Wed, Oct 31, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan marching toward self-reliant defense: US forum

Staff writer, with CNA, ANNAPOLIS, Maryland

Taiwan’s national defense is to be built on a dual-development system that focuses on both indigenous system development and foreign arms sales, Deputy Minister of National Defense Chang Guan-chung (張冠群) said on Monday.

“We are standing at a time when Taiwan is marching towards self-reliant defense,” Chang said in a speech addressing the opening ceremony of the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Maryland.

However, he said that the strategy would not exclude the participation of foreign suppliers.

“Our focus in pushing self-reliant defense over the past two years is the development of main systems. That being said, we still seek the participation of both domestic and foreign companies in developing sub-systems and critical modules through market mechanisms,” he said. “Our demand for cooperation with international companies never declined. Instead, it has become more diverse and provides more opportunities.”

Explaining the need for an indigenous weapons program, Chang said Taiwan has faced “painful lessons” in foreign military acquisitions because of diplomatic obstacles.

“We therefore understand one thing: that is, to forge strength for a sustainable and reliable self-reliant defense that meets our requirements is fundamental to our defense policy,” he said.

Taiwan’s military investment should avoid an arms race, but take advantage of “the unique battlefield in the Taiwan Strait” to “create weapon systems we actually need with asymmetric thinking,” he said.

In addition, Taiwan would emphasize how to integrate its defense development with its technology and industrial strengths, and bolster the use of technology to maximize the cost-effectiveness of the military investments, he added.

“To reach the goal, we will use a certain amount of our domestic acquisition budget in scientific research to elevate our technology level and human resources quality,” Chang said. “By making defense investment and national power mutually supportive, our self-reliant defense will be sustainable.”

Taiwan is looking forward to active participation by US industry in its self-reliant defense development and such participation would depend on policy support from the US government, he said.

“We welcome US industry to join us, and together make contributions for [the] peace and stability of [the] Taiwan Strait,” Chang said.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Chang was asked to comment on a prediction by US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers on Sunday that Washington would approve another round of arms sales to Taiwan by the end of the year, following a US$330 million deal last month.

Chang sidestepped the question, saying the conference was focused on cooperation between the two sides’ defense industries and did not touch on arms sales.

National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General York Chen (陳文政) said the US is Taiwan’s first choice as a partner in its defense industry development and such cooperation could enable Taiwan to enter the US’ global supply chain.

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