Now matter how one looks at it, diplomacy -- the course Taipei has chosen to adopt, despite the arduousness and slowness of it -- is the most reasonable option to advance state interests. Sad to say, however, regardless of whether one is in favor of militarization of the Taiwan Strait or against it, Taiwan must, in the face of potential aggression by China, stand on guard.
But as it builds its defenses, the country must juggle defensive and countervailing measures. In other words, it is one thing to reinforce command-and-control nodes and have alternative airstrips and missile defense systems, but in order to be truly effective, the state must also possess a deterrent force, one that compels the enemy (assuming its decisionmakers are acting rationally) to calculate the costs and benefits of launching an attack.
However pessimistic this may sound, people who argue that Taiwan should only purchase and develop defensive weapons have, at best, a tenuous grasp of how military decisions are made.
Hence, the sporadic rumors that Taiwan is developing missiles capable of reaching major Chinese cities or, more recently, the ado over the possibility that Taiwan would deploy surface-to-surface missiles on Kinmen and Matsu.
Whether such a deployment will become reality or not (and the maintenance of a little secrecy on the matter wouldn't necessarily hurt), the very existence of a possibility is enough to play into Beijing's calculations should the moment come when it feels compelled to launch an attack against Taiwan.
But Taipei's juggling act involves a third ball, one that it must keep airborne with great caution. A state's ultimate defense lies not in the quantifiable -- eg, the number of aircraft, subs and missile defense systems it owns -- but rather in its capacity to avert armed conflict in the first place. So, putting diplomacy aside and focusing on the purely military, Taiwan's military build-up must be accompanied by the necessary mechanisms mitigating the risk that war will come not out of will, but through error.
As we have seen, defenses alone are insufficient, and a state facing a threat of invasion must also have a deterrent. However, as countervailing forces imply offensive weapons, the risk that human or technical error will result in an accidental launch and spark a conflict increases exponentially as the arsenal grows. The greater the number of weapons, the higher the complexity.
We can all be grateful that Taiwan isn't a warlike country and that in the Strait, only one half of the equation has adopted an aggressive stance. The risk to us all would be all the greater if both were rattling their sabers, or much more threatening if Taipei had chosen to go down the nuclear path.
In the end, it all boils down to keeping everything in balance: Building forces while managing to avoid an arms race that, by virtue of its disproportionate opponent, Taiwan cannot hope to win. It means reducing the risks of error by establishing better communication and greater transparency with the opponent without, on the other hand, revealing one's every position.
All that being said, the value of deploying missiles on Kinmen and Matsu, among other options, is open to debate, as is the veil of mystery that surrounds that possibility. But no matter what it does, every offensive capability Taiwan acquires comes with a responsibility to ensure that it doesn't create more danger than it prevents.
A little secrecy can't hurt, but too much of it and we're all left in the dark, bound to react in alarm at every whisper.
I think it is fair to say there is a widespread sigh of relief among many Americans — particularly those of us focused on foreign policy — that the chaotic and unpredictable Trump years will soon be over. Mr. Trump brought little real knowledge or experience to his foreign policy, and it showed. He also — in my humble opinion — did not err on the side of expertise in his choice of top foreign policy officials. Nor was he particularly open to listening to advice. All in all a poor set of traits for overseeing the complex foreign policy
After more than eight years of talks, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on Nov. 15, combining the individual free-trade agreements signed between ASEAN member states on the one hand, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand on the other. Under the leadership of ASEAN and China, most observers did not expect the RCEP to provide a high degree of openness, and the announced agreement lives up to these expectations, containing few surprises. All products covered by the RCEP tariff reductions are agricultural and industrial products, but reductions of agricultural product tariffs are very limited, for example covering
While the nation grapples with its falling birthrate, it is also imperative to address how parents are raising their children. The phenomenon of “dinosaur parents” — who lash out at teachers, store staff or people on the street when confronted about their children misbehaving — has been an issue for a while, but there seems to be an uncomfortably high number of incidents making the news lately. On Saturday, a preschool teacher on an online forum wrote about a mother who often visited the school and screamed at the staff for various reasons — including her child being late to school
On Nov. 14, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) commented on the nation’s low birthrate, claiming that young people would surely have children if only they married first, and that the low marriage rate among young people is the cause of the rapid aging of Taiwan’s society. The Taipei City Government therefore proposed to offer subsidies to couples willing to marry. Ko’s comment stirred up a great deal of protest. As a sociology student, I would like to remind the mayor that his remarks not only decontextualized the population aging issue, but also oversimplified the low birthrate problem. First, a look at systemic