of actual war than non-island disputes.” sources was conducted on events in the South China Sea between 2001 and December 2016. The results show a steep increase in MIDs with 25 MIDs taking place over the 15-year period, compared to 34 MIDs over the previous century in the South China Sea. The ICOW dataset is aggregated by pairs of states (aka dyads), with one being the challenger and the other being the current holder of the territory, or the target. Disputes involving multiple actors (such as the Spratly Islands) are listed for each challenger-target


photo: Richard Mcall A fishing boat on the beach in the Philippine province of Palawan. The disputed islands in the South China Sea are known to contain abundant resources.

dyad. The ICOW dataset starts in the year 1816, but the data used here has been partitioned to only include disputes that began after 1 January, 1900. Three independent variables are tested in three models, each with its own dependent variable (MIDs, MIDs with fatalities, and war). The three independent variables are island, territorial salience, and as a control variable, major power. The following summarizes these variables: “War” refers to the number of wars in each dyad (requiring at least 1,000 combat deaths). “MIDs” are the number of militarized interstate disputes for each dyad. MIDs represent an escalation of the dispute with a new threat, display, or use of military force. An MID can be a single incident or can consist of several similar incidents repeated on a continuous basis without any long breaks. A break of six months discontinues an MID. “MIDs with a fatality” are just that: MIDs with at least one battle death, but fewer than the 1,000 required to count as a war. “Island” indicates whether or not the disputed territory is an island. “Territorial salience” is an ICOW-derived additive index ranging from 1 to 12 based on whether any of the following exist: economic resources, strategic location, permanent population (at least 100,000), homeland territory, an identity basis for the claim, and historical sov-

ereignty over the claimed territory. “Major power” indicates whether the challenger or target or both are major powers for at least half of the duration of the territorial dispute, as defined by the Correlates of War (COW). It should be noted that this analysis only covers territorial disputes, not disputes over control of any bodies of water. Island disputes are classified as disputes over islands on the open seas, excluding disputes over river and lake islands, which are coded as continental territorial disputes.

Likelihood of force Territorial salience has positive, statistically significant coefficients for each model. So the greater a territory’s value, the more likely there will be MIDs, MIDs with fatalities, and wars. The greater the value of the territory (island or continental) they are disputing, the more likely states are to resort to the use of military force. No relationship was found between MIDS and whether a disputed territory is an island. The interesting result here is what happens in the next two models, MIDs with fatalities and war: The coefficients for island become negative and statistically

Island Disputes  b  25

significant in each. Thus, while island disputes could experience greater non-fatal militarized escalation than non-island disputes (we do not know for sure, since island is not is not statistically significant for MIDs), we can say that island disputes are less likely to escalate into fatal MIDs and wars than non-island territorial disputes. Major power shows a negative, statistically significant relationship with MIDs, only to change sign and have a positive relationship with war (it is not statistically significant for MIDs with fatalities). This means that when major powers are involved in the dispute, non-fatal militarized escalation is less likely, whereas war becomes more likely. This could mean that major powers in general do not engage as much in smallerscale escalations (MIDs), but once they decide on military action, an actual war is more likely to ensue. Overall, those concerned by the prospect of escalation due to the island disputes in the South China Sea should be relieved by these results. They tell us

that island disputes are on average less dangerous than non-island disputes; that is, island disputes are less likely to lead to wars or militarized escalations with fatalities that fall short of actual war than nonisland disputes. On the other hand, the South China Sea island disputes involve a major power: China. This increases the likelihood of war. The South China Sea island disputes in the dataset involve relatively valuable islands: the Spratly and Paracel Islands have salience scores of eight in the dataset: a little bit above the mean salience score of all disputed territories. The disputed islands are also all proximate to the involved states, meaning even the weaker states can (and do) involve their militaries. One major problem with the above analysis is that the ICOW data is updated only up to 2001 and the island disputes in the South China Sea have witnessed a troublesome increase in MIDs since then. For the final analysis, this project updates the data on conflict

photo: Declan Barnes The guided missile cruiser USS Antietam conducts a replenishment at sea with the dry cargo ship USNS Charles Drew in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.


escalation for the South China Sea between January 2002 and December 2016 using news media sources.

Dispute escalation In total, 25 cases of dispute escalation in the South China Sea—the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and Scarborough Shoal—have been found. All 25 incidents are non-fatal MIDs. Thirteen of the incidents (52 percent) involved government vessels on one side and civilian fishing boats on the other. Nine of these thirteen fishing boat incidents involved Chinese government vessels. Per COW’s rules, incidents involving privately owned vessels on one side, such as fishing boats, must be followed by a protest from the government of the fishing boats to be counted as an MID. From the ICOW data, there were 32 MIDs, two MIDs with fatalities, and no wars associated with the Spratlys and Paracels between 1900 and 2001 (Scarborough Shoal became a disputed territory after 2001). The two MIDs with fatalities were the Battle of the Paracel Islands between China and South Vietnam on January 19, 1974, and the Johnson Reef Skirmish between China and Vietnam on March 14,

1988. These two fights between China and Vietnam are the closest that Asian states have come to war over islands in the South China Sea. Fatal MIDs aside, with 25 MIDs in just 15 years, the escalation in the South China Sea is quickly approaching the total for the previous century. However, the fact that there has been a relative decline in incidents thus far since December 2016 is encouraging. While the overall trend in MIDs since 2002 is still dangerous, the results of the analysis here tell us that island disputes are still generally less likely to escalate to war than other territorial disputes. There is reason to be concerned about militarization of the South China Sea. Territorial disputes are, after all, the most frequent cause of war in history. However, this analysis shows that states are less likely to fight over islands. Recent years have shown an increase in dispute escalation in the South China Sea. Further research is needed to gain deeper insights into conflict processes in the South China Sea, and studies are currently being conducted to explore why island disputes might differ from continental disputes with a focus on how distance and relative naval capabilities affects states’ decision-making. n

photo: Richard PEbensberger A pair of US Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron fly a mission through the South China Sea.

b  27

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 36 (February, 2018)

Southern Focus

Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy provides alternatives to reliance on China David Scott


n 13 December, 2017, the Vice President of the Republic of China (ROC) Chen Chien-jen attended the Taiwan-US-Japan Trilateral Security Dialogue (TSD), a meeting coorganized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There he described how Taiwan was “strengthening ties with the Indo-Pacific region by mapping out a regional role for Taiwan through the New Southbound Policy (NSP).” Originally conceived as a trade policy, the New Southbound Policy Chen was referring to opens up the Indo-Pacific region not just for increased trade, but it represents new strategic horizons for Taiwan as well. At her inauguration address on 20 May, 2016, ROC President Tsai Ing-wen announced “we will promote a ‘New Southbound Policy’ in order to elevate the scope and diversity of our external economy, and to bid farewell to our past over-reliance on a single market.” This policy was aimed at avoiding the danger of economic and political dependency on the market of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)—a dependency that deepened after the 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with Beijing was put into place by her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou. Tsai was clear in her National Day address on 10 October, 2017, that “the purpose of the ‘New

for Taiwan to operate in. In an interview with the Indian media on 5 May, Tsai asserted that the NSP was just a simple matter of trade economics: “The New Southbound Policy is about how we can build more mutually beneficial relationships with the community here in Asia,” she said. “It’s taking another look at how Taiwan can play a more proactive role. Let me repeat: It is not about geopolitics. It is about economics and trade.” However, if Taiwan gets other governments in the region to sign official economic deals, then this has political implications as well, not the least of which is the implicit recognition of Taiwan’s competence to act as a sovereign entity in state-to-state relationships.

Southbound Policy’ is for us to hold a more advantageous position in international society.” “Position” is the key word here, since pressure from the PRC was shaping an ever-shrinking “international space”

especially India and Australia. A further distinctive feature of Taiwan’s NSP initiative is the inclusion of an effort to develop sub-state, transnational, cityto-city links.

Renewed effort The current effort is not the first attempt by leaders in Taiwan to diversify investments and stave off a dangerous overdependence on Chinese economic integration. The “Go South Policy” initiated in the 1990s under President Lee Teng-hui focused on Taiwan’s investments and economic presence in Southeast Asia. Tsai’s NSP seeks two-way economic links, pursues cultural as well as economic links, and not only focuses on Southeast Asia but also on South Asia,

Dr. David Scott is a regular presenter on Indo-Pacific geopolitics at the NATO Defense College in Rome and a prolific writer. He can be reached at


photo: ROC Presidential Office ROC President Tsai Ing-wen shakes hands with former President Lee Teng-hui in 2016. Both leaders have initiated trade policies that look South.

On 11 December, 2017, the ROC Office of Trade Negotiations published a pamphlet titled On the New Southbound Policy: A Practical Approach Moving Full Steam Ahead. The subtitle was apt: Statistics for 2017 show that people-to-people exchanges have been a success, with significant growth in tourism and student exchanges. Arrivals from the NSP-target states rose 27.3 percent to 2.28 million in 2017, exceeding the annual target of 1.8 million.

Exports growing Economic and trade collaboration has likewise been quite successful. During 2017, Taiwan’s exports to the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) increased 14.2 percent to US$58.6 billion, and exports to the six South Asian nations increased by 13.49 percent to US$5.23 billion. Exports to Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, increased a mere 1.6 percent, to US$3.57 billion. Taiwan seeks to upgrade and expand its existing Bilateral Investment Agreements (BIAs) with India,

Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, and to sign new BIAs with other countries. However, Taiwan faces rising concerns about the Chinese reaction to official institutional links with NSP-target countries. This has already materialized with regard to Taiwan’s agreements with the Philippines and India. Seven pacts with Manila on trade and investment were signed by private and public organizations on 7 December, 2017, following the 23rd TaiwanPhilippines Joint Economic Conference. Quasiofficial linkages were present in the agreement on bilateral investment signed by Gary Song-Huann Lin, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines, and Angelito Tan Banayo, head of the de facto embassy of the Philippines in Taiwan. The Chinese response to these quasi-official signings was immediate. The PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Geng Shuang held a press conference on 8 December, 2017, to express “grave concern over the signing of the investment protection agreement and other co-

New Southbound Policy  b  29

operation documents that are obviously official in character between the relevant Philippine authority and the Taiwan authority.” A further accord, in the sensitive areas of border control and the training of law enforcement officers, was signed in January 2018 between Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau and the Philippine Bureau of Customs.

Indian ties With regard to India, Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were agreed to at the Taiwan-India Industrial Collaboration Summit on 12 October, 2017, with various industrial associations of Taiwan and India representing the two countries. Quasi-official involvement was present on 14 December, 2017, when their respective unofficial embassies, namely the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India and the

India-Taipei Association, signed an MoU on Industry Collaboration. Taiwanese and Indian government officials were also present, with the Deputy Director General of the ROC Bureau of Foreign Trade GuannJyh Lee and the Joint Secretary of India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry Vandana Kumar in attendance. On 24 January, 2018, two further MoUs were signed between the Taiwanese and Indian trade promotion groups. Bilateral trade between Taiwan and India increased an impressive 27 percent in 2017. Communist Party leaders in Beijing made their feelings clear with the headline “India cozies up to Taiwan in foolish move” running in the Party mouthpiece, the Global Times, on 19 December 2017. In a two-fold attack, the Global Times railed against the ROC leadership, opining that “it is a classic move of Tsai Ing-wen and the ‘ruling’ Democratic Progressive Party, as they constantly tout their dangerous political

graphic: Antichik The original nations involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership. After his election as US president, Donald Trump withdrew America’s participation.


agenda of ‘Taiwan-independence’,” and against India, warning that “China does not take such situations related to its core interests lightly.” The NSP represents an Indo-Pacific strategy for widening Taiwan’s regional horizons away from East Asia and the looming, increasingly threatening presence of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan’s attempt to shape closer economic relations with other countries in Southeast Asia, Australasia, and South Asia is a form of geoeconomic and geopolitical balancing towards Beijing. It is also a geocultural repositioning, casting Taiwan as an Indo-Pacific maritime state rather than a part of a China-centric conception of East Asia. Taiwan has free trade agreements (FTAs) with Singapore and New Zealand, but its hopes for obtaining free-trade agreements may best be served by suitable Indo-Pacific regional frameworks. Any hope of an official linkage with ASEAN remains blocked by the PRC; with Chinese hostility also cutting off Taiwanese participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations. However, Taiwan can look to other platforms, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Since US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from negotiations in 2017, the TPP has been formally re-created by states that are still interested in forming the trade bloc, and in establishing a trading regime to counter the China-controlled RCEP. These states include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

TPP membership key In an op-ed that appeared in the 9 August, 2016, edition of the Taipei Times, Darson Chiu, deputy director of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research’s Macroeconomic Forecasting Center, argued that “TPP membership will not only help Taiwan signif-

icantly expand its much needed free-trade pact, but also make its southbound policy more effective.” The advantage for Taiwan with the TPP is that China is not a member, and so it cannot block Taiwan in the way that it can, and has done, with regard to other multilateral initiatives such as ASEAN and the RCEP. States concerned about China’s growing territorial and hegemonic ambitions have floated schemes

“Taipei must look to the Indo-Pacific and its fellow democracies in the region if it is going to carve itself out some strategic operating space.” to rival those controlled by Beijing. The Tokyo-led Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, for example, was initiated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and embraced by President Trump. It would knit together the Indian and Pacific oceans, linking India and Japan through the Africa-Asia Growth Corridor (AAGC) running from Africa to Japan, and connecting the United States with the IndoPacific Economic Corridor running from South Asia to Southeast Asia. The government in Taipei would do well to boost ROC participation in these non-PRC schemes. President Tsai hinted as much in her remarks on 8 August at the 2017 Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue, commenting on “the growing linkages between Japan and South Asia, as well as Southeast Asia, which have seen tremendous progress over the past few years,” adding that, “our New Southbound Policy acknowledges that Taiwan cannot idly sit on the sidelines as this process takes place.” Taipei must look to the Indo-Pacific and its fellow democracies in the region if it is going to carve itself out some strategic operating space. The opportunities described above, if properly leveraged, would furnish Taiwan with more international space in which to operate, and increase the informal, implicit, de

New Southbound Policy  b  31

facto recognition of Taiwan, even if formal, explicit, de jure recognition remains a bridge too far. So far, the NSP has been a relative success. Cultural and educational links have been the most straightforward avenues of bridgebuilding. Economic initiatives have also been quite successful with Southeast Asia— especially Malaysia—with the Philippines offering the most quasi-official recognition to Taiwan, and Singapore maintaining its established security links with Taiwan despite Chinese pressure. However, trade with Australia showed little growth in 2017. The fate of Taiwan’s hopes for more FTAs in Southeast Asia and with Australia will be determined by Taipei’s ability to circumvent Beijing’s bilateral blockages by gaining entry into the exhumed and revivified TPP. On 13 December, 2017, speaking at the TSD, Taiwan’s vice president was explicit about the geoeconomic and geopolitical overlap of the TPP: “Multilateral trade agreements support geopolitical alliances, and a rules-based trading framework can help support a rules-based security framework. So

we’re very excited to see that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the TPP has some momentum, and we hope to be part of it soon,” Chen said. Taipei must continue to push for TPP entry by 2020 in any second wave of membership. Taiwan’s involvement in India and Japan’s AAGC initiative would also compensate for being locked out of China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative. Taipei’s outreach to Delhi under the NSP is a particularly important policy development. At the Raisina Dialogue on 19 January, 2018, Taiwan’s delegate Tan Sun-seng argued that, being fellow democracies, “India’s ‘Act East’ policy and Taiwan’s Southbound policy can complement each other to contribute to stability in the Indo-Pacific region.” For Taiwan, India offers a significant alternative to the Chinese market, which is fraught with political land mines. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi has demonstrated the courage to stand up to Chinese pressure. It is to be hoped that the region’s other democracies will follow Modi’s example. n

photo: Jakob Skovo A US Air Force B-1B Bomber takes off from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam during a training exercise with Japan Air Self-Defense Forces.

Visit our website:

Strategic Vision, Issue 36  
Strategic Vision, Issue 36  

Strategic Vision is a journal jointly published by the Taiwan Center for Security Studies and the ROC National Defense University that provi...