A former reporter at Jane’s Defence Weekly early last month wrote on an online news platform that Taiwan in 2002 submitted a letter of intent to the US asking for the procurement of 100 F-35B jets. Regrettably, Washington apparently refuses to sell them 20 years later.
Similarly, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) in a legislative session in March asked Deputy Minister of National Defense Bo Hong-hui (柏鴻輝) about the progress of a AGM-158 long-range land-attack missile procurement from the US, but did not receive positive news.
Leakage of confidential information has seriously affected the relationship between the Taiwanese and the US militaries, and the Taiwanese public is well aware that this might be the reason for the delays.
Local media earlier this month reported that China’s Xiamen University and Xidian University had offered respective chair professor positions to former Yuan Ze University presidents Lin Chih-min (林志民), who was involved in the development of the Hsiung Feng-II missile at the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, and Lee Ching-ting (李清庭), an expert in gallium nitride semiconductors.
Apart from teaching at Xiamen University, Lin also gave lectures at Xiamen University of Technology and Shandong University of Science and Technology on cerebellar model articulation controller technology, which is applied in the automatic landing of remote-controlled aircraft and the interception of missiles.
As for Lee, his research at the Chungshan Institute laid the foundation for the automatic electronically scanned array radar in the navy’s next-generation guided missile frigate project, known as the Cheng Hai project.
Lee’s involvement is similar to that of National Central University professor Chen Kun-shan (陳錕山), one of Asia’s leading experts in remote-sensing technology. Chen was in 2014 recruited by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and in 2016 published a paper titled “Quantitative Analysis of Shoreline Changes in Western Taiwan Coast Using Time-Series SAR Images.”
If the Chinese military were to develop SAR, or synthetic aperture radar, technology, it could obtain intelligence for an amphibious landing without having to send spy ships near the coast of Taiwan proper.
China in 2015 doubled down on its efforts to reform its military, seeking parity with the US. Formulating its “two superpowers, multiple powers” strategy, it took a cue from the US’ “revolution in military affairs” hypothesis. Its purpose is to replace the US as the world’s pre-eminent power by replicating its strategies, as portrayed in the 2019 action thriller Gemini Man.
Last year, I proposed a theory inspired by that movie in an Italian journal, describing how China’s next-generation J-35 fighter jet has a similar weapons layout and aerodynamic concept as the US’ F-35 stealth fighter.
The military competition between the US and China is growing. If Taiwan cannot leave behind its image as being prone to information leakage, it would become even more difficult to procure advanced US weaponry.
The US journal Defense News last week reported that the Czech Republic is to begin negotiations with the US about the potential procurement of F-35s. This shows that Taiwan’s inability to purchase F-35Bs is due to its poor protection of military secrets, rather than the low production volume of that jet.
As for renowned Taiwanese academics at the Chungshan Institute with high international visibility, are they really hard-hearted enough to devote themselves to an enemy that bullies Taiwan with military threats?
Lu Li-shih is a former instructor at the Republic of China Naval Academy and a former captain of the ROCS Hsin Chiang.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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