Taiwan is developing “asymmetrical strategies” utilizing unconventional capabilities to counter China’s military buildup, Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) said at a conference in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday.
In a keynote speech at this year’s US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, Yang addressed an emerging China’s impact on Asia-Pacific security, Taiwan’s response and the objectives Taiwan and the US could work on together to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
He described Taiwan’s asymmetrical mindset as one of “David against Goliath” to deal with the growing military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait.
“In combination with innovative weapons and defensive countermeasure weapons, Taiwan integrates conventional and unconventional warfare flexibility to create cost-efficient, highly efficient and attainable ‘asymmetric/innovative’ powers,” Yang said.
That way, Taiwan can maximize its advantages to hit the most vulnerable parts of the enemy, sabotage the enemy’s operations and gain mobility, he said.
“This is exactly how size does not matter,” he said.
Yang also stressed that Taiwan cannot produce weapons indigenously for technological or cost reasons and has to buy them from other countries.
“Everything we want to buy is defensive because we need to replace our outdated weapons with new ones, instead of engaging in an arms race,” Yang said.
On reports that the US has decided to offer Taiwan an upgrade to its F-16A/B fleet, but not the more advanced F-16C/D aircraft that Taipei had hoped to acquire, Yang reaffirmed that Taiwan needs the more advanced fighters to replace the air force’s aging F-5E/Fs.
The advanced jet fighters and diesel-electric submarines that Taiwan has also requested both have a direct impact on peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Yang said.
He also pledged that Taiwan would never provoke hostilities or launch a first strike, but said that it needed to protect itself and take countermeasures if it came under attack.
Taiwan had to have the ability to survive a first strike, to counter decapitation strikes, initiate mobile counterstrikes and survive prolonged operations, he said.
If an enemy initiated an attack, Taiwan would have to draw on its advantages by employing its defensive countermeasure capabilities to hit key military targets and amphibious troops assembling at ports, he said.
As a battle progressed, Taiwan would place more emphasis on joint interdiction and joint anchorage attacks to stop the enemy from traveling across the Taiwan Strait and delay their arrival in Taiwan, he said.
Also speaking at the conference, Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), a former representative to the US under the previous Democratic Progressive Party administration, said if the US rejected the sale of F-16C/Ds because of pressure from China, it would be even harder for it to sell more sensitive weapons to Taiwan.
Wu, who said the US had been lukewarm to selling new fighters to Taiwan in the past, said it was not a good thing for the F-16C/Ds to become the focus of the international community, because Taiwan’s needs for equipment related to naval and joint warfare operations could be affected.
He said if the US felt caught between Chinese pressure and its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, it could provide technological assistance to help Taiwan produce defensive weapons, such as smaller submarines, and build a self-sufficient defense industry.