For two years and five months, pan-blue legislators have been obstructing the arms procurement budget which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government proposed in the legislature in June 2000, even denying the legislature the opportunity to review it. Meanwhile, China's military spending has seen annual double-digit growth. It has purchased advanced weapons from Russia and the number of missiles it has targeted at Taiwan now exceeds 800.
Aware of the growing cross-strait military imbalance, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Stephen Young made an unusual public statement calling on the legislature to pass the US-proposed arms sales in this legislative session. Young stressed that Taiwan must continue to strengthen its defense capabilities and should not continue to allow its security to be held hostage by partisan political conflict.
Is it true that the arms procurement budget has been stalled so long in the legislature mainly because of partisan conflict? Young was in fact showing restraint because he had to conform to diplomatic protocol. After two years and five months in which the pan-blue camp blocked the bill 63 times, the US has gradually formed a clear picture of the selfish motives and ambitions behind the pan-blues' "impressive" reasons for opposing the arms bill. Just as an AIT official who requested anonymity recently said, certain legislators have obstructed the arms procurement budget simply because that would put them in good stead with China. There are basically two reasons why the pan-blues are so hell-bent on opposing the arms procurement bill: they want eventual unification with China and they want to perpetuate their cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They're just afraid to come out and say so.
In their eagerness to berate Young for his statement, however, the pan-blues have inadvertently revealed the ugly truth about their two secret ambitions. In addition to verbally abusing Young for interfering with Taiwan's domestic affairs, calling for him to be deported and calling him an arms dealer, the pan-blue camp has also demanded that normalized cross-strait direct transportation links should be offered in exchange for legislative approval of the arms bill. It is quite incomprehensible why the pan-blue camp would attempt to forcefully tie the issue of cross-strait direct transportation to the approval of the arms procurement budget, since these are entirely unrelated issues.
In fact, normalizing cross-strait direct transportation links is the most important link in China's strategy to promote cross-strait unification through economic incentives. By making Taiwan economically dependent on it, China will be able to capitalize on the advantage offered by its much greater size to drain Taiwan of capital and talent, and thus gradually achieve unification. This is also the unification tactic that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and CCP have strived for.
KMT and People First Party legislators have recently also tried to amend the Statute Governing the Relations Between the People of the Taiwan and the Mainland Area (
This only goes to show how important the normalization of such links are to Beijing's plans to annex Taiwan and Penghu: Not only is it more important than stopping arms sales to Taiwan, it is also second to no other goal.
Any regular state would strengthen its national defenses to deter an enemy invasion and maintain national security. This is the most fundamental condition for protecting the lives of its people. If such a country's arms procurement budget is blocked for whatever reason, it is bound to incur public skepticism. Therefore, the pan-blues are now beginning to realize that if they continue to stall the arms budget, it will reveal their pro-China stance and may cause them to lose public support and maybe even affect voter support. Through their opposition over the past two years, they have come halfway in their attempts to increase the military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait, so rather than continuing their obstruction, they will stop rubbing people up the wrong way and compromise with the US by presenting US businesses in Taiwan with a great gift, thus killing two birds with one stone. This is the reason why the pan-blue camp's new strategic goal is to exchange the arms procurement bill for direct cross-strait links.
Direct cross-strait flights are intended to promote cross-strait unification while opposition to the arms purchase is intended to weaken military capability, and both moves are aimed at bringing about eventual unification with China. It is to be hoped that the DPP government is aware of these disadvantages and sees through this plot so that it it can explain to the public that cross-strait direct transportation links have a negative impact on the sustainable development of Taiwan's economy, and that it will not believe in the myth that improving the cross-strait relationship will revive the local economy.
The government must resolutely reject the unreasonable blackmail attempt of attaching the cross-strait links to the arms procurement bill. This is the only way to sustain the positive economic developments that have taken place over the past few months. The controversy over President Chen Shui-bian's (
Translated by Daniel Cheng
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