Sun, Oct 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Naval expert calls for stronger forces

NAVY BLUES:A retired high-ranking military man has said Taiwan should not join up with China on maritime disputes, adding that the country currently lacks firepower

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

A retired vice admiral yesterday called for the country’s naval capabilities to be beefed up and enhanced in order to strengthen the strategic value of the country, while also warning against the possibility of Taiwan teaming up with China in handling issues related to disputed areas which lie within the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Lan Ning-li (蘭寧利), a retired navy vice admiral and a researcher at the National Policy Foundation — the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) think tank — yesterday offered his views on the nation’s ocean policy at the launch of a new book.

In view of China’s increased level of assertiveness in the region, which occurred against the backdrop of US plans to bolster its military presence in the Asia- Pacific region, Taiwan must utilize its geological location to its best advantage to contribute more to regional peace, he said in his paper.

Taiwan would be of no importance, and would be looked down upon by both the US and Japan, if its military capabilities remain confined to the boundaries of Taiwan itself, he said.

Alfred Hu (胡念祖), director of the Center for Marine Policy Studies at National Sun Yat-sen University, presented the paper at the forum on behalf of Lan, who was not present.

Lan suggested a thorough review of the country’s coast guard systems and a significant increase in its naval capabilities.

There is simply no comparison between Taiwan and Japan because Taiwan has very few large patrol vessels — especially patrol vessels which can act as platforms for ship-borne helicopters — and has no fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, he said.

In its handling of the dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) as well as the contested areas of the South China Sea, Taiwan has to refrain from teaming up with China or engaging in any actions which would leave the impression that Taiwan is willing to join hands with China in resolving the issue, he said.

Lan said that if Taiwan sided with China against Japan over disputed territory in the East China Sea, the US would be reluctant to support Taiwan, and could then back down over the course of time on its commitment to provide Taiwan with advanced weapons systems.

At the discussion, Tan Chih-lung (淡志隆), a retired navy official, suggested that Taiwan start talks with China on the possibility of jointly exploring resources in the regions which are in line with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) peace initiative as long as they do not touch on political initiatives, he said.

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