Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (
Opinion surveys show that over 70 percent of people in this country support the military's procurement plan. That the pan-blue camp is ignoring the wishes of the people in pursuing its boycott of the bill is intolerable.
If the pan-blue camp objects to specific items in the bill, it can propose deleting those items. If it object to the price, it can request an adjustment. To obstruct the bill as a whole is simply to jeopardize the safety of the nation for political reasons. This is unreasonable and unacceptable behavior for the legislature of a democratic nation.
If the obstruction was simply to curry favor with China, then it should be possible to return to the debate over arms procurement now that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (
The political parties may well have different opinions on the unification-independence question and other cross-strait issues. But the arms-procurement bill transcends this debate. The pan-blue parties believe that negotiations are the best way to secure peace and stability. However, if Taiwan is left without the means to defend itself, it will have nothing to bargain with. For this reason, these military purchases are essential. They are a precondition to cross-strait negotiations.
If the two sides of the Taiwan Strait cannot enter into negotiations in the short term, and the "cold peace" continues to drag out, military preparedness is even more important. Both the US military and the Ministry of National Defense are concerned that if the procurement bill is not passed, there will be a severe imbalance in military strength before 2008. This is especially the case now that Beijing has passed its "Anti-Secession" Law to legitimize the use of force against this country.
China might at any time seek to use "non-peaceful means" to resolve the cross-strait issue, and any imbalance in naval strength is only likely to encourage Beijing to take this option. If the procurement bill does not pass, it is likely that this nation will find itself unable even to maintain the status quo in the Strait.
With just about a week left in the current session of the legislature, the procurement bill should be given priority. Lee has said that if the legislature is willing to debate the issue, the procurement budget could be cut to just NT$300 billion (US$9.53 billion) or NT$350 billion. And even if other budgetary requirements need to be postponed, arms procurement should be given priority. As far as national security is concerned, the price of the arms is not important. Rather, it is a question of value.