“Those whom heaven wishes to destroy, it first makes mad,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said on Wednesday, responding to Legislative Speaker You Si-kun’s (游錫堃) earlier comment that the Taiwan-developed Cloud Peak cruise missile, with a range of 2,000km, could reach Beijing.
The US Center for Strategic and International Studies in July last year revealed on its Web site that the missile had a general range of 1,200km, with an extended range of up to 2,000km. Taipei is about 1,700km from Beijing, so You seemed correct in his estimation of its reach.
Now that we know Taipei has the ability to make a decisive strike on the Chinese capital, what should be the next step?
As the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th National Congress approaches, Beijing has begun ramping up its campaign of pressure and intimidation against Taiwan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Monday last week signed the “Outline of Military Operations Other Than War for the Army” (軍隊非戰爭軍事行動綱要), laying out a legal basis for mobilizing armed forces for nonmilitary actions, and on Wednesday he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressing willingness to provide support in matters pertaining to core interests such as sovereignty and national security.
This was just one example of China’s many veiled threats to Taiwan’s sovereignty, and there is no guarantee that the Cloud Peak would never be used.
With great power comes great responsibility. As Taiwan upgrades its self-defense capabilities, it must also prepare to avoid errors of judgement in military matters.
Taipei should propose to the Chinese government the establishment of a military hotline, similar to the one set up between North and South Korea, to ensure that if any emergencies or special circumstances arise, military communications could take place. This would be superior to the Track II dialogue between nonofficial entities that the two sides are relying on.
Now that Taiwan has revealed its possession of Cloud Peak missiles and the consequences they could bring about, creating such a communication mechanism is a geopolitical responsibility.
Shih Ya-hsuan is an associate professor in National Kaohsiung Normal University’s Department of Geography.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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