MeiZhongTai

Monday, October 31, 2005

JMSDF Admiral: PLAN Not Yet a Threat

Retired Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Admiral Sumihiko Kawamura, a career naval aviator and founder of the Kawamura Institute, has long lobbied for a Japanese defense guarantee for Taiwan (an aim which was achieved to a degree in February of this year).

ADM Kawamura was recently interviewed by Taipei Times about the PLA Navy.

Kawamura stated:
I see PLAN's capability as still being limited or weak in terms of the four major missions of a navy -- strategic deterrence, projection of power, sea control and sea-lane security.

He evaluated the PLAN's ability to conduct war against Taiwan as follows:
[I]f China invaded Taiwan, PLAN would not be able to sustain logistic support from China because it cannot control the waters between Taiwan and China. Finally, China also has a limited capability to conduct a blockade of sea lanes.

He concluded by discouraging Taiwan from buying the eight diesel submarines they have been offered by the United States--a position Michael Turton and Sun Bin would certainly appreciate. Go give it a read.


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Kidds Depart America for Taiwan

Two Kidd-class destroyers have departed the United States heading for Taiwan. Senior Navy officers report that the ships are on a war footing.

This is not a crisis, but rather a hand-over of the destroyers, which have been renamed the Keelung and Suao for service in the ROC Navy. The war footing is intended to train the Taiwanese crews in the use of their new vessel during the long journey from South Carolina.

The Taiwanese crews are wearing civilian clothes and flying an American flag until they reach the island of Guam. There they will don their ROCN uniforms and begin flying the flag of Taiwan.

These two destroyers are the first two in the package, with two more following close behind. The ships will improve ROC anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities and air-defense capabilities.

The Taipei Times and China Post both have articles on the destroyers.


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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Woshan 10-A

Jing of Those Who Dare posted not too long ago about China's indigenously developed and produced Woshan 10A turbofan engine. Jing finds the WS-10A engine to be comparable to the F-110 GE-129. Why should the production of such an outdated engine be noteworthy? To quote Jing:
This would put the Chinese at least 15 years behind the latest American engine technology, though it is a vast improvement from a decade ago where they were nearly 30 years behind.

Because of this technological gap, China has previously relied on foreign engines (from Rolls Royce or various Russian manufacturers) for its fighters--even those that it prided itself on having indigenously developed. China is apparently using this engine in its J-10 multirole fighters.

I don't know enough about engines to agree or disagree with the comparison of engines mentioned above. The Jamestown Foundation and Chinese Defense Today both describe the WS-10A as comparable to the Russian-made AL-31 engine used on the Su-27. That in itself is impressive considering their inability to produce any engine worth flying not long ago.

Anyone who knows anything about aircraft engines and/or China's ability to produce them, please comment with your thoughts. Is this a significant landmark representing Chinese technological advancement or just an outdated engine?


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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dry Run

Many Taiwanese military exercises are "scripted" (also known as fake or rigged).* Therefore, when a chance arrives to see the military in action against something under more realistic conditions, military analysts come out of the woodworks to watch. Today offers just such an opportunity and the result doesn't reflect well on ROC air power.

EastSouthWestNorth posts on a South Korean freighter which after a collision was leaking benzene into the air. Taiwan's Environmental Protection Agency called in the ROCAF, who deployed F-16s to drop 2,000 pound laser-guided bombs that failed to sink the freighter. Next a pair of AH-1W Super Cobras attacked with eight Hellfire missiles. At last sighting the freighter had still failed to sink completely. See ESWN's post for pictures.

As for the lessons learned, ESWN reports:
[T]he armchair generals are having a good time commenting about how these armed forces can fight a war when they cannot even sink a static capsized ship.

*For more on the scripted nature of Taiwan's military exercises, see this post on this year's Han Kuang exercise.


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China's Universities

It has been almost a decade since then President Jiang Zemin declared higher education to be a top priority of the Chinese government. In that time, funding for universities has more than doubled.

Chinese (and Indian) universities are starting to get the attention of globalization experts, who warn that American students aren't keeping up in engineering and the hard sciences. Thomas Friedman dedicated a whole chapter to the subject ("The Quiet Crisis") in his most recent book The World is Flat.

Howard French writes in the International Herald Tribune on China's efforts to develop Tsinghua, Peking University, and others into world-class universities. (Hat Tip: Simon World)
China's model is simple: recruit top foreign-trained Chinese and overseas-born ethnic Chinese to well-equipped labs, surround them with the brightest students and give them tremendous leeway.

Harvard, Cambridge, and the other American and British liberal arts universities atop the list of the world's best universities needn't worry, however.
China is focusing on science and technology, areas that reflect the country's development needs, but also reflect the preferences of an authoritarian system that restricts free speech. The liberal arts often involve critical thinking about politics, economics and history. The government has placed relatively little emphasis on achieving world-class status in these subjects. Yet, many Chinese say - most often indirectly - that the limits on academic debate could hamper efforts to create world-class universities.

For a broader look at education and what it takes to create a world class university, see this series of articles from The Economist. Specifically relevant to China is the discussion of the tradeoff between "massification" (expanding access to higher education) and developing excellence in elite institutions.


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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Who's Next?

ROC Foreign Minister Mark Chen has offered his resignation because of Senegal's surprise switch of diplomatic recognition to China.
Chen said he felt "cheated" over the development given that Senegal had "repeatedly promised" that China's economic activity in the country would not affect its diplomatic relations with Taiwan. (Source)

In light of the surprise, officials in the Foreign Ministry and National Security Bureau are now warning of
concern that Taiwan's entire roster of allies would succumb to Beijing's diplomatic clout.

The most likely ally to fall next is the Vatican (Holy See). (On the other hand, I've been predicting that switch for months.)

Details are starting to come out about Senegal's switch:
[Senegalese President Abodoulaye] Wade said that "between countries, there are no friends, only interests."

The price tag for Senegal's switch: 600 million US dollars.

Updates:
  • The Times of London reports:
    The Vatican is preparing to break its ties with Taiwan and establish diplomatic relations with mainland China, ending more than 50 years of mutual hostility with Beijing, The Times has learnt.
  • ESWN opines that the going rate in Taipei for a diplomatic ally is on the order of half a billion NTD annually (or 15 million USD).


Reply: Sun Bin analyzes Taiwan's diplomatic allies in order to attempt to answer this question.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

25 and Counting (Down)

Taiwan has lost yet another diplomatic ally. Coming Anarchy posts on Senegal changing its recognition to the People's Republic. Coming Anarchy sums up the situation nicely:
China and Taiwan do not keep diplomatic relations with states that recognize the other country. And with the growing importance of China's economy, countries are dumping Taiwan for China. The remaining 25 countries that recognize Taiwan are mostly small Latin American, African and Pacific nations attracted partly with pledges of investment or aid.

The BBC reports that Senegal is the sixth country to change over to China since President Chen took office. That is roughly one per year. It seems that slowly, but surely China is buying away all of Taiwan's allies. Mind you, this is not intended as a criticism of China. Taiwan is also buying many of its friends. The whole situation is one ongoing auction.

In light of the situation, diplomatic experts are offering Taiwan free advice. The consensus seems to be:
  • "If Taiwan wants to build their case for independence, then cutting ties with a country that recognizes the PRC is the last thing that they should be doing! All it does it reinforce the absurd one China policy. Instead, they should be encouraging dual recognition starting at these low levels before they take their case to the UN." (MutantFrog)

  • "reorient [Taiwan's] foreign policy away from an emphasis on the number of countries that recognize it and the treatment received by its leaders overseas and toward demonstrating to the international community it is a good global and regional citizen." (Former State Dept. Official)


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Retrocession Day

Sixty years ago today, Japanese rule of Taiwan ended. To get an idea of the different things that this day means to different people, read these three very different articles:

These three articles show the Chinese position (Xinhua), DPP position (TNO), and disinterested foreigner position (BBC). The KMT position is covered in Xinhua. Ironic isn't it?

Update: For anyone confused by my use of the word "Retrocession" yesterday, President Chen offers a clarification:
The real meaning of 'retrocession' is Taiwanese having the freedom to rule their own country.


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Monday, October 24, 2005

Kinmen Island

Today is the 56th anniversary of the Battle of Kuningtou. In honor of this great victory of the ROC Army, read a superbly-written explanation of the significance of Kinmen (Quemoy) Island by Jerome Keating.

For those of you wondering where you have seen reference of this battle before, it was probably here. I've previously used Kuningtou to explain why fishing boats will not play a decisive role in a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan (explained further here). Michael Turton's counter-example is Hainan Island, which you can read about here. We report... You decide.


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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Chinese Economic Numbers

If the earlier discussion of Chinese defense expenditures didn't give you enough fictional economics for one week, China's third-quarter economic growth numbers are out.
The GDP figures recorded growth from July to September at 9.4 per cent, almost exactly on par with the first two quarters, which came in at 9.4 and 9.5 per cent respectively. [source]

Simon offers a great deconstruction of China's numbers by Jake van der Kamp. The Financial Times also has some doubts.

For those readers who aren't automatically skeptical upon seeing Chinese economic statistics of any variety:
  • Simon World has a great roundup explaining the generally fictious nature of China's economic statistics.

  • I previously blogged on fuel consumption contradicting growth statistics here. Especially relevant is this article from The New Republic cited therein, which sadly is available only to subscribers.


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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Turton Takes Guardian to Task

Michael Turton points out an all too common misunderstanding of Taiwan in the foreign media:
I have to admit that I am in despair over the simple inability of foreign columnists to get Taiwan right. I could list probably 30 blogs that whose writers have a more interesting and knowledgeable take on Taiwan, and well understand the issues surrounding the weapons purchase. This article from the Guardian puts out the same inane analysis that the others do, with a bonus error on the Taiwan Relations Act.

I am amazed by how many people misunderstand the Taiwan Relations Act and/or the general China-Taiwan situation. None of this is new... why all the confusion?


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Friday, October 21, 2005

Chinese Defense Spending

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, on his recent visit to China, asked China to release its real defense expenditures. When prodded by Associated Press reporter Bob Burns during a question and answer session, Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan replied (through translator):
[T]his year's defense budget of China is some 29.56 billion U.S. dollars, and that's calculated according to the old official exchange rate between the Chinese Yuan and U.S. dollars. Introducing the new exchange rate, today's defense budget is at the level of 30.2 billion U.S. dollars. And I'm quite sure to tell you that that is indeed the true budget we have today. It is not necessary and not impossible [sic], actually, for us to massively increase the defense budget. (source)
I guess that clears it up then. American estimates, which differ by hundreds of percent in many cases, were off because of the two percent appreciation of the Yuan. (note the sarcasm)

Most PLA-watchers conclude that the numbers China gives for its defense expenditures are unrealisitically low. Sinologist David Shambaugh has concluded:
Few areas of Chinese military affairs are more opaque and difficult to research than the revenue/expenditure and budget/finance domains--but perhaps none is more important to understand. (Modernizing China's Military, 184)

Deadpen at Project China recently collected some different estimates of Chinese defense spending showing how confusing and varied the estimates were. There are a couple of reasons for the variation:
  • Ideas differ as to what numbers should be included in 'defense spending.'
  • The PLA has multiple sources of revenue.
In his defense, Minister Cao did caveat his answer, saying:
[S]ome funding for the development of certain equipments is not calculated in our defense budget, that is true. For example, the funding for the manned space mission, Shenzhou VI, is not calculated as part of the defense budget.

That is a good start but far from sufficient. In addition to the space program, China's official defense budget overlooks
a wide variety of military accounting items commonly included in Western budgets:
  • Procurement of weapons from abroad
  • Expenses for paramilitaries (People's Armed Police)
  • Nuclear weapons and strategic rocket programs
  • State subsidies for the defense-industrial complex
  • Some defense-related research and development
  • Extra-budget revenue (yusuanwai).
That quote comes from the most complete analysis I've seen of the Chinese defense budget: RAND's Modernizing China's Military, which is available free online. Chapter four of that text will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Chinese defense numbers and certainly more than you will ever get out of China's Ministry of National Defense.

Update: Sun Bin offers this article critiquing many Western estimates of Chinese defense expenditures.


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No Beijing-Washington Hotline

According to Bill Gertz, China has rejected a request from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to create a direct line between senior leaders in Beijing and the White House. The line, which would be similar to the "Red Phone" in the Cold War, would threaten Chinese security because
the communications channel will permit U.S. intelligence agencies to trace the location of senior Chinese decision makers who use the telephone.

Lest readers think that paranoia is the only thing preventing the creation of such a hotline, Gertz offers another explanation:
One official also told us that another reason China's military is opposed to a direct telephone link with the Pentagon is that "anyone who answers the phone can't make a decision."

Update: Japan is asking for a hotline as well. The response is predictable.


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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Unknown Story Over China

Keith Windschuttle compares Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China (1937) and Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's Mao: The Unknown Story (2005). Not surprisingly he comes down on the side of the latter.
Snow's book played a major role in converting public opinion in both America and Europe towards a more favorable view of Mao. Its biggest impact, however, was within China itself, where it had a profound influence on radical youth. [...] The story that drew them there, however, was a fiction. The new biography Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday shows that every major claim made by Snow was false.

Many of the points from Unknown Story that Windschuttle cites to refute Red Star have been questioned, but I have to agree that the accusation of bias and disinformation against Snow seem to be accurate. That makes the hero-worship (in some sectors) of Snow all the more worrying:
On the left of politics, Snow is still widely regarded today as a heroic figure, both for his writings in the 1930s and for the persecution he suffered in the 1950s from investigations by J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joseph McCarthy, which forced him to flee the United States for Switzerland. He is still held up in schools of journalism as a model practitioner. In the past decade he has been the subject of no few- er than three book-length biographies, all published by American university presses and all favorable. The University of Missouri proudly advertises that it holds his collected papers in its archives.

In addition to comparing the two texts, he does a good job explaining the atrocities of the Chinese Communist Party under Mao, for those wishing to learn more about that part of Chinese history.

Hat Tip: Simon World

Update: Here is the New York Times review of Mao: The Unknown Story and another by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof. (Hat Tips: Peking Duck)


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Politics Trumps Health

As happens again and again when Taiwan is concerned, political considerations have trumped health concerns. Mad Minerva posts on the first case of bird flu in Taiwan (it was smuggled onto the island) and Canada's refusal to allow Taiwan to participate in an upcoming conference on coordinating the international response to the avian flu. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

Hint: SARS outbreak. Taiwan. WHO. Ringing any bells?

Update:Mad Minerva praises Taiwan for mass-producing Tamiflu. Marginal Revolution has some thoughts on why stockpiles of Tamiflu, while beneficial, aren't the panacea many people think that it is.


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Blocking and Unblocking


The latest reports from behind the Great Firewall of China indicate that Wikipedia has been blocked and Blogspot has been unblocked. There are additional reports that Google's cache is now accessible in China.

Some people are trying to make sense out of the changes, wondering if this is a result of some deal made by Google (who runs Blogspot). That seems unlikely considering the recent decision of Google Maps.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The 88s

Using Blogger's Blog Search, I have recently stumbled across a few blogs that I had never noticed before. The most notable of the new blogs (or at least new to me) that I have found is The 88s. The site, which covers a mix of topics, has quite a few great posts related to China.

The first post that caught my attention was The 9 Men Who Run China, which looks at the members of the Politburo Standing Committee and concludes:
  • "All nine are engineers.
  • Only one was educated outside of China (Luo Gan), and in East Germany of all places.
  • There are no women on the PSC.
  • All nine are Han Chinese.
  • 6 out of 9 are Jiang proteges.
  • 4 out of 9 went to Qinghua.
  • Gigantic Coke-bottle glasses are standard issue on the PSC."
After analyzing the current bunch, The 88s looks ahead, offering some thoughts on who will lead the Fifth Generation but I won't rip off everything written there. You'll have to follow the link for the rest.

Another post that is certainly worthy of a read is Theory vs. Reality. Included in that post are some guidelines for understanding China:
  • "If you don't speak/read Chinese, forget it.*
  • If you don't understand that Chinese politics is an outgrowth of Chinese culture in many ways, forget it.
  • If you don't understand how local government works in China, forget it.
  • If you don't understand where China was 30 years ago, forget it.
  • If you get hung up on the word "communism," forget it.
  • If you can't accept contradiction, forget it."
Go give those posts and the rest of the blog a read.

*If not being able to speak Chinese is hampering your China analysis, try some Chinese lessons at ChinesePod. (Hat Tip: Simon World)


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Chinese Invasion Critique

As promised in my last post, here are my thoughts on Michael Turton's China invasion scenario.

  • A lot of this argument has already been covered in in our back and forth on China's ability to invade Taiwan last July and thus will not be addressed again.

  • The latest RUMINT states that American war plans call for two or three American aircraft carriers within striking distance of the Taiwan Strait within 72 hours. When the first act of terrorism/sabotage is conducted, forces will be alerted. China would need to have overwhelming force in place before the US can respond and even with a large number of commandos/spies planted in Taiwan in advance, I seriously doubt their ability to accomplish that. Once America gets into place, America's F/A-18 Hornets would put a serious hamper on China's ability to conduct troop insertion and resupply by air and could begin to attrit China's surface ships. [whether or not America will intervene is addressed below]

  • The plan to cover-up invasion preparations under the guise of an exercise is not particularly new. I'm guessing that the Taiwanese have thought of that and that whenever the Chinese are conducting exercises anywhere near the Strait Central Line and Taiwanese waters, a large number of Taiwanese fighters are on alert.

  • Chinese planes are attacking power facilities and the like in Turton's scenario. This is no longer a decapitation-style strike, but rather a full-fledged war, I guess. The Minnick piecehad planned to take the island intact, I guess that is one place where Turton's scenario differs. I don't doubt China's ability to blow up a lot of stuff, but I don't think it would be an efficient use of resources for an aggressor with a limited window of attack. On the topic of dams, I'm not sure that China would want to legitimize dams as a target considering they also have large dams that could be hit. This isn't to say they wouldn't do it; just that I wouldn't call it wise.

  • I'm sorry to see that Turton has such little faith in the ROC military. The willingness of those soldiers to fight, however, is something that can't be proven either way until the event occurs and hopefully we will never know. I am confident in most of the men and women of the ROC armed forces that I know and of their willingness to fight.
    Additionally, loyalty and political ideology all tend to fade away in the face of someone shooting at you and bombing your house. In a all-out attack like the one described, I think the military will fight back out of self-preservation if for no other reason. I would say that the military remaining inactive is more plausible in a decapitation strike like Minnick describes but still not likely.

  • When dealing with airborne insertions, the shortage will not be soldiers. As Turton notes, any ground pounder can be taught quickly to jump from an airplane (or just pushed out of one). China's shortage, however, will be airplanes. According to David Shambaugh's Modernizing China's Military, China's military is so short on airlift capability that even its rapid reaction forces deploy domestically by train or road (158). I don't have any numbers on China's airlift capability but I'm pretty sure it is a small number and I seriously doubt the ability of the PLA to airdrop in any heavy weaponry (tanks and artillery), meaning they would be throwing a few lightly armored airborne troops against a modern heavy army.

  • The targets hit and the order of their attack seems reasonable to me, but that doesn't say much as I haven't spent much time thinking of how to conquer the island.

  • We've been through the sealift argument before with Hainan and Kuningtou (Kinmen) as our case studies. I would just add that coming ashore at Taiwan's ports would certainly be easier, but one must take the ports first and that wouldn't be as easy as he seems to think, in my estimation. I guess the ROC military units defection and treachery he predicts is why that could be accomplished so easily because the military knows what would happen if they gave up a few ports.
    All of Phase 2 may be a waste of time, however, as it seems that the ROCA, ROCN, and ROCAF have already thrown in the towel in this scenario.

  • Turton writes:
    Taiwanese units have begun to slowly recover from their disorganization and inherent incompetence.
    It is a good thing that the PLA forces don't have either of those because that would seriously undermine their ability to conduct these fantastic maneuvers.

  • Minnick writes:
    Taiwan's military is rife with lethargic and ineffectual troops just begging for their 20-month tour of duty to end so they can go back to their girlfriends and jobs.
    Once again it must be noted that this also applies to China. Conscripts make up roughly 65% of the Chinese military (MCM, 153). Do they not have girlfriends that they want to be with?

  • Turton's comments on Cadet Hung Wanting, who is performing quite well at the finest military academy in the world are misleading. She had one year of training at the ROC Military Academybefore attending West Point. Just because something is not trained in land navigation or spends insufficient time on life-fire marksmanship as a freshmen, does not mean it is not taught and/or emphasized at all in the country's military.

  • Turton notes:
    Xinhua, despite being openly and obviously controlled by the Communist government of China, has quietly become an important source of news for Western newspapers, who, incredibly, cite it as if it were a news supplier and not a propaganda organ.
    This is true and regrettable.

  • Finally, Turton rightly questions whether or not America would intervene at all. He cites an overstretched US military and China's holdings of American dollars. I seriously doubt that either factor will affect America's response. If America does not respond, it won't be because China has T-bills. With Bush in the White House, I'd say it is a safe bet that America would do "whatever it took to help Taiwan defend itself." Under President Clinton or whoever is elected in 2008, I'm not so confident that America would do the right thing, but under Bush I think America's response is clear.

  • In summation, I disagree with most of Turton's conclusions. It would be much harder for China to invade than depicted. It seems that every advantage has been given to the Chinese forces and the Taiwanese have been underestimated at every turn. I don't know that we should fear 2008 any more or less than any other year, but I think it is a pretty safe bet that we won't see the events described on Turton's blog that year.


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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Chinese Invasion

Michael Turton of The View From Taiwan has written an in-depth analysis of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan worthy of being bound and sold in bookstores. As soon as I have had a chance to digest his conclusions I'll have a reply, but for now I just want to recommend it to everyone as a top-notch intellectual exercise.

Other great posts coming from Turton as of late include:
All three are well worth a read (as is Turton's blog in general).


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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Shenzhou VI

Shenzhou VI took off successfully earlier today carrying lieutenant colonels Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng into space. For continuing coverage of the space flight, check out the following sites:
Peking Duck has an interesting post on the subject which looks at the media coverage. China Confidential also writes about the launch.


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The Eight Submarines

The special budget that would allow Taiwan to purchase numerous significant weapon systems from the United States is once again being discussed in the news and blogosphere. Michael Turton of The View from Taiwan reports that PACOM commander Admiral William Fallon has recommended that the submarines be removed from the special budget in order to facilitate its passage. That does not appear to be the case. From the Washington Times article under discussion:
The officers said the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. William J. Fallon, had encouraged Taiwan to strengthen its defenses with increased spending, a better command structure, more joint training, and defensive missiles, mines and helicopters.

After studying Taiwan's defenses, the U.S. officers said, the admiral has urged the Taiwanese forces to acquire more missiles for their fighter-interceptor jet aircraft, ground-based anti-aircraft missiles, attack helicopters and mines to defend the beaches against amphibious invaders and transport helicopters to move troops against invading paratroopers.

The officers suggested that the arms package featuring offensive weapons such as diesel-electric submarines, anti-submarine patrol planes and destroyers, which the Bush administration offered to sell Taiwan in 2001, be allowed to fade away.
"The officers" in question are anonymous "Senior officers of the U.S. Pacific Command" not Admiral Fallon. It is not inconceivable that Fallon supports cutting the submarines given his background (he is a career naval aviator), but that isn't what the article says.

On the call to cut the subs from the special budget, Turton comments:
It's high time senior US decisionmakers started talking sense on this topic. Subs are useless as deterrents for invasion -- especially when they will arrive in dribs and drabs over 10 years, making a grand total of 8. Pundits often quote "But the best weapon to hunt another sub with is a sub" without really thinking through the implications. HINT: If we're subhunting, which nation do you want to be -- the one that operates dozens of subs, or the one that operates eight? The fact is that this axiom is a two-edged sword, and the Chinese side is a lot sharper.

As I am one of the "pundits" in question (see my previous post), allow me to defend the submarine purchase. Not buying new submarines surrenders control of everything under the sea to China (although Taiwan could still conduct anti-submarine warfare from the surface or sky). China currently has the world's largest submarine force (55 submarines), if not the most potent (America's 54 nuclear submarines are far more capable), and is still growing rapidly even as it retires its older Romeos. Surrendering everything subsurface waters isn't particularly wise. To put it mildly, I wouldn't want to be in a surface ship when the opponent is dominant underneath me. Submariners have a saying:
There are two types of ships: submarines and targets.
Turton advocates reallocating the money for submarines to fighters, but the point remains that there is no money for the subs hence the current standstill. I would advocate fixing weaknesses before maximizing strengths, even though both are certainly important.


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Chinese Growth

According to most economists, China is growing at just shy of 10 percent per annum. (For an alternate evaluation, see this post.) There are numerous explanations for this meteoric rise and its sustainability, the simplest of which is that the country was so messed up for so long that removing the impediments to growth results in break-neck growth.

Logan at Survived SARS has a great post entitled "China's New Growth Model" that examines the drivers of Chinese growth that is well worth a read.

The China Daily article he cites proposes
[China] should instead move towards the model adopted by developed countries -- depending more on technological innovations and less on resources and labor for growth
Go and read the rest.


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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Special Budget Tabled for 32nd Time

There has been considerable effort in the United States to send a message to Taiwan on the importance of the special budget (the most recent example being Congressman Chabot). Chen Shui-bian's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has tried time and again to get the budget for arms (now including eight submarines and 12 sub-hunting aircraft) to the floor of the Legislative Yuan for a debate. The Pan-Blue Coalition, which includes the Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP), has prevented this from happening by tabling the motion repeatedly.

The Blues have previously tried to portray this as a principled stand against over-priced weaponry that isn't needed because Taiwan can trust China's intentions. Many, however, suspect that stonewalling the special budget, which was originally a KMT initiative, is part of a larger initiative to prevent the passage of any DPP sponsored legislation or action from passing the legislature. Jujuflop has blogged on the effect of this policy on the Control Yuan. Today's Taipei Times shows informs us that the special budget is just one of many bills being held from debate.
The committee voted in favor of tabling the stymied arms procurement bill along with 17 other bills proposed by the DPP and its small ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).
That seems to lend support to the general obstructionist theory.

One additional piece from the article worth considering:
The PFP has threatened to push the party asset bill through for legislative review if the KMT breaks ranks with it on the arms bill, which the PFP adamantly opposes.That bill is designed to compel the KMT to return its stolen party assets to the public and state coffers.
Whether you see that as extortion or horse-trading, I guess is a matter of perspective, but it doesn't seem like the Blues are particularly friendly at the moment.


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Monday, October 03, 2005

Neoconservative Approach to China

The latest issue of The Weekly Standard has an article by Max Boot that outlines what America's policy toward China should be. It basically outlines the Neoconservative approach, a perspective for which I feel some affection.
Beyond containment, deterrence, and economic integration lies a strategy that the British never employed against either Germany or Japan--internal subversion. Sorry, the polite euphemisms are "democracy promotion" and "human rights protection," but these amount to the same thing: The freer China becomes, the less power the Communist oligarchy will enjoy.

This reminds me of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which is credited in Sharansky's The Case for Democracy with playing a large role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The amendment
denied Normal Trade Relations to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted emigration rights. [Wikipedia]

As Sharansky said of the amendment:
in a closed society, freedom of emigration lowers the degree of control a regime can exercise over its subjects. When people have a right to leave a country, Sakharov explained, they are less afraid and more independent, they are more willing to stand up for the rights that everyone is being denied. [116]

Granted, the Max Boot article is advocating undermining the government's control not through immigration, but in other ways, but the end goal is the same. Specifically, Boot recommends:
The United States should aim to "Taiwanize" the mainland--to spread democracy through such steps as increased radio broadcasts and Internet postings. [...] American technology should be used to crack open, not cement, the authority of the Communist party. The United States needs to step up spending for the Chinese service of the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, the National Endowment for Democracy, and other organizations that aim to penetrate the Bamboo Curtain.

This could potentially reap benefits around the world. While China is the leader in censoring the internet, others do so as well.
In 2004 Congress allocated $1 million for a trial grant to the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a project to circumvent Beijing's Internet controls. That work needs to be greatly expanded. As suggested by the congressionally chartered U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, we need to create an Office of Global Internet Freedom within the executive branch that would work on undermining government controls on the web not only in China but also in dictatorships from Cuba to Syria.

Many bloggers are doing their part to ensure the free flow of information into China by creating mirror sites. Perhaps the government should step up their efforts as well.

Update: Survived SARS looks at the same article here.


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USNA Prof Speaks on China-Taiwan

Mad Minerva blogs on a recent speech by Dr. Yu Maochun who teaches at the United States Naval Academy (USNA). The speech covered historical, security, diplomatic, and economic issues.
A few excerpts:
Recently a PLA general listed 6 consequences that would happen if China attacked Taiwan: Number one on the list: the loss of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Number two: the loss of the 2010 World's Fair in Shanghai. Note that there is no mention on that list of Taiwan economic issues.[...] But if the PRC decides to use force, it will do so at any cost.

Any synopsis of this speech won't do it justice though, so check out the whole thing.


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