Sun, Apr 10, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Official decries defeatism

LOW MORALE The official cited a recent survey showing a bleak view of possible war with China among male university students, and urged a more robust defense

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Ministry of National Defense (MND) official said yesterday that young Taiwanese don't want to go to war with China and that many think Taiwan would be defeated in any conflict. Because of that, Taiwan should quickly strengthen its defenses and increase citizens' confidence.

"To get rid of defeatism, Taiwan should swiftly procure advanced weapons and display its ability to counter a military invasion by China," said MND vice minister Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) at a seminar on national security held yesterday by National Chengchi University's Institute of International Relations (IIR).

"The legislators should free themselves from partisan politics, and swiftly approve the three-item arms budget," he added.

Tsai was referring to the budget to purchase advanced Patriot missile batteries, diesel submarines and sub-hunting aircraft from the US, which has been blocked by the pan-blue opposition in the legislature.

Tsai said that according to a recent poll conducted by Chinese Culture University, more than 65 percent of male university students said they don't want to go to war with China.

Among those, 30.5 percent said they don't think Taiwan can survive a Chinese military invasion and 25.6 think they would be "victims" of a war.

Lee Deng-ker (李登科), Dean of the College of International Affairs at National Chengchi University, said that according to a publication Balance of Power, published by the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London in 2003, Taiwan's per capita defense spending was lower even than Europe's neutral states.

According to that publication, he said, Switzerland spent US$480 per capita in 2003, and Austria spent US$308.

Although Taiwan faces one of the most serious military threats in the world, the country spent only US$200 per capita on defense in the same year, he said.

Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), director of the IIR and a former senior advisor to the National Security Council, said "there is no free lunch regarding national defense."

He said that the US had declined to sell Taiwan submarines for at least 20 years, and it has also refused to sell Taiwan P3C sub-hunting aircraft for several years.

"Therefore the US agreement to sell these weapons to Taiwan should be seen as [part of the US'] strategic concerns in the Taiwan Strait and East Asia -- not, as some have claimed, just a deal to serve US business interests," he said.

Alexander Huang (黃介正), a former vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council and now the director of Graduate Institute of American Studies at Tamkang University, said Taiwan should not simply focus on its homeland in its defense planning.

Instead, Taiwan should take the security of the broader East Asian region into consideration.

He said that since Taiwan is located in the middle of the so-called "first island chain," -- a notional maritime defense line running south from Japan to the Philippines -- the country should play a significant role in anti-submarine defense and maintaining secure sea lanes in the region.

He said that Taiwan can strengthen its overall security by emphasizing its regional responsibility and increasing its military cooperation with Japan and the US.

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