Wed, May 29, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Meet expectations to create synergy

By Bill Sharp

As China seeks to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region at the US’ expense, the US seeks to solidify its position in the region by ramping up its Indo-Pacific strategy. As such, Taiwan’s geostrategic position takes on new importance. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) controlling Taiwan would offer China enhanced influence in the first island chain, a seaway to the second island chain and ultimately a gateway to the Western Pacific.

It has been clear since the time that US Admiral Timothy Keating served as the Pacific Commander from 2007 to 2009 that China wishes to extend PLAN influence up to just short of Hawaii.

To stem such possibilities, US President Donald Trump’s administration authored the National Security Strategy of 2017 pointing out the importance of Taiwan to the US.

The US Congress passed and the US president signed the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows higher-level officials and military officers from both the US and Taiwan to travel to each country to meet, and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, which promotes US diplomatic, security and economic interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

Read twice and referred to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act of 2018, which seeks authorization of punitive measures to be taken against countries that break diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The act will need to be reintroduced in the current US Congress, as it could not be passed before the end of the 115th Congress.

In addition, the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2019 passed the US House of Representatives and was sent to the US Senate, where it was read twice and referred to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The act directs the US Department of State to review the guidance governing US-Taiwan relations and to direct corrective action.

It further states that Taiwan is an important part of the US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region and directs the US to transfer more defense articles to Taiwan to help build its self-defense.

Because of increased Chinese bullying, Taiwan wishes to play a greater strategic role in the Indo-Pacific by having a closer relationship with the US. Taiwan sees these as greater insurance against a Chinese invasion and more assurance that the US will act in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.

The US expects Taiwan to maintain a non-nuclear armed defense force with combat-ready army, naval, air and marine forces that can smoothly carry out joint operations.

The US is deeply concerned that Taiwan maintain sufficient personnel levels and work out the problems in its difficult transition to an all-volunteer force. The US also sees a need for increased Taiwan non-commissioned officer professionalism.

US and Taiwan military officers alike admit that the Taiwanese reserve force of 2.8 million is insufficiently equipped and armed.

In a recent speech at the Global Taiwan Institute, American Institute in Taiwan Chairperson James Moriarty emphasized Taiwan’s need for greater reserve readiness. Training of all but a few reserve units is inadequate.

A well-prepared reserve force could be a decisive factor in holding off Chinese advances until US forces arrive, making it easier for both Taiwan and the US to defend the nation.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has vowed to meet a long-time US expectation by increasing the defense budget to 3 percent of GDP.

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