Military budget cuts put nation at risk: DPP

SECURITY GAP::The DPP representative to the US also cited problems recruiting for a volunteer force and procuring technology, and a lack of research and development

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Sun, Oct 06, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwan’s investment in defense under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is “a very big problem” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has told US officials.

In meetings on Capitol Hill with members of the US government, analysts and academics, Wu said that defense budgets have dropped every year since 2008.

He also stressed the problems of recruiting for Taiwan’s all volunteer military and said that the issue could not be solved by the KMT government on its own.

“We want to work with the KMT in a bipartisan way to address the issue of military recruitment so there will be no gap in national security,” Wu told a Washington press conference.

Wu said that at the very time that Taiwan was encountering difficulties in procuring technology abroad, there was a lack of investment in domestic research and development.

“It could have very serious consequences for our national security,” he said.

Wu was winding up his latest trip to the US, during which he led a DPP delegation to the annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference.

He said he had talked to US officials about Taiwan’s role in the US pivot strategy to Asia and that he was “happy to report” receiving reassuring responses on the issue.

Wu said the US considered Taiwan an important part of the rebalance and that the US thought highly of Taiwan’s role.

“In order for the US to carry out the rebalance, it will need assistance from its allies and friends and friendly countries in the Asia region and Taiwan is very willing to take on this role,” DPP Department of International Affairs director Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠) said.

Wu said the DPP was determined to strengthen and deepen democracy in Taiwan and to emphasize the rule of law and constitutionalism.

The DPP also wanted to propose a more comprehensive energy policy and move more rapidly toward a nuclear-free homeland.

Wu said the DPP wanted to maintain an “important relationship” with the US and that it was vital to continue to strengthen the contact.

“Mutual trust is pretty good right now, but we are always evaluating and thinking of ways to improve it,” he said.

It was important for the DPP to interact with China and to help the Chinese people to deepen their understanding of Taiwan, Wu said.

He said the DPP was concerned that cross-strait relations were being conducted entirely by the ruling party because that resulted in a situation that was not balanced and that did not give China “a full and accurate understanding of the people of Taiwan and how they feel.”

Wu said that with major events erupting around the world — including Syria — people might have the impression the US was paying less attention to Taiwan.

“However, I feel the opposite,” he said.

The US was paying a high degree of attention to Taiwan’s security and economic development, Wu said.

“I feel reassured the US will not sacrifice or abandon Taiwan’s interests,” he said.

On Taiwan’s domestic front, Wu said that the DPP was “a little bit worried” that China may look for a way to exploit or exert some kind of influence on the current political upheaval.

“We would like to make sure Taiwanese society is not further disturbed,” he said.