Official calls for global efforts to contain China. DEFENSE BUILDUP: Taipei aims to bolster information sharing with allies, build up its war reserves and protect key infrastructure, a vice defense minister said. Deputy Minister of National Defense Wang Shin-lung (王信龍) on Monday called for global efforts to contain Chinese security threats, including through joint military exercises, a strategic communication platform and the sharing of drone signals. In terms of military cooperation with the US, Wang said that Taipei hopes to establish an “intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance” sharing mechanism with Washington and enhance routine high-level official dialogue. Following his speech, Wang told Taiwanese reporters that his delegation had “productive” meetings with the US side during the conference held from Saturday to yesterday. “In the closed-door meetings, we have had candid exchanges concerning the obstacles and possible risks we are facing in terms of US arms sales, while the US side pledged it would do its best in helping Taiwan to solve these problems,” Wang said.
We will see if words and policy declarations are matched by actions. After decades of contradictory US policy regarding the west Pacific, if these reports are accurate, and if the Biden administration follows through on investments in western Pacific democratic alliances, then they should be credited for substantively advancing American national security interests.
Given the gravity and urgency of the communist China threat, it is mind-boggling that the democratically elected presidents of Taiwan and the US do not meet regularly, nor do their Secretary of State and Foreign Minister, Secretary of Defense and Minister of Defense, and so on. These self-imposed restrictions by the US have long outlived their original purposes, much as the original communique, the One China myth-pacifier, etc. And while DC and Taipei have been, for decades, stuck in this self-manufactured, very boring rom-com KPop soap opera, tea leaf reading for signs of relationship upgrade and downgrade, in this life and death crisis created by the Chinese communists, direct conversations at the highest level between the democratically elected leaders of the US and Taiwan are pragmatic and in the interest of national security on all sides.
As we have seen with Ukraine, a sign of western imperialism is in how western academia, journalism, think tanks, and officialdom overestimate the role their actions figure in the calculations of autocrats in Moscow, Beijing, and elsewhere. No serious observers on any side have advocated needlessly “provoking” the Chinese communists. Yet it is fascinating to see how difficult this false conviction will not die – Did Putin really invade democratic Ukraine over NATO or not being coddled even more by the west, or were there ultimate factors internal to Russia and that dictatorship? Do we seriously believe a Pelosi visit or even the US changing Taiwan’s embassy in DC name from Taipei to Taiwan are the primary or even secondary drivers in the Chinese communist calculation over when their Taiwan annexation D-Day would come? Western imperialism may find this line of thinking self-flattering – frontline democracies like Taiwan Republic, Ukraine, the Baltics, and Poland cannot afford this fantasy. Autocrats are most likely to attack when they think they are stronger, and when they think we lack the will to resist. The main thing that matters to dictators is the preservation of their dictatorship.
The priorities outlined here by the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense are sensible, and I am glad to see them specifying priorities in public, like intelligence sharing and coordination, interoperability, and joint exercises with the US and democratic allies. These are commonsensical ideas that for decades, because of unwise political decisions, the US-Taiwan-Japan have voluntarily ceded to communist China in lieu of military preparation. Also, a good sign that the relatively cautious and conservative Taiwanese military is willing to engage the US and the public this way – the core of Taiwan’s national defense will require the democratization and modernization of its military leadership. As the world should have learned from Ukraine, the priority must be to prevent a Chinese communist war of annexation from beginning. And while words like “dialogue” and “talks” and “compromise” are not bad per se, I have seen no evidence that they prevented or slowed the Russian decision to invade Ukraine. Ultimately, what may encourage a dictator like Xi to give his war plan to annex Taiwan a second thought is seeing concrete evidence that such a war will lead to the end of his dictatorship. How to communicate – in words and deeds – this reality to dictator Xi, is the top priority for Taiwan, the US, Japan, and global democracies. 6.10.2022
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