Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dipping the Toe in the Water: President Ma of Taiwan Ponders the Preconditions of a Meeting with PRC President Xi Jinping

  On July 26th in an interview with Bloomberg News , the President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou stated that in regards to any potential meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping would be determined by three major conditions.  "The most important factors are whether the country needs it, whether the people support it, that we can meet with dignity--those are the things that would make it possible", Ma said regarding as what he sees as preconditions of any sort of meeting.  Looking as these conditions in a bit more depth will show that there is perhaps a diplomatic  rationale behind Ma's answer to the question posed by Bloomberg, and it could perhaps damage Taiwan's interests in the long term.

I. "Whether the country needs it"  vs "The Greater Good"  
Leaders of countries tend to choose their words carefully, as most realize that what they say will be heard, analyzed, and digested by interested parties--constituents, the media, political allies and opponents alike, as well as parties who have a vested interest in the mind set of a head of state.  While perhaps it is of no importance that President Ma stated the needs of the country before weather the people support it in his statement, it is worth commenting on.  "Whether the country needs it" could be applied in very broad and abstract terms.  For example, the President could determine that the needs of "the state" could super cede the desires of its population, a "you'll thank me later" type mindset.  President Ma has shown in both words and actions that he does hold a traditional Kuomintang mindset of Taiwan being a part of a "Greater China".  As a result, the opportunity for him to promote a "Greater China" that consists of over 1.2 billion people could perhaps be of higher importance than a high level of support among the mere 23 million people who reside in Taiwan, many of who do not support his views of a Greater China, could play a role in the thought process of how far Ma is willing to go to in order to promote the idea of a meeting with the Chinese leader. Furthermore, there appears to be no real incentive for Taiwan to enter the realm of political discussions with China at this time considering the PRC's position that such talks would not be of a state-to-state nature. Any talks that would be held between Taiwan and China under this premise would likely encode Taiwan as part of "China", a notion that could have a detrimental impact on Taiwan's ability to negotiate with the PRC in any future potential talks. (More on this aspect later)

II. "Whether the people support it"  vs. Math and Time 

In 2011, President Ma floated the idea of a potential peace agreement with the PRC that was largely met with opposition from the Taiwanese population.   The reason for a potential peace agreement being dangerous for Taiwan is a simple one: It would likely encode wording that states Taiwan is a part of "China".  Considering that nearly 98% of the world's governments recognize the People's Republic of China as being the sole legitimate government of a Chinese state, Taiwan would likely be dealt a diplomatic death blow in its ability to claim that it is a separate sovereign state apart from the People's Republic of China.  While President Ma was quick to place the idea back into his pocket, the reality is that any such summit between leaders of Taiwan and China would likely include at least some conversation about an official peace agreement.  With nearly 70% of  Taiwan against a change in the status quo, the ability for President Ma to have such a meeting with President Xi before his second term concludes at the end of 2016 is nearly impossible if the Taiwanese public's opinions are taken into consideration.   President Ma has repeatedly stated that according to The Republic of China's Constitution, China proper is not considered a separate country from Taiwan, therefore not considering the PRC as separate from Taiwan.  If peace negotiations were to begin under such pretext, the gap between China and Taiwan would be considerably smaller than if Taiwan were to insist that it was a sovereign nation separate from China.

"I'm Waiting" 

III. "Meeting with Dignity" vs. Current State of Affairs 

For over forty years the People's Republic of China has done a masterful job of diplomatically isolating Taiwan from the international community to the point of absurdity.  From large scale objectives (making states who recognize China sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan) to the smallest (in 2008, the  small African country of Malawi, upon switching recognition from Taiwan to China, was "asked" by the PRC to pull thirty students studying Mandarin Chinese in Taipei, and relocate these students to Beijing for their Chinese studies).  Under current Chinese foreign policy, it would seem improbable that China would agree to Taiwan's precondition that President Ma be referred to as "President", rather than simply the chairman of the KMT.....right? If President Ma is in fact looking to ask China to dance before his term ended, perhaps it was because China was showing a little leg from across the room.  Consider the following:

"Xi last week sent a message of congratulations to Ma on the latter's re-election as KMT chairman.  The English-language report carried by the official Xinhua News Agency described Xi as top leader of the Communist Party of China, not as the country's president. (emp added). 

By China shrewdly playing with titles,  it appears that Beijing  is attempting to placate Taipei by  placing  Ma and Xi on equal ground by basis  of their political titles, simply by removing the title of President.  While this act alone is not enough to give Ma the "dignity" that he sees as a necessary precondition for political talks, it could be the precursor of more subtle actions from Beijing to Taipei in order to superficially raise Taiwan's status in such talks, as well as lower Beijing's (if only for appearance sake) to make such talks a reality.

Xi has kicked the idea of a peace summit with Taiwan back across the Strait--a politically savvy move indeed  


While the possibility of a summit between Presidents Ma and Xi is unlikely at the present juncture, it cannot be dismissed.  President Ma has shown over his tenure to be someone who holds traditional Kuomintang doctrine of a greater China in high regard, as well as a desire to cement his legacy as the ROC President who brought Taiwan and China closer than any time since 1949.  The fact that Ma also stated that the more than 1,100 Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan would be less of an impediment to a meeting with President XI than weather talks would be supported by the Taiwanese shows that he would be willing to enter into talks with not a gun pointed to his head, but rather 1,100 missiles, does not bode well for his claim in which he desires to meet with dignity with the PRC.  Ma should be careful when dipping his toes in the water---as there appear to be sharks circling within, and they smell blood.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What if? The Kuomintang's Plans for a Highway System in 1931 China

Interesting Article for the Day: 

 Another insane economic-social experiment thought up by Mao Zedong? Nope. Apparently in 1931, the Kuomintang government has its eyes on the Great Wall of China to become a national highway system .  I'm all for modernization, but seriously?  One could speculate how much of the central government's treasury funds would have been squandered on such a grand project before it was abandoned. Enough to limit the KMT's ability to wage war against the Communists? Probably not, but Chinese citizens and history buffs should be grateful that this project was never actually begun.

"...for besides its unquestioned military value, enabling the government to stamp out the incessant banditry in the interior provinces...."  -----Niiiiiice

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Discovery Channel 3-Part Documentary on Taiwan's Special Forces Units

Great look into the rigorous training these elite soldiers must endure to become frogmen in the Taiwanese Armed Forces 

Part 1 is about Taiwan's Army Frogmen training 

Part 2 covers Taiwan's Underwater Operations Unit training 

Part 3 shows Taiwan's Army Ranger Training 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Hong Kong Model: What would "One Country Two Systems" look like if it were applied to Taiwan?

If the Chinese government expects the Hong Kong Model to eventually be acceptable to the people of Taiwan, it will be sorely disappointed. 

Two American Secretaries of State, one from the past (Henry Kissinger) and one currently serving (John Kerry), have at different times in recent history stated their support for a "One China Two Systems" model that would in their view solve the long standing sovereignty dispute between Taiwan and China, which would allow for the primary impediment of improved relations between the United States and China to at long last be washed away.  If believing in this point of view, both Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Kerry would also have to accept the premise that the people of Taiwan would be accepting of such a grand bargain.  Both could be forgiven for failing to understand the complexities of  contemporary Taiwanese society: where it is currently, and the road in which it has traveled to arrive at its current point. For arguments sake, however, this article will attempt to take a speculative look at a scenario in which Taiwan were to enter into a "One China Two Systems" system that is similar to the system currently in place in Hong Kong; while taking the results of the  past 16 years of Hong Kong's experience under the system as a guide, as well as current trends in Taiwanese society.


Since the 1997 handover, Hong Kong has experienced seismic shifts both in its economic importance to Mainland China, as well as a number of troubling economic trends that have troubling signs for Hong Kong society.  In 1997, Hong Kong's contribution to the combined GDP of China plus Hong Kong stood at nearly fifteen percent, a figure that dropped to nearly three percent in 2012.  As China gets richer, Hong Kong will likely continue its downward slide of economic importance to China proper. As China's economy has been growing at well over 7.0% annually, Taiwan's GDP infusion would have an estimated  smaller impact mathematically in 2013 than that of Hong Kong in 1997, at 5.35%.

   It is not a well kept secret  that some of the strongest advocates of increasing Taiwan's relationship with China to even the point of  eventual unification are Taiwanese high level business executives who see China proper as a massive market with nearly limitless potential to turn profit, as well as having considerable political clout under such a system.  It is also likely that the stated executives wield substantially more power within Taiwanese society today than they would under a OCTS framework.  Taiwanese executives would be wise to look to the similar scenario that took place in Hong Kong in 1997--and where the  level of executive-political influence presently lies in Hong Kong.

Be careful what you wish for Terry Guo...

In 1997, officials in Beijing depended heavily on the tycoons of Hong Kong to lead the way in ensuring a stable transition from British colonial rule to Chinese control.  These business leaders did their part in placating fears among the citizenry of Hong Kong (and international investors), that an economic status-quo would be in place, and it would be business as usual within the city.  As time has passed, however, Beijing has had ample time to maneuver  its preferred leaders into prominent political and economic positions  (more on this aspect later).  Combining this fact with Hong Kong's decline in economic relevance, the tycoons who were once vital to Hong Kong's transition are now viewed by Beijing as actors who provide diminishing returns to their objectives within  the city.  In a Taiwan scenario, these tycoon types who currently hold a great deal of sway both politically and economically in Taiwan, would likely be counted on to have a similar role as their Hong Kong counterparts did.  However, these officials would quickly see their influence diminished as a result of being just a few fish within a much larger pond, and seeing their political relevance likely diminish with each year that passes by.

Socially, the economic ramifications of a One Country Two Systems (OCTS) approach would leave no aspect of Taiwanese society untouched.  With trade and investment barriers being removed on a wide scale following the handover, consider the following:

*In 2011, investors from Mainland China accounted for 25% percent of Hong Kong prime property purchases, which has resulted in pushing home prices out of reach for many aspiring middle class citizens

*Hong Kong's wealth gap, long being the highest in Asia, has reached its highest level in decades

It is more likely than not that Taiwan would experience similar results within a OCTS model.  With the housing market within Taipei already experiencing what many economists perceive as a housing bubble waiting to burst, a large influx of Chinese capital into the housing market would likely send the median home price in the city through the roof, causing even more discontent with aspiring homeowners than what currently exists.  Other major cities in Taiwan, such as Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan, and Hsinchu would likely see a considerable spike in real estate prices as well.

In the agricultural sector, Taiwanese farmers  would also face a bleak future, as China's agricultural industry attempts to emulate the quality of Taiwanese products, larger Chinese firms would likely have the ability to eventually produce similar products at a lower cost without the current trade barriers as a restriction to Taiwan's domestic market, forcing many producers in Taiwan to leave the industry.

In the tourism sector, Taiwan would also likely experience many of the similar effects that have been felt by Hong Kong since Mainlanders were permitted to enter the city on individual visas, rather than on the group visa program.  As Hong Kong based companies shifted much of their manufacturing base to China proper, tourism has grown as a vital economic aspect of the cities economy.  As a result, retail rental properties have skyrocketed in the city, rising as much as 32% in some prime locations, erasing the traditional landscape of some areas, such as Causeway Bay in the process.  In 2011, the retail chain Forever 21 opened its first store in Hong Kong in 2011, paying $1.4 million dollars in rent per month--the highest in the world in both total terms and square feet.
Forever 21 in Hong Kong

  While many areas in Taiwan would likely follow suit in developing areas that would cater to the influx of Chinese tourists, some would likely be in areas that are considered mainstays of Taiwanese society, such as night market areas.  It is likely that many areas within Taiwanese cities would become unrecognizable as they currently stand.


The cultural impact within Taiwan as a result of a OCTS implementation would be massive, and the results of which are far too large to be explored in depth here, but a brief (albeit simplistic) overview is needed. Ironically, studies and polls have shown that since the 1997 handover,  residents of Hong Kong have latched on tighter to the notion of being a citizen of Hong Kong that has an identity separate from Mainland Chinese, instead of forming an identity that is one of simply being "Chinese".  In 2011, a University of Hong Kong poll asked residents to rate how strongly they felt as being a "Hong Kong citizen", with the average rating being 8.23, the highest result in 10 years.  The same participants in the poll rated their feelings about being a "Chinese citizen" at an average of 7.01--a 12-year low.  With many residents increasing their  daily contact with the population from China proper, there was likely a feeling that while ethnically bonds are indeed shared, culturally wide differences have developed over time, resulting in some level of a nationality difference.

In the case of a similar poll taking place in Taiwan 15 years after a hypothetical unification scenario, the numbers would likely be much further apart in those identifying themselves proudly as "Taiwanese" and at the same time "Chinese citizens".  For over a half-century, the citizens of Taiwan have combined (often times with considerable friction) aspects of Chinese culture from a large influx of Chinese immigrants--refugees that occurred in the mid to late 1940s with an existing Taiwanese culture that was already firmly developed prior to their arrival, sprinkled with aspects of Japanese colonial rule that lasted sixty years--without the interference of the guiding hand of the People's Republic of China.  The result could in fact be compared to the formation of a separate American cultural identity that occurred prior to the American revolution, as distance between England and its colonies allowed for such a development to occur.  For many colonists, the bloodlines did not change, but their mindset and self-identity evolved. One example in which China shows its inability to understand the complexities of the evolution of Taiwanese self-identity is the way in which it classifies the aboriginal population of Taiwan.  While Taiwan recognizes 14 distinct and separate native Taiwanese aboriginal groups within its borders-- the PRC sees one.

They're all "Gaoshan" in the eyes of Beijing

 From the perspective of Beijing, this aspect of a OCTS approach  with Taiwan would be perhaps its most daunting challenge in making such an arrangement a success.  Thus far, China's appeals to Chinese brotherhood and bloodlines (which could have been more effective in centuries past) has only appealed to a small fraction of Taiwan's population.  China would have to take a long term approach in its attempt to successfully integrate Taiwan's population into a greater China model, a task that would almost certainly fail due to Taiwan's strongly entrenched sense of self-identity that grows stronger with each day it is not under the flag of the PRC.

Political Structure and Social Freedoms --The Firewall to Annexation 

Despite the bleak economic and cultural scenarios that have been proposed in this article, the political and social freedom aspect is one that is perhaps the strongest barrier to China's objective to implement the OCTS approach with Taiwan.  If proponents of the OCTS approach towards Taiwan hope to look to Hong Kong for a viable model--upon closer inspection their hopes would likely be dashed. The following is the reality of the OCTS approach that has taken place in Hong Kong presented in bullet point form:

* Prior to the 1997 handover, the 1984 Basic Law was devised for the governance of Hong Kong. Within the framework it stated that universal suffrage was the "ultimate aim" for Hong Kong--an objective that has not yet been met.  Most observers do not believe expect the universal suffrage to occur before 2017 ( the targeted year stated by Beijing), as the provision was not included in the 2010 electoral reforms.  The Law also restricts law making powers, prohibits legislators from introducing bills that would affect Hong Kong public spending, government operations, or political structure.

* The selection of the Hong Kong's chief executive is done by a system in which special interests controlled by a small circle of wealth tycoons select the person who will take the position.  In 2012 the committee chose Leung Chun-ying, a member of the Mainland government advisory body--and the preferred candidate of Beijing.  Officials from China's Liaison Office reportedly lobbied members of the election committee to vote for Leung, and castigated media officials from critical coverage of him (source 2013 Freedom House Report on Hong Kong)

*   In 2002 Pro-Beijing lawmakers in the city attempted to pass Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23, which included the following:

  • Any branch of an organization that is part of an organization banned by the central government of the PRC under state security reasons can be banned in Hong Kong at any time, and the Hong Kong government does not have to conduct any independent investigation.
  • The concepts of government and country are confused and exchangeable in the proposed document. In a democratic country, citizens are empowered with the right to monitor and check the government. The proposed enactment of Article 23 makes opposing the government the same as opposing the country.
  • In the proposed enactment, police are allowed to enter residential buildings and arrest people at any time without court warrants or evidence.
  • Any speech deemed as instigative can be regarded as illegal, including oral, written and electronic forms; it is a crime both to express, and to hear such speech and fail to report it.
  • Permanent residents of Hong Kong are under the power of this law, no matter where they reside. People who are in Hong Kong are also under the power of Article 23, regardless of nationality, including people who visit or transit through Hong Kong. Violations of Article 23 can result in a life term in prison. 

-Mass protests by the citizens of Hong Kong forced the legislature to suspend the vote and implementation of Article 23
-However in 2009, the territory of Macau (which was transferred from Portugal to China in 1999 ) passed the Macau Basic Law, which has exactly the same wording as Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law.

Media Suppression  in Hong Kong since 1997 

Exerpts taken from the 2013 Freedom House Report

"A 2012 poll conducted by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) found that for the first time, journalists’ concerns about tighter government control over access to information surpassed self-censorship as the most commonly cited threat to media freedom. Over the past two years, officials have increasingly used off-the-record briefings to announce policies and released official footage for news events rather than opening them to the press, while the police and fire departments have released less detailed and timely information about newsworthy incidents."

"In January, Wang Xiangwei, a mainlander who had once worked for the state-run China Daily, became the editor in chief of the popular local English-language paper South China Morning Post. He was accused of censoring the Post’s coverage of the suspicious death of Chinese dissident Li Wangyang in June, and of refusing to renew a contract with an award-winning reporter known for his articles about Beijing’s poor human rights record."

" Hong Kong journalists aiming to report from the mainland must obtain press cards from Beijing’s Liaison Office, though even with accreditation, they are often subject to surveillance, threats, beatings, and occasional detention by mainland authorities."

"At least three mainlanders were beaten or sentenced to labor camps after returning home from the July 1 protest in Hong Kong, the first such known cases of mainlanders punished for attending Hong Kong demonstrations."

As frustrated as Hong Kong residents are with their current political situation, it is vastly different from a potential Taiwan OCTS scenario for one primary reason.  The people of Taiwan have spilled considerable blood in their quest to establish a democratic form of representative government, and for this reason the vast majority of its citizens would be unequivocally opposed to any change that could effect their current democratic abilities.  While China has promised to maintain Taiwan's current governmental structure (with the exception of managing foreign policy), it would be impossible for it to do so.  The people of Taiwan would have the ability to elect representatives who could not only push back Chinese interests within Taiwan, the potential for speaking of Taiwanese independence would certainly be a possibility, something that Beijing does not have to deal with regarding the mindset of any large group in Hong Kong (....yet).  Such a scenario would force Beijing to allocate large resources towards maintaining public order inside Taiwan, and confronting millions of people who have become well-versed in the tactics of self-expression and have had prior exposure to living in a free and democratic society-- a potentially potent combination that could give Beijing headaches for years...or decades.  

In conclusion, there is no objective observer who could state that Taiwan and the majority of her population would beneficially gain from any sort of OCTS approach that is currently in place between Mainland China and Hong Kong.  Economic gains would be reaped by the top of Taiwanese society, while the rest of the population would likely see the gradual, if not subtle erosion of basic liberties that have become pillars of a modern Taiwanese society.  The government in Beijing likely sees a similar picture, as it continues to espouse an annexation of Taiwan by speaking of vague ancient territorial claims and a shared bloodline. Yet the people of Taiwan do not live in the past or seem willing to trade their hard-earned freedoms for something as tribal  as a shared ethnicity.  All the while citizens of Hong Kong look enviously across the Taiwan Strait to see what it is that they themselves desire most.  A society that still has the option to make a choice about its own future. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recent Geopolitical Developments in the East Asian Region

Busy doing research for the next few weeks for an upcoming project, so for now enjoy these links on recent developments taking place regarding the East Asian geopolitical scene.

Going Long

The United States navy is getting closer to developing its own "Carrier Killer" missile platform, the long-range anti-ship missile (LRASM).  The development is a necessary one for the U.S. military, as it looks to maintain the capability to strike adversaries from a distance outside a "danger zone" where its strike carrier fleets could remain relatively safe, from say an enemy ballistic missile threat.  Testing is likely to continue into 2014, and the project should remain safe from the recent federal government sequester budget cuts.

The Winds of Change 

James Holmes of the US Naval War College writes a great piece on Japan's need to change it's military structure.

China upset over US support of Taiwan's ICAO Observer Status....When they should be celebrating

China recently expressed its protest over a recent law signed by President Obama that supported Taiwan's bid for observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN-sponsored organization that promotes safe air travel, as well as keeps member states aware of the most up to date aviational safety regulations.  Rather than protesting, however, officials in Beijing should be doing this.  Why? Because for nearly 20 years the United States has held an official position of supporting Taiwan's Full Membership into international organizations that do not require statehood as a prerequisite. Taiwan officials in Washington DC (known by their acronym as TECRO officials) still insisted on pushing for observer status regardless.  I spoke about this particular issue when the bill was signed into law on Michael Turton's Taiwan-based site.

Brian Benedictus noted that there was a big TECRO (the Taiwan representative office in the US) push for this, remarking:
"[TECRO] knew what they were doing---which is setting a precedent--Which is to ask (and receive) support from Congress on Taiwan's international participation in a lesser degree than they should. This was a bad precedent to set, and Taiwan's international space actually got a little smaller tonight."

China releases its report on US-Japan Military Power 2012 

While the report is relatively void of aggressive wording against the United States per say, it does have a theme in which it states that US military exercises in the region are directed against China, and are not helpful for bilateral relations:

 "...exercises prepared against the so-called A2/AD threats are clearly targeting China and IranExercises such as Internal Look 2012 and Austere Challenge 2012 are clearly aimed at Iranwhile exercises such as Gold Cobra 2012, Balikatan 2012,RIMPAC 2012 are clearly targeting ChinaThe exercises which were large in scale,high in frequency and intensityand especially those that took place when tension in the region rosenaturally caused concern and anxietywhich in turn further intensified the situationexerting a negative impact on world peacestabilitycooperationand development."

Russian Vessels conducting  maneuvers during a recent joint exercise with Chinese military forces

The Chinese paper does not, however, mention recent joint-exercises that took place near Japan that consisted of PLA and Russian forces that were widely seen in Japan as provocative in nature.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Taiwan Reportedly Lobbying US Congress for assistance in acquiring new submarine platform

     What a difference a year makes.  In 2012 the hot topic around the beltway  regarding the U.S.-Taiwan arms sales relationship was seemingly focused on the long-pending sale of the F-16 C/D platform to Taiwan  (Actually this "pending" authorization has been in limbo for over twenty years and has covered four U.S. Presidential administrations).  With Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) leading the charge, many members of Congress were placing pressure on  the Obama Administration into authorizing the sale of the fighter jet platform, which would then allow for Congress to vote on the issue.  However, at least publicly, the Taiwanese government made no statements vocally to coincide with the U.S. Congressional push, and the issue of F-16's has remained in a state of limbo ever since.  During this time, the issue of another long standing request from Taiwan was considered dead in the water: the 2001 approval from the Bush Administration authorizing the sale of 8 diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan.  It's well known among those who follow this issue the complex logistics that would be involved in making this sale a reality, and this blog has a previous 2-part article discussing in depth the complexities of the issue.  However, a brief overview:

1.  The United States has not domestically produced diesel submarines since the 1950's, therefore it would likely need to find a third country that would be willing to aid Taiwan in either the production of the requested submarines, or more likely, transfer the blueprints to either Taiwan or the United States for production.

2.  Third countries have been reluctant to agree to such a sale for fear of Chinese economic reprisals.

     Yet in 2013 among many think tanks, military experts, and US government officials the issue of Taiwan acquiring submarines has suddenly.....pardon the pun....resurfaced.

The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), visited a Taiwanese Naval yard in Kaohsiung, and brought attention to Taiwan aging guppy-class subs, stating a need for Taiwan to modernize its submarine fleet. One source with knowledge to the visit stated that the Ma Administration was not aware that the issue of submarines was going to be brought up during the visit, and following the visit was "rather receptive" to the idea of pushing for the long-stalled purchase.  In addition to the Royce visit, a number of officials inside the halls of Congress have stated that Taiwanese officials from its TECRO office in DC have approached them in recent months regarding ways in which the sale could be facilitated.  The officials stated that the the talks focused primarily upon finding a third country that would be willing to transfer the blueprints and expertise to the United States, and then transferred to Taiwan, where the submarines would be built. American defense companies, most likely General Dynamics or Northrop Grumman, would be contracted to implement the weapon systems and electronics into the completed submarines. The sources also state that TECRO officials have specifically suggested that the United States "specifically approach Nordic countries to assess their interest in such a project." Currently, Sweden is the only Nordic country that actively has a domestic submarine production capability (although Denmark, Norway, and Finland  have the ability to transfer the technology on a smaller scale).

In 2006, a Swedish HSwMs Gotland-class submarine "defeated" a U.S. Navy carrier  in an exercise, as it  penetrated  the American defensive measures, essentially "sinking" the carrier. 

From the perspective of American interests in the region, increasingly aggressive behavior by various Chinese agencies in the disputed areas of the South and East China Sea over the past year could have triggered a change of heart regarding the importance of Taiwan obtaining the platform. The strategic benefits for Taiwan would be obvious:
- The ability to counter a potential PLAN blockade of Taiwan would allow Taiwan to keep vital sea lanes of communication open for potential American assistance in a conflict scenario---which is vital for Taiwan's chances of surviving such a conflict.
-Enhanced mine-laying capabilities
-Asymmetrical counter to upcoming PLAN aircraft carriers
-Chinese anti submarine warfare capabilities are still widely seen as poor, which would give Beijing pause to issuing a green light for any potential military action that would involve its maritime forces.

The completion of a sale could also have political implications within Taiwan. Unlike the F-16 platform, the diesel sub acquisition by Taiwan would likely  provide thousands of jobs domestically within Taiwan, with many of them being in Southern Taiwan, a traditional political stronghold of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Although unlikely to be finished in such short order,  if such a agreement could be completed,  the KMT government could point to the economic benefits for Taiwan before the 7-in-1 municipal  elections taking place in 2014.

Although the talks between the U.S. and Taiwan have appeared to begun on some level, they are merely informal, as Taiwan appears to be testing the waters for more meaningful discussions regarding its desire to see a modern submarine fleet as part of its naval capabilities. Such a scenario remains a distant prospect, albeit slightly more likely in the future.