Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials held a series of meetings this week in Washington to discuss national security issues with US academics, politicians and members of US President Barack Obama’s administration.
For reasons of political sensitivity and protocol, they were unable to give details of the discussions or even identify the individuals involved.
DPP Representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said the meetings were “useful and productive” and helped to inform the party on defense issues.
He revealed that in some meetings, the delegation was told that Taiwan needed to improve its land-based air defense capabilities and give greater consideration to underwater mines as a cost-effective way of defending the nation.
Remote, unmanned watercraft were also discussed.
“The US side was very impressed and happy to see the DPP taking defense policies so seriously and putting so much effort into them,” Wu said.
Wu and DPP Department of International Affairs Director Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠) have also been to New York and are to visit Los Angeles and Houston later this month.
This summer, Wu plans to visit Taiwanese communities in Canada.
Earlier this week, the DPP released the fifth in a series of defense policy blue papers on the military threat posed by China and it was this latest paper that formed the focus of the meetings.
Wu told a press conference that the meetings had been particularly significant at a time when President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approach to defense was “increasingly weak.”
The DPP delegation was asked about a paper published last month by the prominent University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer entitled Goodbye to Taiwan.
The paper — reported last month in the Taipei Times — argues that it may be just a matter of time before China takes over Taiwan.
Liu said the bottom line was that Taiwan could not depend on any outside assistance.
He said the way that the Ma government was approaching cross-strait policies and its pursuit of a “historical breakthrough” could lead to actions that undermine the nation’s long-term defense.
“The result of that situation is that the US may not say goodbye to Taiwan, but Taiwan may say goodbye to the US,” Liu said.
He said that Ma’s budget decisions had made it very difficult for him to convince the US that the president was serious about national defense.
Wu said that by demonstrating the DPP’s commitment to national security and defense, the delegation was able to help raise the US’ confidence “in the context of this defeatism.”
He said that feedback on the DPP blue paper had been very positive.
“Even though we are in opposition, we have been shown there is plenty of room and space for us to engage on these issues,” Wu said.
He said that Taiwan needed diesel submarines, and with the US no longer making those vessels, Taipei may have to produce them indigenously.
“The consensus is that Taiwan has the capability to produce submarine hulls,” Wu said. “It is doable.”
Wu said that several US experts agreed with the DPP delegation that it would be less sensitive “and therefore more plausible” for Washington to sell Taiwan submarine components — for example navigation or weapons systems — than it would be for Washington to sell a major weapons platform.