President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said Taiwan was unlikely to engage in an arms race with China and would instead seek a balance of military power across the Taiwan Strait through “innovative” and “asymmetric” approaches.
“The cross-strait standoff has continued for more than six decades. Although the Chinese mainland is still actively beefing up its military might, we see no need and are not likely to follow suit,” Ma said in a speech delivered at a meeting of the Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission.
“What we should do is use our soft power to reduce tensions and lead cross-strait relations to move on the track of peaceful development,” Ma said at the annual conference of commissioners.
In pursuing a cross-strait balance of military power, Ma said, his administration would focus on innovative and asymmetric strategies to build up an elite deterrent force to avert war.
“We will continue working hard to boost peaceful development and ease tensions so that a cross-strait military conflict will become increasingly less likely,” Ma told the conference.
By an asymmetric approach, Ma was apparantly referring to asymmetric warfare — where the two sides’ military power, resources and strategies differ significantly. Such an approach might not involve military action, but rather tactics of unconventional warfare in which the “weaker” side uses strategies that offset its deficiencies in military might.
In an encouraging sign, Ma said, significant progress has been made in relations with China over the past two-and-a-half years under his administration as efforts have been made to promote a cross-strait detente.
At a different setting yesterday, Ma said he welcomed the friendship toward Taiwan shown by visiting US Congressman Elton Gallegly and made another pitch to get Washington to sell Taiwan advanced F-16C/D fighter aircraft.
In a meeting with Gallegly at the Presidential Office, Ma said he was moved by the Republican representative’s visit to Taiwan so soon after winning re-election to the House of Representatives last Tuesday, seeing it as a sign of the Californian’s deep friendship and concern for the country.
Gallegly, a ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Europe of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, arrived in Taiwan on Friday for a week-long visit.
During the meeting, Ma -discussed his administration’s efforts to warm what he called “long-frozen cross-Taiwan Strait relations” and the results of the efforts.
He also spoke of the importance he attached to Taiwan-US ties. The president described bilateral links between the two countries as solid, adding that Taiwan and the US were expected to hold talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement by the end of the year for the first time since July 2007.
Ma also reiterated Taiwan’s desire to purchase F-16C/D aircraft to maintain the country’s defense capabilities and expressed the hope that Taiwan could be included in the US visa waiver program and sign an extradition agreement with Washington.
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