Sat, Aug 25, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Academics tout lessons from 823

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Former vice president Annette Lu speaks at a news conference at the Institute for National Development in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Academics yesterday weighed in on cross-strait developments from the perspective of the 823 Artillery Bombardment, urging the nation to “invest in peace to prevent war.”

Speaking at a forum organized by former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), former Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology chairman Kung Chia-cheng (龔家政) said that on a recent visit to Kinmen, the intricately excavated military tunnels opened his eyes to the resolve and unity demonstrated not only by troops deployed on the front line on Kinmen, but by all Taiwanese, which transformed the islands into an “impenetrable” outpost that withstood about 400,000 bombs dropped by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during the Aug. 23, 1958, battle.

Kung said he wanted to ask President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) whether Taiwanese nowadays would have the backbone of those who defended the nation in the past.

China has expanded its military to the point where it is prepared to annex Taiwan by force at any time, Kung said, citing a US Department of Defense report.

A potential assault could be conducted by long-range missiles or drones in a surprise attack, much like how the PLA attacked Kinmen 60 years ago, Kung said.

In this context, the Ministry of National Defense’s strategy of “winning by preventing the enemy from taking over” has great significance, Kung said.

However, while the government has budgeted for light-rail systems and offshore wind farms as part of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, capital to build defense infrastructure in urban areas and to boost the nation’s defense capabilities is seriously lacking, he said.

The government should use Kinmen as a testing ground for peace across the Taiwan Strait, he said, citing the example of Kinmen’s Mofan Street (模範街), which has Republic of China and Chinese flags on either side.

Kinmen has a publicly elected commissioner, while the leaders in Hong Kong and Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province are appointed by Beijing, and with more exchanges, Kinmen’s autonomy could influence people in Hong Kong and Xiamen and effect change in Beijing’s way of thinking, he said.

Taiwan Strategy Research Association chairman Wong Ming-hsien (翁明賢) said that Mao Zedong (毛澤東) ordered the 1958 attack not on a whim, but based on calculations and a desire to conduct three tests: whether Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) troops were willing to defend Kinmen; whether the US would support Chiang’s troops; and whether the PLA could fight overseas.

The strong will to fight that was demonstrated by Chiang’s troops and US monitoring of the situation by sailing aircraft carriers in the Taiwan Strait secured the Republic of China’s victory, and the situation can be extrapolated to Taiwan-US-China relations today, Wong said.

Taiwan occupies a crucial strategic location in the First Island Chain of the Pacific Ocean, and the US must know what action to take if it does not want its influence to be eliminated by China, which would cause the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy to unravel, Wong said.

The US should give Taiwan a more significant role in its Indo-Pacific strategy to let the world know that the US-Taiwan partnership can greatly contribute to security in the West Pacific, he said.

Taiwan should stop fixating on the number of its diplomatic allies, but enter into alliances with like-minded nations in terms of unofficial exchanges, for example economy, he said.

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