Tsai Ing-wen Administration Determined to Protect Their Country Themselves
Taiwan Navy Independently Building Combat Ship

The Taiwanese navy announced a change in its policy to begin independently constructing naval vessels including capital ships. This will cost them 470 billion New Taiwan dollars (around US$14.6 billion) between 2018 and 2030.


Taiwan Pressured by China

The People’s Liberation Army Navy of China is modernizing its weaponry, but Taiwan is still using obsolete equipment from the United States. Taiwan’s ability to protect itself is substantially eroded by the use of such decrepit, second-hand equipment.

While Taiwan wants to import the latest naval vessels from elsewhere, China claims to own Taiwan under the “One China” principle and is restraining Taiwan’s right to self-defense.

China plots to annex Taiwan, so if other countries from Europe, the U.S. or Japan support Taiwan in strengthening its self-defense, those other countries will indubitably experience fierce opposition from China.

Towards the end of 2015, the Obama administration announced that it sold to US$1.83 billion worth of military equipment to Taiwan, including two guided missile frigates. China protested the deal through its ambassador in the U.S. and threatened to sanction any American companies participating in the sale.

This sort of pressure makes it difficult for Taiwan to procure weapons from Euro-American countries. Consequently, Taiwan decided to construct their own naval assets given the bleak prospects of gaining external support.


Risk of Military Technology Information Leaking

Another reason for the difficulty in exporting weapons to Taiwan is the possibility of information leaks by Chinese spies. The Liberty interviewed President Ming-juinn Li of the Taiwan Brain Trust, a pro-democracy think tank specializing in Taiwanese national defense. He said that many Chinese spies were arrested in Taiwan in the 8 years of the Ma Ying-jeou administration.

Worryingly, most of those charged with espionage were from the military. Retired Taiwanese military persons are given special treatment by China and have leaked confidential information in the past. Factors such as these make the United States reluctant to sell state-of-the art weaponry to Taiwan.

What can countries with no diplomatic relations with Taiwan, such as Japan, do under such circumstances?

The Liberty also interviewed York Chen in May just before he assumed office as the Deputy of the National Security Council of China. If the Taiwanese government cannot directly exchange military information with the government of the other country, it could deepen ties through private enterprises, he said. Other steps include sharing Taiwan’s radar information on North Korean missiles and eventually acquiring Japan’s submarine technology, Chen added.


Taiwan Indispensable to Japan’s National Defense

China is increasingly a financial power, and many countries with economic ties to that country are naturally inclined to consider China’s national interests. On the other hand, Japan can empathize more with Taiwan, as the two countries uniquely bear the brunt of China’s menace.

In fact, Taiwan’s national defense is an extension of Japan’s own national defense. The sea lane that carries oil to Japan passes close to Taiwan, and Taiwan is very close to Okinawa. It is imperative for Japan’s security to ensure that Taiwan remains free.

The possibility for Japan boldly cooperating with Taiwan at a military level is very low. Exchanges should, therefore, first start at the civilian level and gradually deepen. Eventually the Japanese government should promote the revision of the Taiwan Relations Act, leading to a situation where Japan can lend a helping hand whenever Taiwan is in trouble. Strengthening Japanese-Taiwanese relations will lead to suppressing China’s evils, and Asia shall be in peace.

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Tsai Ing-wen Administration Determined to Protect Their Country Themselves
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