Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Taiwan to Stop Efforts on Acquiring F-16 C/D: Report

Wendell Minnick reported in Defense News on Wednesday that “Taiwan has suspended an effort to convince the U.S. government to release a squadron of F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighter jets to cover the downtime of one F-16A/B squadron undergoing lengthy upgrades.” While such a move is not entirely unexpected (as Taiwan has waited patiently for an answer regarding its request for a total of 66 block C/D's since 2007), if true it could potentially damage Taiwan's standing with one of its most staunch supporters: The United States Congress.  While Taiwan has looked to stop asking for C/D's to cover the offline time of A/B squadron's that are being upgraded, the request was not ever likely to be fulfilled, as such a move would have crossed one of China's self-imposed "red lines" in terms of weapon sales to Taiwan.  Additionally, Taiwan asking for the "temporary use" of C/D's while its existing fleet of A/B's were being upgraded was a crafty request, but one that it likely did not have much hope of being fulfilled.  While Taiwan still states that it does desire its full request of C/D fighters, it has not made an official request to the United States to fulfill the request since 2007.  Many members of Congress have been pressing the State Department and both the Bush and Obama White House to approve the request with a higher sense of urgency than even Taiwanese government officials have done publicly in the past 6 years.

The Taiwan-United States relationship is one of the few issues in Congress that has consistently maintained bi-partisan support, as its members have by and large attempted to force reluctant Presidential Administrations (and often State Department officials) to adhere to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 that ensures “...the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” Although the current Obama Administration (and previous Bush Administration) did not approve the sale of the F-16 C/D to Taiwan, pressure was being applied by Congress to do so.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) wrote a series of letters to the White House, asking that it send Taiwan's F-16 purchase request to Congress for ratification. In April of 2012, there was a marked change of tone from previous White House responses:
"We are mindful of and share your concerns about Taiwan's growing shortfall in fighter aircraft as the F-5s are retired from service and notwithstanding the upgrade of the F-16A/Bs. We recognize that China has 2,300 operational combat aircraft, while our democratic partner Taiwan has only 490. We are committed to assisting Taiwan in addressing the disparity in numbers of aircraft through our work with Taiwan's defense ministry on its development of a comprehensive defense strategy vis-a-vis China," --Robert Nabors, Director of White House Legislative Affairs

Additionally, recent bills in the U.S. Congress have addressed the F-16 C/D issue. The Taiwan Policy Act of 2011 (HR 2918), and  The Taiwan Policy Act of 2013 (HR 419) both included language that would have placed a great deal of pressure on the Obama Administration to accept Taiwan's Letter of Request (LoR), and allow Congress to vote on the requested sale; a sale that would likely be passed if brought to a vote in the House and Senate. Such a decision by the Ma Administration to fore go the F-16 request, while members of Congress have been spending considerable political capital to push the issue in both the Legislative and Executive branches of American government, could cause many long time supporters of Taiwan in Congress to question that countries' level of national security commitment.

While Taiwan's recent Quadrennial Defense Review stated that the Ministry of National Defense will look to develop 4th generation indigenous fighter aircraft in place of the F-16 C/D fighters, such a proposal is a long-term goal, and does not fill Taiwan's immediate air force needs (as a sizable portion of its fleet are aging F-5 aircraft that are slated to be retired within two years).  Additionally, Taiwan has stated its desire to not only develop its own 4th generation fighter; but to acquire a modern submarine fleet as well.  Such platforms will take years, if not decades to acquire, and will take billions to secure---an amount that Taipei  has not recently been willing to spend.

This recent development, coinciding with Taiwan's low annual defense budget of nearly 2.2% (that does not reach close to President Ma's pre-2008 campaign goal of at least 3.0%), will likely be a cause of concern among members of Congress until the current administration shows a renewed commitment to Taiwan's national defense.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Land Grab: How China could apply the Argentina-Falkland argument in its objective to annex Taiwan

      It is understandable if upon an initial observation one failed to find a correlation between current British jurisdiction of the Falkland Islands and the Chinese Communist Party's objective of the annexation of Taiwan.  After all, there is no apparent history that would connect the two disputed territories where such a comparison would easily be made.  Yet upon further examination, the recent referendum vote on the Falkland Islands, and the statements from Argentinian government (which continues to lay claim to the islands) that followed, could be carefully studied by the Chinese leadership in Beijing as a method in which it could modify its claim on Taiwan in the future if present trends within Taiwanese society continue.

         From  historic, geographic, and social points   of view, the Falkland Islands share a number of similarities with Taiwan.  Both have been "discovered" and claimed by multiple states throughout the previous centuries, both lie in proximity to powerful regional states that claim them as sovereign territory, and both have populations that do not wish to alter the current "status quo" in terms of their political arrangements.

     For those familiar with Taiwanese history, the following will sound eerily familiar:

     While a number of states had dealings of various levels with the Falkland Islands, it was the British who finally established a firm grip on the territories during the beginning of the 20th Century, previously Argentina had established a presence on the island, but were pushed out by a stronger British navy.  Argentina, however, never relinquished its claims on the islands, and continued to negotiate with the British regarding their status.  Such negotiations led to the first direct air links between Argentina and the Islands, as well as an agreement that gave the Argentine national gas company exclusive rights to the Falklands' energy needs.  Yet the British Governor of the islands, in his first cable back to England stated that "There is no way we will convince these islanders that they will be better off as part of Argentina".

     In 1982, in an attempt to reclaim the territories, Argentina invaded the Falklands with the hope that a smaller British military presence in the region would enhance the possibility of recapturing the islands.  A war ensued and the islands have remained under British jurisdiction until present day.  Argentina continues to claim that the islands are part of its territory, due to the fact that it gained independence from Spain in 1816, and the islands were taken away by force by the British years later in 1833.

     China, much in the same context, has claimed that Taiwan is an inherent part of its territory due to the fact that it believes upon establishment of the PRC in 1949, all previous territory that was under the jurisdiction of the ROC was to then be considered part of the newly established PRC.  And much as Argentina believes that it is being denied its rightful territory by a stronger illegal occupier in Great Britain, China has long felt Taiwan has been under the protection of the United States.

     On March 9th, a referendum was carried out on the Falkland Islands asking the question: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?"  Although the island only maintains a permanent population of less than 2,000 people, the results were conclusive:  1,514 voted "yes" with 3 voting "no", with a turnout of 92%.  The voters of the islands were able to vote without fear of large Argentinian neighbor threatening military action due to a British military presence on the island, and voted accordingly.  If the residents of Taiwan were given a similar vote on maintaining its current status, or to choose joining the PRC, the results, while surely not reaching the 92% range, would surely have the same results that were reached on the Falklands if its citizens were given the same scenario of security.

     The Falkland Scenario is one that Beijing must prepare on two levels.  First, it must realize that the Taiwanese identity will strengthen, not weaken over time, and its overtures of cultural bondage with the people of Taiwan will increasingly fall on deaf ears as time progresses.  The current methods of economic carrots and its perceived notions of historical-ethnic ties with people on Taiwan do not have the staying power that will bring about the outcome Beijing desires. Undoubtedly, the PRC is aware that if Taiwan were permitted to have a similar Falkland referendum, the results would wash away any perceptions of a peaceful annexation of Taiwan with both Taiwanese and Chinese alike.  With this reality, China must justify potential military action towards Taiwan  by looking through another prism. 

     Following the March 9th Falkland referendum, Argentinian ambassador to Britain, Alicia Castro  made a shrewd comment regarding the outcome, stating "We respect that (the islanders) want to stay being British, but the territory they inhabit is not."  In one simple sentence, Castro was able to separate the people residing on the Falklands from the territory itself.  Realizing that no volume of economic carrots would alter the mindset of its citizens, the argument was shifted to one of simply territorial rights.  Could the PRC eventually choose to follow the Argentina-Falklands territory model?  With each year that passes without a resolution between Taiwan and China over their differences,  the possibility grows more likely.  China could choose to read the writing on the wall and see that no amount of lop-sided economic treaties, no amount of references to "Chinese brotherhood" will alter the growing strength of Taiwanese identity, and could elect to deal with Taiwan as a territorial issue--- simply a lost piece of territory---people be damned.  If China's  objective to annex Taiwan  were to be achieved without the need to separate the issues of people and territory,  the offer of a "Hong Kong style" of arrangement in the attempt to placate Taiwan's population  could be off the table, and in its place an occupied Taiwan could feel more like Tibet or Xinjiang.  Hopefully, the PRC does not look to Buenos Aires for a philosophy to justify territorial claims to follow.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Expert Raises Questions on Taiwan's Submarine Modernization Platform Goals

     Throughout the past two decades, various administrations in Taiwan have expressed interest in modernizing the country's submarine fleet.  However,  high acquisition costs, political pressure from China, and resistance  from many within the American defense industry have all placed obstacles in front of Taipei's objective of acquiring such a platform.

There are also some  experts who question if Taiwan's goal to acquire modern submarines is a wise one. The following are portions from an interview done with a leading authority on submarine-naval warfare regarding Taiwan's desires for modern submarines, as well as the abilities of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to counter such a platform.  The expert wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the topics.

Drawbacks to Taiwan Acquiring Submarines: 
" I think that Taiwan would be more secure by not buying submarines, and should instead buy or develop things like more, smaller anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM)-equipped fast attack craft (FAC), mobile coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCM), mobile short ranged surface-to-air missiles, moblile multiple launch rocket launchers, and infrastructure that can withstand a PLA bombardment while still providing basic services to Taiwan's population."

"The other parts to carefully consider are the answers to questions such as: 1.  How many submarines could Taiwan get?  (Answer: probably very few)  2.  How many submarines can Taiwan keep seaworthy and capable of performing their mission?  (Answer:  Probably fewer than the previous answer - submarines break, a lot, and are very difficult to maintain. Roger, Taiwan already does pretty well at that, however.)  3.  When would Taiwan actually get any new submarines? (Answer: probably not quickly, perhaps only in decades, and yet Taiwan needs enhanced defenses very quickly.)  4.  What would be the wartime missions of the submarine, and can other cheaper things do those missions as well or better? (Answer:  I think they can be used for counter-blockade, counter invasion, and counter-commerce.   I think counter-blockade can be done better by CDCMs, by attack helicopters, mines,  and by ASCM-equipped fast-attack craft.  So too can counter-invasion.  I think counter-commerce is an unnecessary, ultimately ineffective, needlessly escalatory, and counter-productive mission for Taiwan.)  5.  What are the peacetime mission submarines would perform?  (Answer: ISR, but the things that submarines can provide to Taiwan can probably be gotten much more cheaply via other means.)"

The Current State of China's Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW)  Capabilities:

"The short, flippant, and accurate answer is they are weak in nearly every aspect of ASW, but I also see a recent emphasis on taking steps to remedy that weakness.   So, we've recently seen internet photos of a Y-8 that looks as if it is a maritime patrol aircraft, Z-9s, Z-9s, and other ASW-related helicopters, more Yuans being launched, and pictures of towed array sonars that are allegedly on some PLAN frigates.  Those all represent a start, but China faces a very long march  before it achieves anything approaching ASW prowess.  This could be taken as a reason for Taiwan to invest in submarines, right?  However, I think that that is only part of the issue."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

3-15-2013 Speech by former AIT Director William Stanton on National Security and Taiwan's Future

Below is yesterday's speech by former AIT Director William Stanton at the World Taiwanese Congress yesterday in Taipei.  Mr. Stanton was kind enough to allow a number of people to repost the speech, on the condition that it was printed in its entirety.  

National Security and Taiwan's Future
Remarks by William A. Stanton
World Taiwanese Congress
Taipei, Taiwan
March 15, 2013

Thank you, Dr. Kao, President of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, for your kind introduction. And special thanks to Ms. Susan Chang, convener of the World Taiwanese Congress, for inviting me to attend this year's conference to address the critical issue of Taiwan's national security. …. [Acknowledge other VIPs]….. ladies and gentlemen, ….. Good Morning! 

Before I begin, let me stress that I speak only for myself. Although I spent 34 years as an American diplomat, I no longer work for the U.S. Government, and I am no longer Director of the American Institute in Taiwan. I do not represent anyone's views but my own.

That said, I also speak as someone who has spent a good share of my diplomatic career thinking about Taiwan and about Taiwan's national security. And I also speak as someone who cares deeply about Taiwan, its people and its culture, and who enjoys living here.
Perhaps the best evidence of this is that I have remained in Taiwan even after retiring from the Foreign Service. 

But I also continue to worry a great 
 about Taiwan. I worry because I sometimes think the Taiwanese people do not worry enough.

Let me try to explain what I mean by that. (2) I see Taiwan as a modern miracle, and an astonishing success story. Working with virtually no natural resources but the talent, hard work, and determination of its people, Taiwan in fewer than 50 years managed to pull itself out of poverty and away from a military dictatorship and create a vibrant democracy and a thriving economy.

Taiwan today remarkably ranks as the 20th largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (3), according to the CIA's World Factbook, ahead of such economies as Argentina, the Netherlands , Hong Kong, Switzerland , and Singapore. Even on a strictly per capita GDP basis, Taiwan ranks 27th in the world, ahead of the United Kingdom (33rd), Japan (36th), the EU (39th), and South Korea (40th).

Similarly, Taiwan more recently ranked 20th in the world (4) in the Heritage Foundation's 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, well above mainland China's ranking in 136th place. (5, 6)

The people of Taiwan clearly have much to be proud of. The best values embodied in Chinese culture -- including a stress on 
, family, and hard work -- have truly paid off. And when Taiwan decided how it would be governed, it chose wisely, pursuing democracy and the principles of freedom, human rights and the rule of law, rather than the Marxist-Leninist rule of a one-party state.

But what makes Taiwan special goes beyond its values. I like to joke with my Taiwanese friends that Taiwan is the most Latin or most Mediterranean of Confucian societies. By that I mean, the Taiwan people are incredibly, warm, hospitable, and friendly. They welcome foreigners like me. 
And even while they work hard, they love to eat and drink with friends and family, to sing, and to enjoy life. (7) The Taiwanese have indeed created a unique and successful culture. 

Why then am I worried?

I worry because, to judge by the Taiwanese I know, they -- like most people everywhere -- are preoccupied with making a living, raising their families, working hard, and enjoying life. Yet Taiwan remains uniquely vulnerable.

Perhaps because its way of life and indeed its very existence have been under threat for so long, even while Taiwan has flourished, the Taiwanese do not always seem to be paying as much attention to their future as they should.
Meanwhile, the media and some in politics, like the media and politicians everywhere, including the United States, often seem preoccupied with trivial political in-fighting and entertainment. Too few seem to focus on the fundamental issue of where Taiwan is headed. Too few, in other words, think about Taiwan's national security. 

I believe national security needs to be understood in the broadest sense. Although it includes Taiwan's armed forces and weapons, it depends just as much on a range of other issues. Allow me to review a few, in no particular order, for in my view all are important to Taiwan's security.

Let's start with Taiwan's demographic challenge. (8) As many of you know, except perhaps for a brief spike during last year's auspicious Year of the Dragon, too few babies are being born in Taiwan. According to the CIA's World Factbook estimates in 2012, Taiwan's fertility rate was barely over one child per woman. (9) Taiwan ranked 221 out of 224 countries in the world.

Not last place, but pretty close. Taiwan's low fertility rate raises the prospect of future labor shortages, falling domestic demand, and declining tax revenues. Among the many consequences, one of the most obvious is the prospect of an increasingly older population with increasingly fewer young people to pay for the medical and retirement costs of the aged. 

A related challenge (10) is that there are already too few students to fill what are now more than 160 Taiwan 
 in an overall educational system that is widely acknowledged to need reform . In the longer term, there will also be far fewer young people with the energy and creativity to build the Taiwan of the future. 

Energy security is another looming challenge for Taiwan, given the absence of major indigenous energy sources and its dependence on importing fossil fuels. (11)The problem is even more serious because the consensus of most Taiwanese appears to be that Taiwan should give up nuclear energy. 

It is not at all clear, however, how nuclear energy will be effectively replaced to sustain Taiwan's huge needs. According to the CIA's World Factbook 's latest estimates, as of 2009 Taiwan ranked 18th in the world in its consumption of electricity, and ranked 12th in the world in the size of its oil imports. 73.6 percent of Taiwan's total installed energy capacity came from fossil fuels, 12.5 percent came from nuclear energy, 4.7 percent from hydroelectric power, and 2.7 percent from renewable sources.

Most experts with whom I have spoken say there is no way the difference nuclear energy makes can be supplanted by anything but more fossil fuels if Taiwan wishes to sustain its energy-intensive industrial base. Fossil fuels also carry the high cost of high carbon emissions, and there is no way to import them in the event of a blockade.

It is very easy to say "no" to nuclear energy, but it is much more difficult to find alternatives. Taiwan has tough decisions to make.

One area where we might think we would find no major source of concern is Taiwan's economy. As I have already noted, Taiwan's GDP and purchasing power parity figures are strong. In addition, Taiwan runs a large trade surplus, and its foreign reserves are the world's fourth largest, behind only China, Japan, and Russia. 

Yet there are reasons for concern. (12)

As many observers have noted, Taiwan's economy is increasingly dependent on China. 

Now, as economists will correctly argue, this is natural. After all, Taiwan and China have cultural and linguistic affinities, close proximity, and complementary economies almost ready made for close linkage as partners in a production chain supplying developed countries.

It is therefore not surprising that Taiwan's smart business people would lash up with the world's fastest-growing major economy, with growth rates averaging 10% annually over the past 30 years. (13)

What makes sense, however, from an economic point of view does not necessarily make sense from a national security perspective. Over the past few years, China, including Hong Kong, has become Taiwan's largest export market, taking some 40 to 42 percent of Taiwan's production. (14) Meanwhile, since 2005, China has overtaken the United States to become Taiwan's second-largest source of imports after Japan. China is now also Taiwan's number one destination for foreign direct investment

This economic dependency is problematic for a number of reasons.

First, as China continues to develop its high-tech industries, Taiwanese manufacturers will encounter increasing competition from their former best customers. Taiwan clearly needs to diversity its customer base.

Second, the easier and more immediately profitable preoccupation with trade with mainland China has both distracted and limited Taiwan's interest in developing trade with other partners. China reinforces this pattern by leveraging its economic weight against those who would seek expanded trade agreements with Taiwan without Beijing's approval. (15)

This focus on trade with China also in turn reinforces Taiwan's diplomatic isolation because Taiwan is not developing those regional and global ties that would give other countries a larger material stake in Taiwan's future. More extensive international trade ties would likely prove far more valuable to Taiwan in shaking its isolation than increased participation as an observer in international organizations.

Third, Taiwan's preoccupation with the ECFA Agreement, as valuable as it might be in itself, is at this point still a kind of "most favored nations" bilateral trading agreement, which serves as a poor model for the kind of free trade agreements which Taiwan needs to pursue to ensure deeper integration into the regional and global economies. ECFA has helped reinforce an unfortunate Taiwanese public perception that a trade agreement can be both beneficial and painless.

Fourth, ECFA did not require the politically difficult economic liberalization that Taiwan needs to implement to ensure an independent and prosperous economic future. In particular, Taiwan as a trading nation needs to find the political courage to end protectionism. It needs to avoid the prospect that in the future, it will again stall its trading relationship with the United States over an issue like beef because it wants to protect its domestic agricultural base. Agriculture in Taiwan, after all, only accounts for 1.8 percent of Taiwan's Gross Domestic Product.

Fifth, the risk of dependency on trade gives China leverage against Taiwan that is dangerous so long as the two sides remain politically divided. For example, in the fall of 2009 mainland tourist groups suddenly cancelled their visits to Kaohsiung over plans there to show a documentary about Uighur political dissident Rebiya Kadeer. If there are economic consequences for something so trivial, what might Beijing do in response to what it regards as a more serious offense?

In addition to China becoming Taiwan's most important export market, China is now also Taiwan's number one destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). According to some informal estimates, Taiwan may have historically invested as much as $300 billion USD in the mainland. (16) 

There is of course a certain symmetry and also irony in the fact that the major reason for Taiwan's economic success in recent years has been its booming trade with China. After all, it was the massive investments that Taiwan first put into China beginning in the late 1980s -- along with Taiwanese business experience and technological expertise -- that helped jump start China's economic miracle and in turn strengthen its military forces which now threaten Taiwan.

Even as Taiwan's economic success is increasingly linked to China, Taiwan is also increasingly losing the regional competition in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Currently, (17) according to the CIA's 2012 World Factbook, Taiwan ranks 52nd in the world as the destination for FDI, behind Hong Kong (3), China (7), Singapore (15), Thailand (27), Japan (28), South Korea (29), Indonesia (32), Malaysia (33), and Vietnam (47). Among comparable economies in Asia, it outranks only the Philippines (62).

According to the Financial Times 2012 report on Foreign Direct Investment, in 2011 Taiwan did not rank among the top 10 destinations in Asia for FDI. In other words, Taiwan is increasingly invested in China, but others are not investing in Taiwan. 

It remains to be seen how much China will be able to fill this FDI vacuum. 
Three cross-Strait financial memoranda of understanding, covering banking, securities, and insurance, took effect in mid-January 2010, opening Taiwan to greater investments from the mainland's financial firms and institutional investors, and providing new opportunities for Taiwan financial firms to operate in China.

Closer economic links with the mainland bring greater opportunities for the Taiwan economy, but also once again pose new challenges as Taiwan becomes more economically dependent on China while political differences remain unresolved.

Two other worrisome phenomena that threaten Taiwan's national security are industrial espionage directed at stealing Taiwan's intellectual property and an ongoing "brain drain." Both are closely linked to China. (18)

Chinese industrial espionage first came to my attention from major American corporations here in Taiwan, where the United States still holds its position as the Taiwan's number one foreign investor. More than one top executive at high-tech firms described to me the problem of Taiwan engineers receiving huge financial incentives as well as other benefits from mainland companies if they would leave their jobs in Taiwan, move to China, and bring downloaded company secrets with them. 

If you look on the internet, however, you will see that there many reports on similar thefts from Taiwan companies. For example, last October, two former executives from the Taiwanese flat panel-maker and Apple supplier, AU Optronics, were arrested on suspicion of stealing advanced light-emitting diode technology for their new employer in China, TCL. They reportedly were receiving annual salaries in excess of $1 million USD from TCL while still employed at AU Optronics.

More recently of course, (19) the New York Times reported extensive cyber -attacks dating back years against U.S. companies and also aimed at stealing their technology. The cyber-security firm, Mandiant, which uncovered the source of the attacks, concluded in in their public report that: "The sheer scale and duration of sustained attacks against such a wide set of industries from a singularly identified group based in China leaves little doubt …the organization behind [the attacks]" is "the 2nd Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Department’s (GSD) 3rd Department which is most commonly known by its Military Unit Cover Designator as Unit 61398." 

Meanwhile, a more overt form of loss for Taiwan has been a serious ongoing brain drain. (20) According to a story published in The China Post last month, Taiwan's LCD panel industry has lost many of its executives and engineers to competitors in China. The same story cited a report by a private consulting firm showing that 69 percent of the Taiwan companies it surveyed expected some of their employees to look for work in other Asian countries, particularly China, as well as Hong Kong and Singapore, in 2013. 

According to a report in Taiwan Today last September, Dr. Cyrus C.Y. Chu, Minister of the National Science Council (NSC), said at an NSC advisory meeting that "Taiwan's low salaries are driving the most capable away from the island." Meanwhile, Taiwan has been unable to attract skilled workers from abroad and, as a result, he said, "Taiwan has become a net exporter of talent." 

The same article in Taiwan Today attributed Taiwan's talent exodus to China's growing economic might. It cited a Taipei-based placement agency as saying "77 percent of local respondents saw working on the other side of the Strait as an opportunity for better career development and increased international exposure."

The net consequence of Taiwan's brain drain of course is that it becomes a less attractive destination for foreign investment, and there is less innovation and economic growth.

While all of the issues I have been addressing represent significant challenges to Taiwan's national security, they would not be so troubling if Taiwan were not forced to live under the continuing potential threat of an attack. (21) As unlikely as an attack may be, China's Anti-Secession Law --which went into effect eight years and one day ago (on March 14, 2005) --remains in force, and it still both defines and limits Taiwan's parameters of choice about its future. 

Meanwhile, Chinese military power has grown enormously since the law was passed. China's 2.3 million-strong army is more than 10 times as large as Taiwan's (22) and its ever expanding defense budget is more than 14 times greater. (23)

(24)According to the U.S. Department of Defense's 2012 Annual Report to Congress on PRC military developments, the PLA Navy now has the largest force of principal combatants, submarines, and amphibious warfare ships in Asia. China has 26 destroyers to Taiwan's 4; it has 53 frigates to Taiwan's 22; it has 48 diesel attack submarines and 5 nuclear attack submarines, to Taiwan's 4 submarines, two of which are of World War II vintage.

China's air combatant strength is equally daunting. (25) The PLA Air Force and Navy together have about 2120 operational combat aircraft, including air defense and multi-role fighters, ground attack, aircraft fighter-bombers, and bombers. In contrast, Taiwan has around 388 fighters and 22 bomber/attack aircraft.

In addition, the mainland advantage in land, air and sea-based missiles is overwhelming. (26)
At first glance, the huge superiority the mainland military increasingly enjoys might not perhaps seem so worrisome. After all, it is true that cross-Strait relations have significantly improved over the past few years. The United States and other countries have welcomed the stability that this rapprochement has helped to foster. 

At the same time, I firmly believe that sufficient self-defense forms the foundation from which Taipei can most confidently manage relations with Beijing, and thereby also contribute to both cross-Strait and regional stability. I know this has also been the position of both the current Taiwan government and of previous Taiwan governments as well.

For this reason, over the past four years I was pleased to see substantive efforts by Taiwan to strengthen its defensive capabilities, including the purchase of nearly $13 billion USD worth of defensive weapons systems. (27)

Nonetheless, Taiwan's overall defense spending strikes most expert observers as unrealistically low. (28) Since at least 1994 Taiwan's defense expenditures have steadily decreased both as a percentage of its GDP and as a percentage of total government spending. In fiscal year 2012, Taiwan's defense budget of USD $10.6 billion represented only 2.2 percent of GDP and only 16.4 percent of total government spending.

Compare those figures to 1994 when Taiwan devoted 3.8 percent of its GDP and 24.3 per cent of government spending to defense. Taiwan's defense spending has in fact been below 3 percent of GDP since the year 2000, a twelve-year period during which China's defense spending has massively increased.

A larger defense budget is not needed merely as a matter of buying more arms. (Let me add, by the way, that I am not here to promote arms sales!)

The need for more weapons systems, in fact, may be a moot question if Taiwan does not address other pressing problems. Simply put, there are insufficient funds to undertake the very expensive process of creating an all-volunteer military force which requires attracting and retaining recruits.

Nearly half of Taiwan's 2012 defense budget is already devoted to personnel costs, but that figure will have to climb since conscripted soldiers still make up about 60 percent of Taiwan's military. Of course the all-volunteer force assumes Taiwan can recruit enough soldiers. Consider that, according to a Financial Times report, in 2011 Taiwan's military recruitment drive only reached about half of its goal of 4300 soldiers.

At the same time that Taiwan is attempting to build a smaller, but more capable and professional volunteer force, it is also pursuing innovative and asymmetric approaches to defense. All such changes, however, also require more funding.

Absent a greater and more realistic commitment by the people of Taiwan to their defense budget, I am not optimistic that the Taiwan military can meet the objectives of it ambitious transformation plan. Unfortunately, as in every democracy, citizens want to be assured of a strong defense capability, but they are usually not willing to pay more taxes to obtain it.

One possible consequence of declining support for Taiwan's defense may be declining morale among Taiwan's forces, as evidenced by continuing incidents of successful Chinese espionage against Taiwan military. (29)

According to various media reports I could find, there were at least nine cases of Chinese espionage against Taiwan from 2004 to July 2011, and I am sure I missed several more. The most prominent of these was the arrest in early 2011 of Major General Lo Hsieh-che (羅賢哲) on charges of spying for China. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

As the head of the electronic communications department in the Taiwan Army, Lo was reportedly the highest-ranking officer ever caught spying for the mainland. According to media reports, Lo received money and other incentives to spy, but the United Daily News also observed that his actions were "definitely related to Lo's confusion over the country's future and the loyalty of military servicemen." 

There have been even more cases since July 2011. In August 2011, Taiwan's High Court sentenced Lai Kun-chieh, a Taiwanese software engineer, to 18 months in prison for trying to obtain sensitive information about Patriot missiles from a military officer. 

In March 2012, an Air Force Captain identified only by the surname Chiang
(蔣), who worked at an air operations control center in northern Taiwan, was arrested for allegedly passing intelligence on Taiwan's air-defense command and control system to China.

More recently, on February 5, 2013, Taiwan's High Court gave retired air force Lieutenant Colonel Yuan Hsiao-feng (袁曉風) 12 life sentences for passing classified military information to China over a period of six years. Yuan reportedly passed the secret information to China between 2001 and 2007 through Chen Wen-jen (陳文仁), a former colleague in the Air Force.

Also in early February, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed that a rear admiral had come under investigation as part of an espionage case involving the possible leak of Navy secrets. According to reports, Admiral Hsu Chung-hua (徐中華), commander of the 146th Flotilla based in Magong, Penghu, had been transferred from his position in connection with the case.

This case first emerged last year from the investigation of Lieutenant Colonel Chang Chih-hsin (張祉鑫), formerly a commander in charge of political warfare at the Taiwan Navy’s Meteorological & Oceanographic Office, which provides mapping data to the military. That investigation is continuing.

Also the same week in February, the Ministry of Defense announced that Army Major General Wu Chin-chun (吳金駿), reportedly a trusted aide to the Minister of National Defense, had been temporarily reassigned as investigators look into a possible connection between a relative of Wu and the Chang case, which has been described as possibly one of the most damaging espionage cases in recent years.

Even more recently, according to the Liberty Times, on February 27 a retired Taiwan Lieutenant General, Chen Chu-fan, was indicted for allegedly passing information to Chinese authorities via a retired Taiwan intelligence officer.

And on March 1, Chien Ching-kuo, a former Navy Lieutenant, was found guilty of leaking classified information to China and sentenced to three years in prison. It was learned that in August 2011 he had joined the Chinese Communist Party. 

Of course, these are only the cases that have been both uncovered and reported in the media, and other investigations are continuing.

What many of these incidents of espionage have in common is an effort to learn more about Taiwan's command and control and communication systems and U.S. weapons systems sold to Taiwan. 

These cases have been harmful not only because of the potential loss of unknown quantities of classified information, but also because their success and frequency serves to undermine U.S. confidence in security cooperation with Taiwan. 

It is also particularly troubling that so many of the espionage cases uncovered occurred at a time when cross-Strait relations were ostensibly better than ever before. 


These economic, military, and other challenges Taiwan faces would not be so troubling if in fact the Taiwanese people agreed that unification with China was not only inevitable, but also welcome. That, however, is clearly not the case.

Every Taiwan public 
opinion poll
 I have ever seen has concluded that the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese want to maintain the status quo – in some shape or form -- with China. Very few Taiwanese believe independence is a viable option, but even fewer want unification now.

For example, (30) a telephone survey conducted by National Chengchi University from March 30 to April 2 last year and released by the Mainland Affairs Council, showed the following results:

-- Only 1.5 percent of respondents supported “unification at the earliest possible opportunity.”
-- About 8 percent supported “maintaining the status quo and seeking unification at a later date.”
-- 6.1 percent wanted to declare independence as soon as possible
-- 15.7 percent believed that Taiwan should “maintain the status quo and declare independence later.”
-- 29.9 percent said the “status quo” should be maintained in perpetuity. 
-- Another 32.4 percent of respondents said that the “status quo” should be maintained with any decision on unification left to the future. 

In other words, fewer than 10 percent of respondents supported unification with China, indicating that more than 90 percent of Taiwanese do not support unification. 

In fact, as a TVBS poll in February 2011 revealed, if the option of the "status quo" is removed from the polling questionnaire, the response is even clearer. (31) In the TVBS poll, given only the choice between becoming an independent nation or unifying with China, 68 percent of those responding chose "Taiwan independence" and only 18 percent chose "unification with China."

In any case, the very concept of a Taiwanese "status quo" is problematic for two reasons:
• First, it is in fact an illusion because the situation is constantly changing. As we have seen, China is getting increasingly strong and Taiwan is growing increasingly dependent economically. Taiwan is simply drifting closer and closer to the mainland. (32)

• Second, the cross-Strait relationship will not be decided by the Taiwanese people alone, and we do not know the extent of mainland patience with a status quo that does not move quickly enough in the political direction it wants. 

Advocates of eventual unification often consider themselves realists, arguing that Taiwan has little choice in any case. Meanwhile, they hold out the hope that over time China will evolve in a positive direction under the influence of the positive model Taiwan provides.

In my view, however, there is no evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is willing to countenance democracy or any challenge to its grip on power. If anything, as it has grown economically stronger, China has grown increasingly nationalistic, expansionist, and belligerent.

Hong Kong hardly provides an attractive model of integration into the mainland. Not to mention non-Han Tibet and Xinjiang which now constitute one-third of Chinese territory but which were never considered part of China until the Manchu Qing Dynasty took them over. (33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38)

It was during the Qing dynasty as well that the mainland first laid claim to Taiwan. And it was Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Ze-dong who first reasserted the Qing claims to this maximalist vision of China.

As always, (39) it is much easier to identify problems than to come up with solutions. And even when possible solutions are identified, implementation is never easy. Allow me to offer, however, a few preliminary suggestions for consideration.

First, I think there needs to be wider popular recognition and understanding of the national security challenges Taiwan faces. Such issues need to be an integral part of future national election campaigns and regular balanced coverage in the media. Controversial matters like nuclear energy should be the subject of serious national education and debate rather than just political jousting.

Second, Taiwan should further open its economy as it did when it joined the World Trade Organization, end short-sighted protectionism, and undertake measures that will attract more foreign investment and make free trade agreements with other countries possible. Stronger laws against industrial espionage should be introduced.

Third, the Taiwanese people should reexamine their support for national defense, draw the inevitable conclusion that more needs to be done, and act accordingly. Simply put, as a first step, more money needs to be spent on national defense. 

I recognize that such changes may not be popular or easy, but I also know that Taiwan has achieved great success in the face of enormous adversity. And Taiwan has so many friends, as is evident at this World Congress, who will support its efforts.

I look forward to discussing these and other issues during the course of the day. Thank you.