Military experts from the US, Japan, and Taiwan yesterday stressed the necessity for the three countries to work together to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait at a symposium hosted by the World Taiwanese Congress (WTC) in Taipei.
The WTC, an organization made up of overseas pro-independence Taiwanese from around the world, is currently holding its fifth annual conference in Taipei. The group plans to attend a rally today staged by the Hand-in-Hand Taiwan Alliance, to join the call for legislators to pass the long-stalled US arms procurement budget.
Kaneda Hideaki, who once served in Japan's maritime self-defense force, said at the symposium that China has been more aggressive in projecting its power abroad.
"China has been using its economic growth to expand its military capability," he said. "Starting with threatening Taiwan, China's ultimate goal is the whole world. The democratic countries in the Asia-Pacific region should therefore work together to counter China."
Vice Minister of the National Defense Ministry Michael Tsai (
"The modernization and expansion of China's military force has been beyond expectations," Tsai said. "Its annual military budget of US$30 billion is three times higher than that of Taiwan, not to mention the under-the-table budget, which is about three times [that amount]."
Tsai said that the ministry has been mulling the establishment of a military buffer zone between the two sides of the Strait, signing a code of military conduct with China and pursuing confidence-building mechanisms, all of which would require cooperation with the US and Japan.
Vice President Annette Lu (
"The illustration of China's military capability and its deployment in the US Pentagon report released in August indicated that Taiwan is facing an unprecedented crisis," Lu said.
The arms-procurement package was first brought up by the former ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Lu said, noting that the reason why the KMT has changed its position on buying arms now is that it has lost the will to protect Taiwan after it lost power.
Gary Schmitt, the executive director of the Project for the New American Century, said that often in newly democratized countries it takes time for the new ruling party to learn how to govern and for the party losing power to learn how to appropriately monitor the government.
The stalemate over the arms-procurement budget package might therefore stem from Taiwanese parties' struggle to adjust to their new roles, Schmitt said. However, he noted that the parties should hurry their pace since Taiwan is facing a growing military threat from China.
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