Deterrence through military strength is the best hope for peace and the armed forces will show the public their raison d’etre through their unshakable determination to defend the nation, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said yesterday.
Yen made the remarks in a speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, a protracted artillery duel between Republic of China and Chinese communist forces from Aug. 23 to Sept. 22, 1958, known in Taiwan as the 823 Artillery Bombardment.
The commemoration was attended by active and retired generals, Kimen County Government functionaries and Veteran Affairs Council officials.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
Highlighting the Chinese military threat and the necessity of maintaining a military that can mount a credible deterrence, Yen said: “Security lies only in strength; if you want peace, prepare for war.”
Yen said that since he took office, the adage for officers and enlistees has been: “It is dangerous for a country at peace to forget about war.”
There can be no tolerance of sloth or negligence in the military, on which falls the great responsibility of maintaining national security, he added.
China’s military buildup poses a great threat to peace in the Asia Pacific region, Yen said, adding that he has instructed all levels of the military to adapt their structure and combat capabilities to the “strong defense, multilayered deterrence” doctrine.
The overall national defense strategy is to enhance force protection, win decisive battles in near-sea areas and annihilate enemy forces on beachheads, Yen said.
The annual Han Kuang military exercises are to remain the main testing ground to improve combined-arms skills and practical experience to build joint warfare capabilities, he said.
The ministry remains committed to indigenous aircraft, surface warships and submarine development, and to upgrading legacy weapon systems that are crucial for the armed forces’ combat power, he said.
As warfare and the nature of military service change, today’s armed forces need long-serving and high-quality talent, which is why the ministry has initiated a wide range of reforms to improve military pay and benefits, Yen said.
“Considering the latest international developments, we urge the nation to remember that peace cannot be built on the enemy’s goodwill,” he said. “The armed forces will always be true to their core value and conviction that they are the guardians of the nation and the people.”
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday released a recorded statement to mark the anniversary, saying that her administration is committed to safeguarding Taiwan and calling for unity among the public.
In a video on Facebook, Tsai expressed gratitude on behalf of the public to military personnel and troops stationed on the front line in Kinmen during the intense bombardment.
“We now live in a free, democratic and prosperous society all because of their brave sacrifices for the nation,” Tsai said in the video.
She said that during the bombardment, the world saw Taiwanese, regardless of their ethnicity, as united and fully committed to protecting their country.
“Our mission of protecting this nation and safeguarding Taiwan to preserve its free and democratic lifestyle has not changed,” Tsai said. “No matter how fierce the bombardment, we will remain as committed as 60 years ago to safeguarding our homeland.”
Tsai said that since taking office in 2016, she has implemented military reforms to secure the continued existence of the Republic of China and protect the welfare of the public.
“So it is our consensus to fully support the military, and we should serve as their backup,” she said.
Tsai said that the government would do its utmost to maintain amicable relations with China, but would not give in to pressure or take national security for granted.
“As we look back, we must remember that unity is the cornerstone of peace across the Strait,” she said. “What we should be passing on to younger generations is the spirit of the response to the 823 Artillery Bombardment.”
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