Academics and lawmakers urged the incoming government of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to prepare the nation against cyberwarfare, as well as bolster the nation’s sea and air capabilities, following a Ministry of National Defense report released in September last year that showed China would complete building its capability to wage an all-out war against Taiwan by 2020.
The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) New Frontier Foundation also released national defense blue papers in 2014 and last year, which showed that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) might have the capability to wage and win a massive war against Taiwan by 2020.
Ming Chuan University assistant professor of international affairs and diplomacy Lin Ying-yu (林穎佑) said that if war breaks out between Taiwan and China, the PLA might try to block Taiwan’s defense efforts through electronic, cyberwarfare and missile assaults, and that when Taiwan faces missile attacks, the key factor in its defense would be whether it has a sustainable air force.
Lin said submarines could stop the Chinese navy, and therefore should be a priority as Taiwan develops its defense capabilities.
He said that although cyberwarfare might not be the key to winning, it would be an important factor in defense planning.
He said that Taiwan has an advantage over China in cyberwarfare and Internet security, and there are many talented people who can be easily recruited by the military, so the government should invest more resources in this area.
Developing the nation’s national defense industry will not only drive the development of related industries, but also maintain Taiwan’s defense capability, as well as gain more bargaining chips for purchasing more advanced weapons from other countries, Lin said.
For instance, it was after Taiwan successfully developed its own Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jets that the US agreed to sell F-16s to Taipei, Lin said.
DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), a member of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, said that besides looking at military capacities in Taiwan and China, Tsai’s government should also take into consideration the military presence of Taiwan’s allies, such as the US and Japan, which are also key factors that China would consider when deciding whether to attack Taiwan.
Lo said that an important objective in Taiwan’s future military development would be “intimidation,” so building submarines, fighter jets and missiles that could reach China should be priorities.
Lo said that even if Taiwan could build its own submarines, the nation should come up with strategies to deal with the window period.
He suggested upgrades to the capabilities of existing fighter jets, and cooperating with other nations on building submarines to shorten the window period.
Another member of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), said that Tsai’s government should also pay attention to the source and quality of military recruits.
Chiang said that Japan has a population of more than 100 million, but has only 210,000 troops, therefore the government should think whether the nation needs a military force of 215,000 given a population of only 23 million.
After rethinking the number of troops that the nation needs, the government can think about how to build up a professional and quality troop, Chiang said.