The People’s Republic of China (PRC) celebrations of its 60th anniversary on Thursday will very much be a military affair. In fact, Beijing has been boasting that the nation’s newest nuclear missiles will be part of an arsenal of new weapons — 90 percent of which have never been paraded before.
Fifty-two types of weapons — all developed and made in China — will be on display during the parade, General Gao Jianguo (高建國), executive deputy director of the office of the National Day Military Parade Joint Command, has said.
The state-run People’s Daily newspaper, however, quoted Gao as saying that this unprecedented display of military might is not about intimidating China’s neighbors, but rather a celebration of the country’s achievements, adding that “a country’s military ability is not a threat to anyone, what is important is its military policy.”
This assertion, however, brings little comfort to those against whom such weapons would be used — mainly the people of Taiwan and US military personnel who would likely intervene on Taiwan’s side in the event of war.
Furthermore, while Gao is not altogether wrong in saying that military ability does not necessarily equate military policy, history is rife with examples of military policy being driven by a state’s military capacity — in other words, weapons designs drive policy rather than the other way around.
This is doubly worrying when, as a growing number of academics have pointed out, the “patience” of Chinese leaders regarding the Taiwan issue is, we are told, not infinite. While Chinese leaders were making similar pronouncements more than 10 years ago, “impatience” did not immediately entail that it would translate into military action. For one thing, a decade ago the balance on military power in the Taiwan Strait was still in Taiwan’s favor and China had yet to develop, or at least deploy, weapons meant to delay or deny the entry of US forces in the Strait.
The situation today is drastically different. Not only has the balance of power shifted in Beijing’s favor, but China has become far more assertive and, thanks to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) pro-China policies, its leadership feels that its objective of unifying Taiwan and China may finally be within its grasp. Should domestic politics in Taiwan between now and 2012 threaten to derail moves toward that goal, and if the US continues to suffer from a weakened economy and a number of taxing military deployments, Beijing may have little compunction in using its growing arsenal to achieve its aims.
This year’s parade will also see a greater representation from all branches of the military, with many items having an offensive, rather than defensive, purpose. Generals in Beijing can say what they want, but the fact of the matter is, huge displays of offensive military equipment signal to the rest of the world, and more specifically the region, that China has the means to flex its muscles when necessary. Of the two key factors in a state’s decision to use force — intent and capabilities — Beijing is now showing that is has the latter. The main question now is whether Beijing will, over time, develop the intent.
While there are many ways for a nation to display its achievements, focus on the industrial-military nexus on national days, added to a strong sense of nationalism, has undertones of fascism. History shows us that fascism usually entails an intent to use force as an extension of government policies.
As a recipient of Taiwan’s Medigen COVID-19 vaccine, I am unable to return to my homeland, Canada. More precisely, Canada would allow me to return as a technically unvaccinated citizen, subject to quarantine and the expense that entails, but I am forbidden from exiting Canada through an airport, even when I have met the vaccination requirements of my destination country. That means any visit to Canada must become a permanent one. Stepping on Canadian soil carries the consequence of renouncing my life in Taiwan — my job, my home and my friends. The idea of not being allowed to leave your country for
Far from signaling the end, a grim new consensus between Taipei and Washington must now spur a new beginning that ensures Taiwan’s survival. Military leaders in Taipei and Washington now agree there is a growing chance that by the middle of this decade the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership may decide to use its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to attack, or even invade, Taiwan. On October 6, 2021, Taiwan Minister for National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) told members of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, “By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will
Ever since former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was recalled last year, “Han fans,” as well as the KMT hierarchy, have made pro-Taiwan lawmakers their enemy No. 1, and Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) has been on top of that list (“Recall part of ‘generational war’: expert,” Oct. 19, page 3). Chen has always been one of Han’s harshest critics, and Han fans have vowed revenge. Former legislators Yen Kuan-hen (顏寬恆) and Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), being such sore losers, were not amused about losing to Chen democratically and have amassed significant resources backed by
The relationship between the US and China promises to do much to define this era, and what could determine this relationship might well be whether the two countries are able to continue to avoid armed conflict over Taiwan. However, with signs that the chances of conflict are growing, the question facing the US and its partners is how to avoid that outcome without sacrificing essential interests. Conceptual framing is always critical to foreign policy. This is no exception. There are problems and there are situations. Problems can in principle be solved. Situations can at best be managed. Taiwan is a situation. Attempts