During a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei last week, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) said that more than 70 percent of the 726 uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) that government agencies use are made by Chinese companies, while the US and Japan have either prohibited or decommissioned China-made UAVs.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) promised that he would appoint Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) to deal with the UAV issue, adding that the Cabinet would look into the use of Chinese UAVs, and decide as soon as possible whether to ban or decommission them.
The technology has boomed in the past few years, creating drones controlled by portable computers or even smartphones that can fly nearly anywhere at any time. These advanced products exist in modern societies across the world.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is devoting a massive amount of resources to the research and development of drones. From a variety of civil drones for daily use to military UAVs capable of performing strike missions, Chinese-made products have become popular procurement objects in many countries.
Drones have diverse applications in economic development as well as in people’s daily lives. For example, apart from serving as recreational and entertainment tools, such devices can also be used for various educational, commercial and agricultural purposes — such as instruction, disaster relief, filmmaking, topographic and geomorphic research, and underground mine exploration.
However, if the software used in these drones is intentionally designed to be controlled by the CCP, they could be transformed into offensive weapons that could be used to attack other countries or as strategic weapons that could be used to steal confidential information from governments.
It is therefore surprising that more than 70 percent of the government’s drones are made by Chinese companies, and this figure is just the official number released by the Cabinet. The unreported number is likely much larger, and the figure is likely to rise as more Chinese UAVs are reported by government agencies.
Taiwan should not deal with this issue carelessly. Besides, according to media reports, the results of a study by the Telecom Technology Center show that some of the government-owned Chinese UAVs might pose an information security risk.
The issue has become a potential national security threat. The Cabinet should demand that all government agencies stop purchasing and using Chinese drones. President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration should promptly start treating the issue as a priority national security matter.
Yao Chung-yuan is a university professor and former deputy director of the Ministry of National Defense’s strategic planning department.
Translated Eddy Chang
Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr in a letter to an unnamed US senator on Feb. 9 said that China has offered to “fill every hotel room,” in Palau, “and more if more are built” if the small island nation were to break ties with Taiwan. The letter further claims that China offered US$20 million per year for the creation of a “call center” in Palau, a nation whose economy relies heavily on tourism. It is more evidence that for China, tourism is an economic tool for its political gain. Cleo Paskal, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, posted
Due to enduring the Kafkaesque situation of having two accidents in 30 minutes, one involving an accident with an ambulance, I would like to share my personal experience. Both cases show the loopholes of Taiwanese law, which is a driving factor for the terrible traffic conditions in the nation. I was driving my scooter on the main road in Taoyuan’s Yangmei District (楊梅). Despite there being no cars behind me, a young man in an old car made a sudden left turn and I bumped into his vehicle. At first, the man tried to run away, but was blocked by other
It has been a year since China relaxed the “zero COVID-19” measures that had been stifling economic activity, but the country has yet to experience the rebound that policymakers and pundits anticipated. Instead, economic indicators from last year have painted a disheartening picture. The fallout from the massive property developer Evergrande’s 2021 collapse is far from over, and the sector continues to struggle, even after the Chinese government relaxed purchasing restrictions in cities like Guangzhou and Shanghai. China’s financial health has also declined as local government debt has snowballed, leading Moody’s to downgrade the country’s credit outlook in December last year.
Beijing’s diplomatic offensive highlighted by Lin Tzu-Yao (林子堯) and Cathy Fang in a recent op-ed (“Beijing’s new diplomatic offensive,” Feb. 7, page 8) is nothing new, as were the authors’ unwarranted smears on Taiwan’s major opposition party. They peculiarly meshed together a wide array of talking points to try to put an innocent face on president-elect William Lai (賴清德), concealed behind the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) failure to manage cross-strait relations and ties with diplomatic allies. They also attempted to discredit anyone who dares to oppose the DPP’s imagination-based politics. It was most unfortunate that the authors deliberately misconstrued parts of Taiwanese