Sun, Oct 09, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan urged to show military resolve

BIGGER AND SMARTER:Taiwan needs to foster interoperability with US and Japanese forces and utilize new technologies to challenge Chinese dominance, a US academic said

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Vanderbilt University Center for US-Japan Studies and Cooperation director James Auer attends a symposium on territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Asian-Pacific peace and security in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Vanderbilt University Center for US-Japan Studies and Cooperation director James Auer yesterday said that if “the credibility of using Taiwanese, Japanese and American resolve when challenged by China is not clearly demonstrated, Beijing may get overconfident and attempt to achieve its hegemonic goals militarily.”

At a symposium hosted in Taipei by the Taiwan National Security Institute to discuss the South China Sea dispute and Asian-Pacific peace and security, Auer said the seamless navy-to-navy cooperation between the US and Japan during the Cold War resulted in a victory in the Pacific by deterrence.

“The victory was made possible because, despite the huge numbers of Soviet submarines, the US and Japanese navies maintained control of the seas of the western Pacific,” he added.

“The post-Cold War question for Tokyo and Washington is, in my opinion, whether the Japanese and US navies can similarly deter China from aggressive acts of war as they did vis-a-vis the Soviet Pacific Fleet in the 1980s; a related question is: How can Taiwan most meaningfully and most cost effectively provide for its self-defense?” Auer said.

He said that despite China’s ambitions to restore a China-centric tributary system, if Taiwan, the US and Japan are “determined enough, geography and Chinese behavior argue against Chinese hegemony given the proximity of Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia and India,” as all these nations are concerned over China’s aggressive moves and claims.

He said that while China is now able to operate in the East and South China seas and beyond for trade, its geography actually limits its capabilities with the first and second island chains (the first chain is mainly composed of the Kuril Islands, the Japanese archipelago, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the northern Philippines and Borneo and from the Kamchatka Peninsula to the Malay Peninsula, and the second island chain refers to the Ogasawara Islands, Japan’s Volcano Islands and the Mariana Islands, which is US territory) in place, unless major Pacific powers “needlessly allow China to violate international law by taking control of Taiwan” and other territories controversially claimed by China and “by limiting or prohibiting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.”

If the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US Navy demonstrate capability, for example “in the case of Chinese initiation of the use of military force against Taiwan, to deny China’s use of the sea inside the first island chain, to defend the sea and air space of the first island chain and to dominate the sea and maritime areas outside the chain, their ability to do so would be a meaningful deterrent to Chinese illegal aggression,” Auer said.

Taiwan should bolster its self-defense, he said.

While Taiwan cannot match China’s military expenditure, it has to “think bigger and act smarter” by “fostering interoperability with American and Japanese defense forces” and “utilizing relatively cheap new high technology to challenge Chinese tactical dominance,” which, he said could be in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, nanoenergetics and their convergence as, suggested by US National Defense University research fellow Thomas Hammes.

Auer said a US-led Pacific strategy is “urgently needed” and hoped for by China’s neighbors, but “unfortunately, in my opinion, [it] is currently lacking, owing to a lack of leadership.”

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