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STRATEGIC VISION Volume 7, Issue 39


August, 2018

for Taiwan Security w

Pivoting East Russia Engages East Asia David Scott

India and Southeast Asia Manoj Kumar Panigrahi

Pyongyang’s Nuclear Diplomacy Chien-chung Huang & Guang-chang Bian

Unmanned Systems for Taiwan’s Navy Tobias Burgers

Cyber Security Cooperation John Phillips

ISSN 2227-3646


Volume 7, Issue 39

for Taiwan Security w

August, 2018

Contents North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy....................................................4

Chien-chung Huang & Guang-chang Bian

Indian PM visits Southeast Asia.................................................... 9

Manoj Kumar Panigrahi

Moscow strengthens position in East Asia................................... 14

David Scott

Unmmaned systems for Taiwan’s defense.................................... 20

Tobias Burgers

Assertive US posture on cyber defense good for Taiwan............. 25

John Phillips

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 xiongmu@gmail.com 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 the monument to Peter the Great, located at the western confluence of the Moskva River and the Vodootvodny Canal in central Moscow, is courtesy of Dean Karalekas.

Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Aaron Jensen

From The Editor


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.

he editors and staff of Strategic Vision would like to wish our readers well this fall season. The Asia-Pacific 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 issue of Strategic Vision. We open this issue with Chien-chung Huang and Dr. Guangchang Bian who examine North Korea’s strategy to expand its diplomatic space by leveraging it much-maligned nuclear program. Manoj Kumar Panigrahi, a PhD candidate at National Chengchi University, examines India’s engagement with Southeast Asia, specifically though the prism of Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to three countries in the region. Next, Dr. David Scott, a frequent lecturer at the NATO Defense College in Rome, looks at Russia’s recent moves designed to boost Moscow’s engagement in East Asia. This is followed by an article by frequent contributor Tobias Burgers, who argues that unmanned vehicles are best suited for Taiwan’s defensive needs in lieu of the more expensive submarine program. Finally, John Phillips, a visiting scholar at the Institute of International Relations, looks at the prospects for greater cybersecurity cooperation between Taiwan and the United States. 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.

Photographs used in this publication are used courtesy of the photographers, or through a creative commons license. All are attributed appropriately.

Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision

Associate Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Tiehlin Yen Richard Hu Guang-chang Bian Chung-kun Ma Lipin Tien Ming Lee Chung-young Chang STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 7, Number 39, August, 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.

Any inquiries please contact the Executive Editor directly via email at: dkarale.kas@gmail.com. Or by telephone at: +886 (02) 8237-7228 Online issues and archives can be viewed at our website: www.csstw.org © Copyright 2018 by the Center for Security Studies. Articles in this periodical do not necessarily represent the views of either the CSS, NDU, or the editors.

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Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 39 (August, 2018)

Nuclear Diplomacy North Korean nuclear program essential to warming ties on Korean Peninsula Chien-Chung Huang & Guang-Chang Bian


n 12 July, 2018, US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, often called North Korea) Kim Jong Un held a historic summit at the Capella Resort on Singapore’s Sentosa Island, where the two leaders signed a joint statement. This historic meeting between the United States and North Korea was a reflection of their respective national interests. After three rounds of talks, four statements were made by the United States and North Korea. First, that the United States and the DPRK committed to establish new US-DPRK relations in ac-

cordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity. Second, that the United States and the DPRK would make joint efforts to build a lasting and stable peace on the Korean Peninsula. Third, the two parties reaffirmed the Panmunjom Declaration of 27 April, 2018, in which the DPRK expressed its commitment to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Finally, the United States and the DPRK committed to recovering the remains of American soldiers declared prisoners of war and missing in action dating back to the Korean War (1950-1953), including the

photo: Stefan Krawsoski Armored vehicles roll through the streets of Pyongyang during the annual Victory Day Parade.

Chien-chung Huang is a retired ROC military officer.

Guang-chang Bian is a professor at the ROC National Defense University. He can be reached for comment at drbian1977@gmail.com

Nuclear Diplomacy  b  5

photo: Shealah Craighead US President Donald J. Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In arrive at the Blue House accompanied by their wives on November 17, 2017.

immediate repatriation of those already identified. This article aims to examine, based on the background and the conclusions of the summit, the strategic process and outstanding measures taken by North Korea to hold a summit with the United States. Kim Jong Un, the third-generation leader of North Korea, took power in 2012, after his father Kim Jong Il died in 2011. He is also the highest-ranking leader of the party, the government, and the military. He has dealt harshly with people who disagree with him or threaten his position. Several military generals have been executed to ensure his control of the army, foe example.

Inflammatory language

and actions, some people still admire and respect this 30-something year-old leader who has used efficient methods to solidify his power over the military and the regime in such a short time. After stabilizing the regime, Kim Jong Un began to devote the country’s resources to the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. This is an inhumane policy. North Korea blocks its citizens’ access to almost all foreign news, and very little information passes the other way as well, resulting in the world’s knowledge of this country being fragmentary. The general perception is that the people in North Korea suffer for daily needs, and the economy is in severe trouble. Most of the materials, resources, and energy keeping the economy afloat

In diplomatic terms, Kim’s habitual use of exaggerated words has been criticized by many international relations scholars, security experts, and diplomats. However, the use of inflammatory language has successfully earned Kim a place in the spotlight of international media attention. Despite his extreme words

are provided by China. Despite the people’s livelihoods being hampered by such a difficult environment, the regime has been actively devoting resources toward developing nuclear weapons since the 1960s. It believes that possessing nuclear weapons can threaten South Korea and prevent the United States from intervening in the his-


torical imperative of unification. Since 2006, North Korea has conducted six nuclear weapons tests, four of which were executed during Kim Jong Un’s reign. Both the testing frequency and the scale of the nuclear weapons have gradually increased since Kim took office: The fourth nuclear test was conducted on 6 January, 2016 and North Korea declared that this was the first hydrogen bomb test. Despite the fact that the United Nations Security Council almost immediately passed economic sanctions in March 2016, Pyongyang conducted another nuclear test on September 9 the same year, declaring this to have been its largest nuclear test to date. In order to deter North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and nuclear tests, the United States, in April 2017, sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the vicinity of the Korean peninsula. In order to counter the United States, North Korea test-fired a missile with a range of more than 900

kilometers—a range that could hit parts of Hawaii and the continental United States. The timing for the test was carefully chosen: the Fourth of July, America’s National Day. This sent a strong signal to show that North Korea has the ability to hit US soil.

“Though it faces punitive sanctions from various countries, developing nuclear weapons is an optimal and effective strategy to prevent Pyongyang from being threatened militarily.” In addition, North Korea conducted a sixth nuclear test of hydrogen bomb-type device on 3 September, 2017. At this time, the international community no longer had to speculate about North Korea’s capability to manufacture nuclear weapons. Surprisingly, after demonstrating its capabilities to the world, North Korea began to demonstrate good will toward South

photo: Dominique Pineiro Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, receives a briefing from a South Korean soldier near the DMZ.

Nuclear Diplomacy  b  7

Korea and the United States, and successively launched a series of peaceful dialogues. Developing nuclear weapons is central to North Korea’s strategy. Though it faces punitive sanctions from various countries, developing nuclear weapons is an optimal and effective strategy to prevent Pyongyang from being threatened militarily. North Korea’s strategy can be further characterized by three approaches. First, North Korea has successfully developed a viable threat photo: Dan Scavino against its enemy. According President Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong-un, June 12th 2018. to management theory, the maximum capacity of a chain is determined by the weakest Second, North Korea followed up its ability to point—or, as the old saying goes, a chain is only as threaten its enemies with a hedging approach. After strong as its weakest link. North Korea’s livelihood showing the world that it possessed nuclear weapis withdrawn and the overall military power is much ons (as well as the capability to produce long-range weaker than the United States and South Korea, but missiles), North Korea then announced in 2018 that North Korea knows that all the developed countries it intended to cease testing nuclear bombs and interare afraid of nuclear war. continental missiles. In March of 2018, Kim Jong Un met three times with The weakest link his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, and on 27 April, he met with South Korean President Moon Jae In at In particular, economic and trade exchanges and Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone. In addition technological cooperation between countries are vito reporting to his ally in China, these meetings were tal, and therefore states are committed to avoiding also designed to extend an olive branch to Seoul in the outbreak of large-scale wars. Therefore, although the hopes of reducing the risk of military confronthe link between the United States, Japan, and South tation between the two Koreas. In such a situation, Korea is powerful, their desire to avoid large-scale the US proposal to impose punishing sanctions on war is still—in Pyongyang’s estimation—the weakNorth Korea has been slightly reduced in Northeast est link. Conflicts with countries that possess nuclear Asia, and has opened the door for President Trump’s weapons mean large-scale casualties and destruction. meeting with Kim Jong Un. Thus, the development of nuclear weapons by North Third, North Korea employs a fuzzy strategy by Korea has the effect of threatening and deterring making vague promises, which have enabled it to these countries. achieve tangible benefits. Although the four points


photo: Timothy Dischinat US Air Force Senior Airman Javon Bryant, a weapons load crew member, tightens a bolt on an NF-16 Fighting Falcon at Osan Air Base.

of consensus of the US and North Korea summits are basically empty political declarations, the meeting with Trump was a diplomatic victory for Kim Jung Un. After successfully implementing these nuclear tests, nuclear weapons have been successfully developed, analysts believe. Kim suddenly acts as the savior of the world by destroying all nuclear and missiles facilities. Even if all hardware facilities are destroyed, the international community will still fear North Korea, because it has already manufactured and concealed enough small nuclear bombs to prepare for future combat needs. This is a bright, dark surface that creates vague fears. Therefore, North Korea has a lot of bargaining power for future negotiations.

play an important role as an emissary for peace in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and the South China Sea. Singapore and Taiwan also have strong rivals and lack natural resources. Although their security environments are different, Singapore’s strategic flexibility in internal affairs, economics, national security, and diplomacy is worth study by leaders and policymakers in Taiwan. North Korea is surrounded by China and the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and no matter whether it is economically or militarily inferior to these countries, the Kim regime has mastered the ability to foment fear in advanced countries which seek to avoid large wars. Although North Korea is living

In addition to the United States and North Korea, Singapore, the host country to the summit, also demonstrated its national strength. Singapore is a small country that was able to gain the trust of hostile nations and hold a high-profile summit on its soil. The message is that, in addition to its central role in economic and international trade, Singapore can also

under an absolute disadvantage, striving to develop nuclear weapons was the only way to command the attention of larger powers. In addition to helping the regime avoid invasion, these weapons have now been leveraged as a means of demonstrating good will and contributing to the well-being of the North Korean people. n

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Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 39 (August, 2018)

India Looks East Modi’s visit to Southeast Asia reflects India’s growing interest in the region Manoj Kumar Panigrahi

photo: Government of India Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi inspects an honor guard during a ceremonial reception in Putrajaya, Malaysia.


ay 2018 ushered in a new chapter in India’s Act East policy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a tour through Southeast Asia with stops in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. This not only added up to another push for Indian engagement in Southeast Asia, but it also showed a renewed interest by the three countries toward the growing Indian market. Modi’s visit comes at a time of growing uncertainty in the region about the militarization of the South China Sea (SCS). A Sanskrit mantra, Vasudhaiva

Asia since ancient times. In more recent history, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s Non-Aligned Movement counted Indonesia’s former President Sukarno as an important supporter. Despite having such strong bonds, India and Southeast Asia have not been able to live up to expectations. The 1962 border war with China and nuclear tests by India reduced India’s standing among Southeast Asian nations: India began to be seen as a country with expansionist ambitions. Right after coming to power, Modi rebranded the

Kutumbakam, which means, “the world is one family,” has been used by Modi to deliver his message to the region. Being home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, India has maintained links to Southeast

previous Look East policy, initiated by PM Narasimha Rao in 1991, into the Act East policy, demonstrating a fresh approach from the Indian side toward Southeast Asia. India has since been trying to play an active part

Manoj Kumar Panigrahi is a PhD candidate in the International Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies at National Chengchi University in Taipei. He can be reached at into---mankupani@gmail.com


Sabang port, at the northern tip of Sumatra. Sabang sits at the entrance to the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest sea routes of trade. This was not only a major milestone for both sides, but it also signaled a growing acceptance of India’s role and presence in Southeast Asia. Predictably, China responded to India’s presence with a warning. The Global Times, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, remarked in an article that, “India’s investment in Southeast Asian ports is photo: Michael Macleod welcome, but if new infrastrucUS and Indian soldiers stand during ceremonies for Indo-US joint training Exercise Yudh Abhyas. ture facilities financed by India in Southeast Asia, both bilaterally and multilaterally in those ports are designed for military use, China through regional organizations. This article will ascan take various counter-measures. sess Modi’s recent three-nation visit and analyze the “At the least, Beijing can adopt the same measures importance of the visits, as well as the benefits and in the Indian Ocean,” the article warned. This rechallenges for the countries involved. sponse should not be too surprising, as Beijing has been building strategic ports in the Indian Ocean for Paying homage several years. Beijing’s response is also motivated by the “Malacca Dilemma,” whereby policy leaders are On the first leg of his tour, Modi landed in Indonesia concerned about China’s overreliance on the strateon his first official visit there. He began by paying gic trade route and any possible disruption thereof. homage to the martyrs of Indonesia’s freedom moveWidodo and Modi also agreed to upgrade the relament at Kalibata Heroes cemetery, which showed the tionship between the two countries into a strategic importance of the shared colonial history of India partnership. Both sides agreed to include cooperaand Indonesia. tion in science and technology, capacity building of In a visit marked by many firsts, Modi then met public officials, and cooperation in railways and air with President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. It should be transport, among others. Both countries also emphanoted that in 2019, both Modi and Widodo will be sized the importance of a rules-based approach to facing re-election. Bold decisions on the part of these maintaining peace in the Indo-Pacific region. India leaders might help to demonstrate power and resolve has historically maintained its position and core polto their respective constituents. icy of seeking to maintain peace around the world. One of the most important exchanges of the visIn Malaysia, Modi met his counterpart, the newly it was Indonesia’s offer of joint development of the elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, and

India Looks East  b  11

congratulated him on his win in the general elections. The two leaders maintained that both sides are committed to further strengthening the bilateral relationship. Modi also met Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her husband, Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, at the Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. This may signal future collaboration between Indian and Malaysian companies in airport infrastructure. India remains Malaysia’s largest trading partner in South Asia, with total trade amounting to US$14.7 billion in 2017. In addition to trade, India and Malaysia are developing ties in the tourism and defense sectors. There are challenges and disagreements that remain between the two nations, however. Zakir Naik a, controversial Islamic preacher from India, recently received a permanent residence permit in Malaysia. New Delhi had asked Kuala Lumpur to extradite Naik for inciting youths in India to support terrorism. However, Malaysia politely denied India’s request. Mahathir’s refusal to extradite Naik created an uneasiness in Malaysia’s coalition government. Three ethnic Indian ministers in Malaysia’s government,

including the Minister of Human Resources M. Kula Segaran, as well as leaders of the Democratic Action Party, a party in the current coalition, raised objections to Mahathir’s refusal to extradite Naik. Given that three ethnic Indian ministers opposed Mahathir’s decision, there is a possibility that this could cause some suspicion about possible Indian influence in Malaysian politics, as politics in Malaysia is often ethnically charged.

“India ranks 100 out of 190 for ease of doing business, which hampers greater involvement in trade.” On the last leg of his tour in Singapore, Modi met Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, where they discussed various issues. Modi unveiled a plaque where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were taken, and he visited the neighborhood known as Little India, where a large number of ethnic Indians live. The two countries signed a digital-payment services agreement, which will make it easier for digital transactions to be conducted between the two countries. Modi also visited the Changi

photo: Joshua Turner An Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighter lands at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska on April 16, 2016, in preparation for Red Flag-Alaska 16-1.


Naval Base to meet the sailors aboard the Indian Navy ship INS Satpura, which was on a routine port call in Singapore. Modi also attended the 17th Shangri-La Dialogue and delivered a keynote address, making him the first Indian prime minister to have done so. During his address, he opined that an “Asia of rivalry” would hold the region back, whereas an Asia defined by cooperation would better shape the current century. Singapore has been strategically very important for India, welcoming India’s involvement in the region in the past. Singaporean defense forces conduct regular training in India. Many cities look toward Singapore to help develop the Smart City project. Both sides have repeatedly showed positive signs to deepen ties with each other.

Remaining challenges Although there have been many positive developments to increase ties, a number of challenges remain. First, doing business in India is still difficult.

According to the World Bank, India ranks 100 out of 190 for ease of doing business, which hampers greater involvement in trade and other economic activities with its neighbors and others. India is still the ninth largest trading partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Second, is the red tape. One example of this problem with bureaucracy is the long-proposed trilateral highway between India, Myanmar, and Thailand, which later saw proposals to extend it to other Southeast Asian countries. This project is still under construction and its completion date, now set at 2021, has been pushed back repeatedly. Third, there is the risk of India getting involved in regional disputes. India has begun to engage in military and security cooperation with some Southeast Asian nations. Countries such as Vietnam have shown an interest in acquiring Indian military hardware and India has been regularly training Vietnamese sailors and aviators in its military facilities. The Indian navy has also made several appearances in the region, and this has not gone unnoticed

photo: Christopher Farrington The Indian navy frigate Satpura (F-48) transits the Indian Ocean during Exercise Malabar 2012.

India Looks East  b  13

photo: Matthew Freeman An F-35B lands on the USS Essex ampibious assault ship during operations in the Indian Ocean.

by China, which has been working hard to secure de facto control over the South China Sea. In July 2011, an Indian Navy vessel was challenged by a caller identifying themselves as the “Chinese Navy,” who informed the vessel that it was “entering Chinese waters.” In fact, the incident occurred in international waters, a mere 45 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam.

More recently, Indian warships en route to Guam to participate in the 2018 Malabar military exercise were tailed by Chinese naval ships until they crossed from the Philippine Sea into the Pacific Ocean. In response, the Indian government made repeated statements

work and sowed mistrust among nations. The different claims and perceptions toward the South China Sea among the claimant nations have created a lack of coordination and mistrust. The recent Rohingya refugee problem has produced a significant burden for Thailand, which has been hosting refugees from Myanmar since 1988. There are several ways in which India can further strengthen its Act East policy. First, it could fast-track economic policy reforms to strengthen economic ties with ASEAN. Second, it needs to remove the red tape from its bureaucracy, with internal reforms needed to follow up. Third, it must reduce delays in development projects: Indian leaders have mentioned that the North East Indian states are active stakeholders in India’s Act East Policy. The Northeast region needs

that such events took place in international waters, where China has no jurisdiction. Due to apparent differences in perceptions over what counts as acceptable maritime operations, the risk of miscalculation between Chinese and Indian forces has increased. Fourth, the traditional and non-traditional security issues in the region have hampered development

to be developed in a way that integrates the region with India’s Act East Policy. Fourth, there should be greater integration of intelligence sharing among the security agencies of the countries in the region. This will help reduce transnational crime and terrorism, and help foster coordination during humanitarian disasters. n

Risk of miscalculation

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photo: Dean Karalekas The Kremlin has been seeking a more active footprint in East Asia, and three recent endeavors have contributed to realizing that goal.

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 39 (August, 2018)

Putin’s Pivot East Three moves mark Moscow’s attempt to strengthen position in East Asia David Scott


hree events signaled Russian activism in the East (Vostok) during the autumn of 2018. These were the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), the Vostok-2018 military exercises, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation for Kim Jong Un to visit Russia. They represented

and interests in play. In mid-September, Russia hosted 6,000 attendees from more than 60 countries at the EEF, including, for the first time, Chinese President Xi Jinping. The largest foreign delegations came from China, Japan, South Korea, and Mongolia. The venue was

geo-economic and geopolitical assertiveness on the part of Moscow, a deliberate strategy of stepping on to the center stage in the region alongside its strategic partner, China, but with its Russia’s own agenda

Vladivostok, headquarters of the Russian Pacific Fleet and administrative center of Primorsky Krai, a region in the Far Eastern Federal District. Formed in 2014, the EEF has since become an im-

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 davidscott366@outlook.com

Putin’s Pivot East  b  15

portant part of Russia’s regional diplomacy. Putin’s official welcome stressed that the theme of this year’s event, The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities, reflected Russians’ aspirations “to see Russia more closely integrated into the economic network of the huge Asia-Pacific region.” The event had a range of technical and business themes, but Russia’s aspiration to position itself in the region in a more active and maritime way by leveraging its huge energy reserves was apparent in the various sessions under the heading of Business Programme Architecture. These included the examination of such issues as seeking a modern integration framework for the Asia-Pacific region, transport corridors in the Russian east, and how the new Asian geopolitics and political economy present opportunities for Russia, among a host of others. These themes had a geopolitical rationale which emphasized the role of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, Russia itself, and the Russian Far East—Russia’s window on the Asia Pacific. Politically, the significance of the EEF also lay in

the high-level officials taking part. In addition to China’s Xi, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Prime Minister Lee Nak Yeon of South Korea, and President Khaltmaagiin Battulga of Mongolia were in attendance. These four leaders joined Putin on stage for the plenary session.

Regional credentials The sight of the five leaders standing side by side was a striking visual image. Xi’s attendance represented a marked upgrade from the previous relatively junior officials that represented China in years past. Ministers from North Korea (Kim Yong Jae), Vietnam (Nguyen Chi Dung) and India (Suresh Prabhu) also attended the forum. The United States was absent, partly on geographic grounds but also partly on political grounds—its absence enabled Russia to show its regional credentials as an Asian power. At a time when Putin was again the recipient of strong criticism by the United Nations and Western nations over suspected Russian involvement in the

photo: Kremlin.ru Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jai In at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 6.


Novichok poison attacks in the United Kingdom, the wide-ranging regional attendance at the EEF was a potent demonstration of Putin’s diplomatic respectability in Asia. Putin’s speech at the plenary session was forceful. With regard to Russia’s strategic goals and long-term policy, he told the audience that, “It is for the development of the Far Eastern economy that we organized this forum. Developing the Far East is an absolute priority for us in the Asia-Pacific Region, for achieving the strategic goals that we set, for a breakthrough.” The importance of the Russia-China partnership was also reiterated by Putin, as well as by Xi. Putin emphasized that, “the Far East should fully attain its logistic potential” if Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway and the Northern Sea Route around Russia were used, which “would dramatically increase the transport connectivity of the Asia-Pacific region and Europe.” In effect, this was a subtle attempt to show that China’s Belt and Road Initiative was not the only suitable vehicle for Asia-Pacific countries. With his eye on the Korean peninsula, Putin also chose to

emphasize trilateral infrastructure projects between Russia, North Korea, and South Korea. In a dramatic on-stage diplomatic twist (yet one that was obviously rehearsed), Putin turned to Abe and commented, “a simple thought dawned on me right here and now: We have been in talks for 70 years. Shinzo suggested changing approaches, therefore, it has dawned on me that we should sign a peace treaty, not now, but before the year is out, and without any preconditions.”

“Xi and Putin are aware that neither Russia nor China will be able to stand up to the Americans alone.” On the surface this appeared to have been a dramatic attempt to sidestep the previous blockage of the Kuril Islands dispute standing in the way of a formal signing of a Peace Treaty between the two countries. Though this suggestion garnered applause from the audience, Abe offered only a smile in response. It was revealing that Sergey Luzyanin’s piece in the

photo: Dean Karalekas Trains that ply the Trans-Siberian Railway prepare to leave Yekaterinburg for parts farther East.

Putin’s Pivot East  b  17

photo: Kremlin.ru Putin observes the Vostok-2018 military manoeuvres from the command post while touring the Tsugol training range in the Trans-Baikal Territory.

EEF 2018 Official Magazine titled “Russia and China need each other to create a new world” provided a Russian perspective on the Russia-China relationship. He wrote that their two countries have a common rival in the United States. This is not spoken of out loud, Luzyanin averred, but Xi and Putin are aware that neither Russia nor China will be able to stand up to the Americans alone. Luzyanin added that Russia is an important supplier for China, especially in energy. In turn, China provides Russia with advanced, high-quality technologies and serves as a potential investor. Despite these positive signs, the relationship remains hampered by the fact that negotiations with China are always extremely difficult, according to Luzyanin, and that Russia has set a high bar in the military sphere that China has not yet reached. When Russia opened the EEF it was from a position of economic weakness vis-à-vis China; desperately trying to position the Russian Far East within the booming Asia-Pacific economic stimulus and cross-continental connectivity projects. However, the first day of the forum coincided with the beginning of the Vostok-2018 exercises, where the Russian armed forces illustrated Moscow’s position of military

strength in its relationship with China, and indeed with the region. As soon as the EEF drew to a close, Putin flew immediately from Vladivostok to view the massed forces in action. Previous Vostok exercises were held in 2010 and 2014. The land exercises took place around Tsugol, close to Russia’s frontier with Mongolia and Manchuria, and involved Russia’s Central Army and Eastern Army. Further ground maneuvers took place from Vladivostok up to the border with Manchuria. Naval exercises took place in the north-west Pacific, in waters off the Kamchatka Peninsula, and involved units from Russia’s Northern Fleet and Pacific Fleet.

Increasing participation Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that 300,000 troops, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 aircraft and 80 warships would be taking part in the Vostok-2018 exercises. Vostok-2018 marked a ramping up of Russian military power on show and represented the largest Russian exercise held since 1981, involving around one-third of its military strength. Previously, Vostok-2014 involved around 100,000 troops, 120 aircraft and 70 warships; while


photo: Seth Rosenberg An F-35 conducts in-flight refueling with a KC-130 during Exercise Valiant Shield.

Vostok-2010 saw the participation of just 20,000 troops, 70 warplanes and 30 warships. China’s participation in Vostok-2018 consisted of around 3,200 elite forces from the Northern Theatre Command, as well as 30 aircraft and 900 pieces of military hardware. This included the Type 99, a thirdgeneration main battle tank—China’s most advanced tank, which has rarely been deployed abroad. Speaking at the Tsugol site, Putin argued that, “Russia is a peaceful state, we do not have and cannot have any aggressive plans,” and he congratulated the forces on a job well done, saying, “you demonstrated the military prowess, showed your capability to successfully counter potential military threats.” The key question of course was where, for Putin, was the perceived threat coming from? Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov painted a picture of a hostile international environment, arguing that, “the country’s ability to defend

that, “for Russia, it is important to show that China is an economic component of the new world, whereas Russia is the military one. Mongolia’s participation in the drills is a real breakthrough that opens the doors to inner and eastern Asia for Russia.” As to the nature of the exercises, Lulko pulled no punches, “these are not just common maneuvers, but large-scale exercises with offensive goals.” The purpose of the exercise was twofold: In part, it was explicitly to test assets and command-andcontrol capabilities; but also it was to send messages. The first and most basic message was to Russia and to the world: Russia continues to be an effective, strong Great Power, a military power of the first order. Moreover, as Russian naval units converged from the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Arctic Ocean into the Bering Sea—waters which face the US state of Alaska—the naval exercises sent a message

itself in the current international situation, which is often aggressive and unfriendly towards our country, means it is justified” in holding Vostok-2018. A 31 August Pravda article by Lyuba Lulko titled “Russia to share its Syrian experience with China during Vostok 2018 war games” offered a hint as to the geopolitical importance of the exercises. Lulko wrote

to the United States. Messages were also being sent to China. Speculation has arisen that China was invited precisely because the location of the land maneuvers looks, at first glance, China-related. Indeed, there has been some speculation that the Vostok exercises had China in mind as the envisaged potential enemy in the East.

Putin’s Pivot East  b  19

Russia’s invitation for China to attend the Vostok-2018 exercise may well have been that it would have looked too obvious not to have invited Beijing, and would have damaged their political strategic partnership which seeks to resist US-led pressure. The large scale of the Vostok-2018 land exercise can be seen as a way for Moscow to maintain Russian credibility in the face of a rising China, and to avoid asymmetric power disadvantages in their relationship. Moscow may also be using the Vostok-2018 exercises to showcase its continuing strength in weapons technology, and thereby head-off cuts in Chinese purchases of Russian defense equipment. Chairwoman of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko personally delivered a letter from Putin to Kim Jong Un during her 7-10 September official visit to North Korea. The letter included an invitation for Kim to visit Russia. This would complement the summit between Putin and South Korea’s president, held in June 2018. Certainly, Putin has the opportunity to present Russia as perhaps a more equal partner in economic ventures with South Korea and North Korea, which in different ways may have mixed feel-

ings about becoming economically dependent on a strong China. Putin’s push for a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un is an explicit message to the United States that Russia should not be ignored in the affairs on the Korean peninsula. Just as importantly, it is an implicit message to China that Russia shares a land frontier with North Korea, and should not be ignored in Beijing’s overt push for a privileged relationship with Pyongyang. It was announced that Kim was ready to make the visit to Russia, to be arranged before the end of the year. Observers will wait with interest to see the results of this new element in regional diplomacy. In the meantime, Moscow hosted bilateral talks on 9-10 October between Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and North Korea’s Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui. The two were then joined by China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kong Xuanyou for further Russia-led trilateral discussion on the Korean peninsula. The dispatch of a Russian Foreign Ministry team to North Korea on 23 October maintained this newly established trend of a more active Russian diplomatic involvement in Korean affairs. n

photo: Kremlin.ru Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian military forces participate in Exercise Vostok-2018.

20  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 39 (August, 2018)

Automated Alternative Unmanned subs offer alternative to costly submarine acquisition program Tobias Burgers

photo: Timothy Walter


A US Navy X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator aircraft on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77).

aiwan has embarked on an ambitious program to develop indigenous submarines. The national government seeks to develop a new generation of submarines to replace the Chien Lung class, which have been in service more than three decades. As they near the end of their operational lifespan, which has been extended already, the government understands the urgency for a new fleet of submarines. Foreign sales of submarines, from Germany, Japan, or Israel, for example, is not a feasible option, and

The Taiwan-based China Shipbuilding Corporation—the nation’s main naval vessel builder—has vied to win the government contract, and two years ago initiated a submarine development center in Kaohsiung. The development of eight submarines, with a possible increase to 12, has been foreseen within the space of two decades. The first system is expected to enter service in 2026. The US Congress voted for the defense act in 2018, which included offering Taiwan technical support for its submarine program. With US assistance, Taipei’s

Taiwan’s main armament and defense supplier the United States is not in the business of selling diesel submarines. Thus, Taiwan has opted to indigenously develop a new generation of submarines.

aim to develop a new generation of submarines appears closer than ever. The utility of submarines as asymmetrical tools has been widely documented. This is especially rel-

Tobias Burgers is a visiting scholar at the Institute of International Relations in Taipei. He can be reached for comment at burgers@zedat.fu-berlin.de

Automated Alternative  b  21

photo: ROC MND The ROC Navy’s 73 year-old SS-791 Hai Shih, or Sea Lion, is already the oldest submarine still in naval service anywhere in the world.

evant to Taiwan, as China’s anti-submarine capabilities (or rather, its lack thereof) are well-documented. Acquiring submarines will not suddenly turn the tide of the strategic balance, but it would significantly enhance Taiwan’s deterrence ability.

Aging fleet

would extend beyond the initial timeframe for development and exceed its budget. The history of weapons development is full of ambitious cases of defense systems that nearly all ended in costly overruns. Indeed, it is rare for a weapons development program to meet its initial time and cost estimates. With its limited defense budget and the de-

“Taiwan’s desire for submarine development is understandable, but it remains very much in flux.”

Yet developing these submarines is a daunting task. Taiwan has no native submarine development experience: its submarines are either Dutch, and nearing 30 years of service, or they are American models that date back to World War II. Furthermore, the United States has had no recent experience in developing diesel submarines—the kind of submarines Taiwan seeks to develop and build—for over 3 decades. As such, it seems that Taiwan’s defense industry has a

teriorating strategic balance vis-à-vis China, Taiwan does not possess the luxury that nations such as the United States and China have; being able to delay or even endure failed projects. Taiwan simply cannot. Time is also not on Taiwan’s side. With the first sub-

steep learning curve ahead. This was amply demonstrated when a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments announcement called for foreign support. It is therefore likely that the timeframe and the estimated cost could increase dramatically by the time Taiwan receives its first new submarine. Rather, it seems likely that the project

marine not scheduled to become operational until 2026, in theory at least, it could be well over a decade before a single submarine can be deployed. Fielding the desired eight to 12 submarines could easily take another decade on top of that. With China’s military might growing by the year, Taiwan needs military resources now that can not only asymmetrically


photo: Joshua Mortensen The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland approaches the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers during a replenishment at sea.

counter China’s military threats, but are also within its technical means and budget, and which can be completed in a reasonable amount of time.

Limited feasibility Taiwan’s desire for submarine development is understandable, but it remains very much in flux. Furthermore, the feasibility of operating submarines in the shallow waters of the Taiwan Strait is limited. Submarines thrive in deeper waters, enabling them to hide from enemy detection. The shallow waters of the Taiwan Strait do not provide such an amenable operating environment. As such, they could be easily detected by the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s anti-submarine forces, rendering them effectively unable to threaten Chinese surface ships. Therefore, Taiwan’s military planners should consider alternatives to manned submarines. Specifically, they should consider the development of unmanned submarines, or as they are better known, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). The following points highlight the value and efficacy of UUVs for Taiwan’s defense.

First, when it comes to the development of unmanned systems Taiwan’s defense establishment and industry actually have significant experience in this area. Taiwan’s defense industry has developed a range of unmanned aerial vehicles. Furthermore, its software and hardware industry is among the world’s best, and it has the experience and skill to develop new software and hardware systems that would be essential for the development of UUVs.

“Unmanned systems could be significantly smaller in size, and would not require the training and sustainment of a large crew.” Moreover, a possible joint venture between the government, defense industry, and the commercial software and hardware industry would produce the necessary skills, expertise, and understanding to embark on a UUV development project. Having gained experience in the development of unmanned systems, the lessons learned from these projects could be applied to other projects. Second, and related to the prior argument: the US

Automated Alternative  b  23

defense industry has significant experience in the research and development of unmanned technologies. Although much effort has been focused on the aerial element, in recent years the US Navy, in collaboration with the defense industry, has embarked on a number of UUV projects. It can be expected that neither the US defense establishment nor its industry will share its state-of-the-art technologies with Taiwan, but it will have considerably more experience and knowledge to share in this sector than in the diesel submarine sector in which it has nearzero experience. Given that the US seems inclined to support Taiwan’s defense industry under the current government, it is likely that the Washington would assist Taipei in an effort to develop UUVs.

Significant advantages From an economic perspective, the development of unmanned submarines would make more sense than producing manned submarines. Unmanned systems could be significantly smaller in size, and

would not require the training and sustainment of a large crew. While money matters are important, it is in the tactical and strategic domains where the primary advantages of the UUV vis-à-vis conventional subs can be found. First, the absence of manned operators allows for a number of offensive benefits. UUVs could remain on the surface: hidden, to be activated only in times of crisis. This would increase their stealth and would make it significantly more difficult for China to track all UUVs that could pose a threat. Once activated, UUVs can act more aggressively. With no concern over the loss of lives, UUVs can engage in more daring ‘suicide’ missions. In particular, if they could engage in so-called swarming tactics. The use of several, possibly hundreds of smaller UUVs—in essence just automated and autonomous torpedoes—could easily overwhelm Chinese naval defenses. As noted before, China’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities are limited, and that is an assessment made for a scenario in which there are a limited number of manned, large submarines. Imagine

photo: Kahdija Slaughter A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 Hornet pilot salutes as he taxis to the runway at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.


photo: ROC Presidential Office ROC Air Force Mirage 2000-5 fighters fly in formation over the Presidential Office during Double Ten Day celebrations in Taipei.

a much larger number of smaller UUVs: Such an autonomous and automated force would have significantly more capability to strike at an invasion fleet. The absence of manned operators on UUVs touches upon another problem along the manned submarine road: Personnel. Due their limited number, and the need for a large crew compliment, the loss of a submarine would be catastrophic for the military and would have a large impact on public opinion.

Public opinion and the political value of manned submarines could force the armed forces to deploy submarines in a moderate, defensive posture, due to the possibility of losing submarines and men. Such a scenario would turn the hunters—Taiwan submarines—into the hunted, effectively leveling any of-

bers are flat; its effort to create an All-Volunteer-Force has proved a failed experiment; and there is almost no appetite among this generation of Taiwan’s young people to join the military. For these reasons, it remains very much an open question whether the Navy can recruit, train, and deploy sufficient numbers of personnel to man eight submarines. Clearly, UUVs need staff too, but advances in artificial intelligence could allow for a lighter manned footprint. Furthermore, any force operating UUVs remotely, very much in the manner of a video game, would be most likely shore-based, and not locked away, hundreds of meters below the Taiwan Strait. The first vision surely sounds more attractive to potential recruits than the latter. In sum, the combination of these factors illustrates that UUVs could pose a serious economic, political, and military alternative to the development of

fensive benefit. UUVs simply do not have this problem: The loss of steel, plastic, metal, and electronics would not cause a public backlash the way that loss of life would. The ROC Navy’s ability to recruit enough crew for its new fleet of submarines might also present a serious challenge. The Taiwan military’s recruiting num-

manned submarines. It is therefore imperative to conduct further studies into the feasibility and utility of such systems. Rather than betting on a single manned horse, the Taiwan defense establishment should consider multiple options. With China’s rise and increasingly assertive behavior, Taiwan has little room for costly strategic errors. n

The hunters become the hunted

b  25

Strategic Vision vol. 7, no. 39 (August, 2018)

Taking the Gloves Off Taipei has opportunity to leverage more assertive US posture on cyber defense John Phillips

photo: Bill Smith An incident display screen tracks cyber attacks in real time. The US Congress has paved the way for a forward-leaning cyber security posture.


he deluge of commentary about American strategy in the era of President Donald Trump continues to mislead, confuse, and distort. The only consistent White House policy is economic and diplomatic arson, and parsing the rationality of arson is an oxymoron. Despite this, there are other ways to discern America’s international strategic outlook. After all, the most important American policymaking body is the US Congress, and its role in foreign policy is clearly stated in the Constitution of the United States (despite the ongoing failure to exercise its duty to take a position on

on American extended deterrence, should look to Congress for guidance. One of the most striking changes to American national defense policy since 2016 is found in the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included significant changes to American use of cyber operations. Congress has authorized a forwardleaning cyber security posture that frees US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) to engage in offensive, continuous operations. While the tactical use of cyber operations has not dramatically changed, the strategic implication has, especially for Taiwan.

matters of war). Therefore, where reading the mind of the White House is next to impossible, Congress is a suitable and more desirable alternative. Partners to the United States, especially those that depend

In particular, section 1642 of the NDAA authorizes USCYBERCOM to engage in direct, offensive military operations against Russia, Iran, North Korea, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The au-

John Phillips is an independent consultant and Luce Scholar based at the Taiwan Center for Security Studies. in Taipei. He can be reached for comment at john.t.phillips2@gmail.com


thorization by Congress of offensive cyber operations (euphemistically called “active defense”) is no trifle. Under the Obama administration’s Presidential Policy Directive-20 (PPD-20), authority to launch cyber attacks required significant interagency support. Operational value was weighed against the needs of diplomatic offsetting, alternative courses of action and, notably, legal considerations. In so doing, cyber operations were slow to begin and, as such, slow to take effect. The wait was so long that it often caused the United States to forfeit the tactical advantage afforded by momentum and catching adversaries off balance. By preemptively authorizing cyber operations in a manner similar to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (the difference being that the War Powers Resolution was not invoked), Congress has delegated legal authority to the executive branch to act and, with it, strategic flexibility. In other words, in the case of these four countries, legal constraints for offensive cyber operations are nil. With that one major hurdle removed, cyber operations can be authorized and pursued more or less at the whim of the decision-making authority.

Eliminating hassle Using this new authority, the Department of Defense (DOD) released a summary strategy for cyberspace which eliminated the hassle of interagency authorization and review established by PPD-20. The strategy includes several important statements, notably that the DOD “must take action in cyberspace during day-to-day competition” and that the DOD will “conduct cyberspace operations to collect intelligence and prepare military cyber capabilities” for potential crisis or conflict. It goes on to state that the DOD intends to “strengthen the security and resilience” of networks and systems and, also, “collaborate with our interagency, industry, and international partners.”

The implications for Taiwan are significant. PRC war planning for an aggression against Taiwan generally follows a few similar themes. In each, the most critical element of a PRC attack would be the rapid destruction of Taiwan’s ability to self-govern. Whether launching a blockade, a limited coercive attack, or a full-scale invasion, the PRC would attack communications infrastructure, government buildings and officials, Internet connectivity, electricity, and other basic services. The rationale is that the absence of an information infrastructure would inhibit Taiwan’s ability to mobilize its military reserve, and a lack of effective governance would foment societal panic. The chaos of a shock-and-awe campaign would lead the people to become docile and more or less accept salvation by the PRC. Docility precedes surrender, or so this line of thinking goes. In line with this thinking, the PRC has centralized authority of its information related capabilities within the Strategic Support Forces (SSF). While PRC hacking and cyber-espionage are well-known phenomena, the SSF is a military force that exists to achieve military objectives. We can see in the SSF a foreshadowing of PRC objectives to incorporate offensive cyber capability in an attack to disable critical information infrastructure that would otherwise enable Taiwan to inform its civilians, mobilize its military, and defend its territory from PRC invasion. Therein lies the challenge—and opportunity—for Taiwan, which is no stranger to PRC cyber intrusion and political warfare. Taipei has begun taking the necessary steps to improve its ability to withstand cyber attack. Indeed, Taiwan’s cyber development strategy is a remarkably clear-eyed assessment of its deficiencies and vulnerabilities. The solutions proposed by the strategy are comprehensive, and include human capital development to critical information infrastructure protection in partnership with industry and academia. Those recommendations have largely been translated into official policy

Taiwan Cyber Defense  b  27

by the May 2018 initial passage of the Cybersecurity Management Act (CMA) by the Legislative Yuan. That act is currently pending implementation. The CMA misses a significant opportunity to contribute to Taiwan’s broader strategic security and deterrence against the PRC, however. Joint training and exercises in cyberspace are a low-cost, low-visibility opportunity for Taiwan to partner with the United States to increase its force readiness, identify critical shortfalls, and enhance its resilience against a potential large-scale cyber attack. This matters. Cyber operations, both defensive and offensive, have the possibility of radically transforming Taiwan’s security posture. As another assessment has shown, Taiwan is capable of defending itself from the PRC, but that assessment largely failed to take into account the potentially revolutionary implications of cyber operations. In a PRC invasion scenario, cyber operations could completely debilitate Taiwan’s command-and-control nodes, thereby eliminating Taiwan’s self-defense capability. Conversely, the beauty of cyber operations is that it is almost impossible to determine who has what capabilities. This is partly what makes the idea of

international regulation of cyber weaponry so difficult and, indeed, unlikely. As such, if the PRC were to launch an attack on Taiwan, it risks its operational success on two very dangerous gambles: First, the PRC is betting that the United States would remain entirely on the sidelines, including in cyberspace. Second, the PRC assumes that it can withstand US offensive cyber capability and continue to wage a complex, multidomain armed conflict against Taiwan. If these two gambles seem far-fetched, that would be because they are. Taiwan policymakers should recognize this convergence between their national security and American strategy, and capitalize on it. Taiwan has already taken the vital step of pursuing critical information infrastructure protection, thereby increasing its ability to withstand a PRC cyber assault. It should now pursue stronger cooperation with the United States to pursue interoperability in cyberspace. In so doing, Taiwan would be strengthening its status beneath the American deterrence umbrella, improving its ability to withstand PRC invasion, and hopefully gaining an ally in cyberspace that can disrupt a PRC attack while still in its critical stages. n

photo: Samual Souvannason Sailors stand watch in the Fleet Operations Center at the headquarters of US Fleet Cyber Command/US 10th Fleet at Fort Meade, Maryland.

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