The time has come for the United States to rebuild and rethink its approach to Taiwan’s defense and security. China is becoming too provocative and aggressive, not only in the South China Sea, but also in the Taiwan straits, where it is starting to encroach on well-established red lines. It has also been carrying out military flights around the Taiwanese periphery, then heading as far as Japan, sending a message to both countries. It is not a message of peace and cooperation.
Over the years – and no matter under what administration – support for Taiwan in the United States has been, at best, mediocre. The supply of mostly obsolete defense hardware, the long delays in providing equipment, the stilted and mostly non-functional military-to-military relationship and America’s reluctance to respond to Chinese provocations: these factors have left Taiwan largely on its own.
I was in Taiwan during the 1996 Taiwan Straits Crisis, when Chinese missiles and landing ships were conducting an exercise that directly threatened Taiwan. I remember just how long it took before Bill Clinton finally sent US aircraft carriers to the area, forcing China to stand down. It was frightening, and a very close call. Taiwan had very little chance without US support – even then, when its air force and navy were stronger than now. (I was part of a three-man unofficial delegation that included former CIA head James Woolsey and Admiral Bud Edney. Later I would serve for five years as a Commissioner on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.)
But Washington hardly changed its ways toward Taiwan after 1996. Most of Washington’s inaction derives from the perceived “imperative” to have good relations with China. China was regarded as an emerging power and as a huge market for the United States, while Taiwan was seen as an unneeded irritant, impeding ties to China.
At least to a degree, the worm has turned, because China is no longer “emerging,” and it is no longer just the big country that, just a few years ago, the Pentagon regarded as 20 years behind the United States in military terms. Even back in 2011, when the Pentagon made that assessment, its conclusion was largely political and not at all the reality. It was a way to ignore reality and leave Taiwan and other allies, including Japan, in the lurch.
With power-politics changing in the region and China having emerged as an aggressive player with advanced military technology, the US has to significantly modify its behavior pattern toward Taiwan
But the appearance of China’s stealth aircraft, the Chengdu J-20, in the South China Sea, China’s aggressive takeover and militarization of islands it does not own, and increasing threats to American allies, especially Taiwan and Japan, has changed the game. And, while the China lobby in the State Department, with its long-held proclivity for appeasement, has kept the policy line without change, the truth is that the geopolitics have changed. In short, if the US wants to play a future role in the Pacific, it had better rethink its policy now.
What is Washington going to do with regard to Taiwan? Wait until disaster strikes? Behave as we are doing in Syria, as the Syrian and Russian air forces decimate the population of eastern Ghouta? Imagine the humanitarian disaster in Taiwan if China were to attack.
The US has to put in place a deterrence program that works for Taiwan and supports US interests. There are, at least, four important steps – three hardware-related and one policy step – that are urgently needed.
On the hardware front, the US has to give Taiwan a real capability to challenge both the J-20 and Su-35 jets that China is using provocatively. This means Taiwan needs aircraft that can match these challenges. Either that means providing the F-35 to Taiwan, or another stealth aircraft that can do the same job. Boeing has proposed the F-15SE, or Silent Eagle, which is intended as a stealthed-up version of the F-15 that could use many of the same electronic and countermeasure capabilities as the F-35.
Washington should facilitate providing one or the other to Taiwan and do so on an urgent basis. The existing F-16 upgrade program underway in Taiwan with US support is important but it falls way short of the mark as a deterrent to China. The game should not be left entirely in China’s hands, and China needs to understand that any air attack may fail and undermine China’s claims to area-wide superpower status.
Taiwan also needs modern submarines. It hardly suffices for Taiwan to be running two broken-down 1985-era Dutch submarines which are uncompetitive with China’s growing fleet of nuclear and conventionally powered submarines. And if it is true that Germany transferred U-214 submarine technology to China, then the picture is worse and far more dangerous.
Over the years, the United States has promised to help Taiwan acquire modern submarines, but such promises have turned out to be an unfortunate boondoggle, one that stirred controversy in Taiwan and never brought anything useful to fruition. What the administration should have done then, and can still do today, is to buy submarines from Europe, put US systems in them and either sell or lease them to Taiwan. The Germans, French, Italians and Swedes make first class diesel-electric submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP). These would make it hard for China’s submarines to choke off Taiwan.
I remember just how long it took before Bill Clinton finally sent US aircraft carriers to the area, forcing China to stand down. It was frightening
The idea that Taiwan will build its own modern submarine is a noble one, but there are many challenges and no assurance of success because Taiwan lacks the design teams, experience and technology developed over decades in Europe and the United States. Furthermore, the projected ten years it would take to even have a prototype of a local version is too long. Surely Washington can and must lend a hand.
Thirdly, Taiwan needs better and more numerous missile defenses. The PAC-3 system is simply inadequate against top-of-the-line Chinese ballistic missiles. THAAD or SM-3 are the kind of defenses Taiwan needs, and not only should the US offer them but it should fix them so they work right. What we have seen – forget the excuses – is that neither THAAD or SM-3 are up to snuff and need to be upgraded. Probably the kinetic hit to “kill” interceptor warhead needs a rethink. No one really is talking about this weakness in Washington, largely because not many people really believe in missile defense. But it is needed and the upgrade should be a top agenda item in Washington. (Basically, hit to kill is ineffective against MIRV’d missiles with decoys and an area kill warhead should replace it.)
Lastly, the US relationship to Taiwan, which has been improved a little around the edges, actually needs radical change. Today the US should be working out protocols to be able to use Taiwanese air bases in any crisis, or for that matter for any issue requiring US emergency basing in the region, whether China-related or otherwise. With the right protocols like in place, China’s civilian and military leaders will immediately understand that the US is for sure coming to Taiwan’s defense if China gets more aggressive. Having a physical presence is more valuable than a written mutual defense agreement, although a strong mutual defense treaty would also buttress the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) which is Taiwan’s safeguard against China, remembering that it was really the Congressional answer to the Nixon-Kissinger deal abandoning Taiwan for a China relationship.
In the current circumstances, with power-politics changing in the region and China having emerged as an aggressive player with advanced military technology, the US has to significantly modify its behavior pattern toward Taiwan by rethinking how to defend it and by upgrading and helping to rebuild Taiwan’s defenses.
Any American administration can count on support from Congress for proposals like those outlined here. The real issue for Washington is moving the State Department away from a pro-China position (one that is also reflected in the Pentagon and National Security Council to a degree) to one that sees the military and strategic challenge ahead from China and responds to it correctly. President Trump needs to seize the initiative, because no one else will.
Taiwan is not part of China’s family. China is needs to stop constantly harassing Taiwan. That is why Taiwan needs to spend more on our military and have our fences up. Learn to respect your neighbor before spouting your nonsense.
Zionist war monger Stephen Bryen stirring shit, dishing out fake news again. Aren’t we all glad that Pax Americana is coming to an end, having caused millions upon millions of death and destruction in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and so many other parts of the world? This Zionist should be grateful to the Russians. A hell of a lot of Jews would have died if not for the Russians winning against fascist Hitler. These days, fascism emanate not from Germany but from Israel, and its supporting war mongers in America.
You just perfectly described why free people, regardless of others perception of the shithole they crawl out of every morning, have so much work left to do.
Ladies and Gents here come the voice of: Jewish Empire of USA
Vince Cheok If your argument stood, then there was no any other country but we all African. Do you think Singaporean Chinese becuase they used simplified Chinese and they have Chinese names? Do you think Donald Trump is German becuase his families moved to US in the 19th?
It would be a PLAAF wet dream if ROCAF gets F-35. It would probably takes ZERO days for US technical secrets to leak to Beijing. And even a non-zero chance CCP can bribe a ROC pilot to fly a fully functional F-35 to the mainland. There are more than one hundred mainland airports within 75 km from TW airspace. Giving TW less than 3 minutes to notice and respond to a defection.
Root problem for the Pan-Greens (Taiwanese) is that they expect the military to defend them against China, but ROC officers are dominated by Chinese. A lot of them are easy target for CCP to bribe for intels or even defections if bullets start flying.
"…Why should I?…" For survival, maybe?
Cut the crap. Taiwan is not China. And never will be. Majority of Taiwanese don’t identify with Chinese anymore. It’s a long gone era. No matter how much you whine here wouldn’t change the outcome.
Sooner China realises Taiwan can’t be brought into their delusional one China thing, it will better off for all the parties concern. Absolute majority of Taiwanese don’t relate to China anymore. They want nothing to do with China now. They have moved on. CCP China’s delusional freak dream of one China needs a place in long gone era.
THAAD is designed against ballistic missiles with minimum range of 1000-5000 km range, not 200-500km range that TW needs to be worried about. But unlike the case in South Korea. I think CCP will only pretend to oppose installing THAAD in Taiwan. Secretly they might wish to help Taiwan pays for it (of course we already know Uncle Trump wouldn’t spend American money to defend Taiwan), it’s only one tenth of ROC total military budget, no cost overrun, promised! Docs, software, even tons of spare parts right ready under Chinese eyes and hands. SWEET~~~
Unfilial boy! Ask your parents and your grandparents whether they are Chinese or Taiwanese? Ask them whether there is more than one China?
Stupid boy! Ask a North Korean or a South Korean whether if they do not wish to have politics and ideology disappear and that they is one Korea!
We are Chinese because we are one tribe and we have a common heritage that we practise daily not because we are all humans!
With your view the whole world should be one country and we all walk and talk the same!
So why do you walk and talk Chinese?
Vince Cheok A one Mr Cheok who associated with the University of Adelaide. It would seem that the Australians have another spy on their hands. They really need to take a firmer line on these people. Heaven knows the PRC regime wouldn’t be nearly so tolerant of spies & saboteurs in its midst. And yet we in the West allow for PRC saboteurs to abuse our liberalism and our moral obligation to be good hosts and treat our guests generously!
So Mr. Bryen has been involved in dipolmacy and China matters for over 40 years. For all those years of experiences, and you still hold just juvenile assessment of the world situation, have you been day dreaming and sleeping walking all the while? Your views and ideas reflect very poorly of the caliber of America’s corp of diplomatic hacks, just as many other so-called ‘reputable’ hands such as Biden, Shumer, Kerry, McCain, Rice, Clinton, etc have been. No wonder pros like Lavrov gained reputation on account of dealing with these midgets.
What a brilliant piece by the so so smart Mr Bryen———–send all our advanced weaponry to Taiwan——–and then within a matter of months of these very sophisticated weapons arriving on the island nation——-the Chinese goverment sends a group of the intelligent agents to go over the weapons with a fine tooth comb and go back to the mainland with all the plans of these sophisticated weapons———-and YES someone in the Taiwanese Government has allowed this to happen. I bet this has happened countless times BUT the so so smart Mr Bryen does not care if American state secrets are stolen——–he is just interested in the money made from selling the weapons————–that is a small mind for sure!!!
I am actually in KL. I am Malaysian.
And you? You are a spy in China for the Americans?
We are watching you! CCTV everywhere in China and face recognition technology too!
Yi-Hsin Huang Taiwan should go nuclear and build up very strong missile force. Commies understand only strength, appeasement does not work.
And this is what you decided for Taiwan? LoL…
Vince Cheok Wow "Taoist, Confucianist and Buddhist like the rest of us". Chinese communists give a damn shit about religions and that is the fact. Only Taiwan has respect for freedom of religion among the two parties. Only Taiwan allows these kind of spiritualities to thrive. As long as Communist China do not adopt the democratic way of life as it is in Taiwan, reunification is only a wildest dream and it is fading into the background with China’s aggressive moves to squeeze Taiwan diplomatically. What kind of family is this? It it ever happens then it will be a rape, a forced marriage at best. Taiwanese do not see themselves as Chinese. They have become better democracy loving citizens. Chinese are way below this benchmark. So just dream..and dream on.
Vince Cheok Dude, Australians speak English, Americans speak English. are they consider themselves as Englishmen? NO WAY. They could be good friends because they share the same democratic values. Otherwise, goodbye and never again.
Tuan Q Nguyen
I just hope you are Chinese like me with family members in the Mainland, in Taiwan and in fact all over the world. It helps to do well in international trade that way.
But if you are not Chinese, cannot speak or write Chinese and think in Chinese first before you make decisions on everything in daily life, kindly refer to what I wrote to Vikram Reddy.
But if you are Chinese from Vietnam, and still have family in the Mainland and n Taiwan, I suggest you read up the Tao Te Ching, about moving like water! Why worry about a solution now. Maintain the status quo. Things would sort itself out for that is the ‘yin and yang’ of life – enemies one day friends the next. Let the future generation sort out the problem. After 5000+ years as family, what is the fracking hurry for a divorce because a whiteman says so? Are you a ‘banana’ or Chinese.
I want you to know that I am not a Communist, and in fact my grandfather was a Kuomintang member. But I do not believe in two Chinas. There can only be one China. Tell me can there be two Israels?
If China is so great, what are you doing in Australia? China is doing all it can to screw up Australia, not just Taiwan.
Mark Niio The CCP is so screwed up they even claim that 4th and 5th generation ethnic Chinese "belong" to China.
Like Trump/America HAS a strategy for Taiwan (or anything else). They are just lurching from one crises to another.
Vince Cheok You are right by saying there are no Israels the same way there are no United Kingdoms but there is one UK, 1 US and 1 Asutralia. So if you get it then there are one Taiwan and one China the same way there are a Republic of Korea (a rich and democratic country) and a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a poor an dictatship country). Freedom of expression allows us – you and me and anyone – to speak. True, we cannnot speak on behalf of Taiwanese because we are not Taiwanese. The same goes for Chinese. They are not Taiwanese, they cannot speak on behalf of Taiwanese. The people in Taiwan have become increasingly confident. They do not want to be part of a one-party system. That is becoming clearer and cleared. It is very pronounced in their 2016 election. They have their voice. Not like in China, Chinese have no voice in politics. Why would someone want to submit to a dictatorship. I am sure Taiwanese people are smarter than that. If China is realy great then let Chinese people vote for the leadership through democratically election with multi parties. Almost 50 years have gone by the dream of reunification is drifting further away. And if Communist China thinks they can unite by coercion then…the reality has provided them an answer.
Exports represent a large percentage of the GDP of Taiwan and China buys 40% of Taiwan’s exports while USA buys 12%. Economically, Taiwan is a satellite of China; Taiwan shares the same language and the same culture as China.
I heard (not sure about it) that with today technology, the US could remotely destroy all sensitive parts of an aircraft and rendered it useless pieace of hardware. If that is true then Communist China will just waste their money to bribe Taiwanese military officials to defect with the advanced jet fighters.
Except they to not share the political systems which govern their DIFFERENT ways of life – everyday. Why would a Taiwanese want to live under a dictatorship (of Communist China)?
Tuan Q Nguyen,
Many Taiwanese live and work in China. Many Taiwanese investors have businesses in China. They do not mind the ‘dictatorship of communist China’. Actually, they benefit from their stay and their investments in China. Many mainland Chinese visit Taiwan as tourists.
Tuan Q Nguyen
Gee, it tires me to the point that I have to call you a nincompoop.
Can there ever be a North and South Vietnam? Are they two different people? Do you have Korean friends? Do you know that the politics aside that they wish there were no two Koreas!
And you know **** all about Chinese history and how the Province of Taiwan after the Civil War remained under the Kuomintang after Chiang fled the Mainland.
Tell me why did Lincoln fight the Southern States and not let there be two United States?
You really tire me with your total ignoramus?
Did you not do Modern History when you were at University?
Vince Cheok It would apear that you are a complete moron unable to formulate logical or coherent arguments. Yes there CAN be a North and South Vietnam, there IS North Korea and South Korea, North Sudan South Sudan. God your ignorant and stupid!
Rather then TELLING people what they want why don’t you let the people VOTE for what they want instead of pointing a gun to their head (as China is doing to all their neighbors). That’s called respecting others, something that you seem unable to comprehend.
So if Quebec wants to leave Canada they can do so with a simple election as they did in 1980 and 1995. Scotland in 2014. That’s what the civilized people do in the mordern world. Your reference of the US civil war which occured 150 years ago is totally irrelevant (you can look at China’s 5,000 years history and pull out tons of barbaric acts as well as customs such as burying slaves alive with their dead masters).
All I can say in my Minnan dialect is that I am wasting my time talking to a ‘banana’! You are obviously not Minnan with family on both sides of the Straits.
Well, be a ‘banana’ but for Chinese Minnan people like us with family in Taiwan and the Mainland, there can only be one China and no two Chinas.
Your lot is still in the minority in Taiwan! Probably your parents fled from the Mainland and have hatred for communism. We are different. We can go back and work and do business with family back on the Mainland. We have no time for divisive politics. We just talk business and about making money. Thank goodness! Otherwise we will all end up as ‘bananas’!
Going to war for Wal Mart? The Chinese won’t push diplomacy to war they know what side their toast is buttered on!
Vince Cheok You claim you are from Malaysia so why are you poking your nose in China – Taiwan issues?
Vince Cheok Hey Vince, fewer and fewer Taiwanese consider themselves to be Chinese. 90% of Taiwanese youth consider themselves to be exclusively Taiwanese. Also, your comment about family is pointless, just because you have family in a certain country doesnt mean you share their culture. China’s failure to uphold 1 China 2 systems ..due to it violating HK’s democracy as well as President Xi effectively becoming the strongest President since Deng …or even Mao… isnt giving Taiwan much confidence in the PRC’s ability to respect democracy. http://esc.nccu.edu.tw/main.php
Taiwan is definitely part of China , USA busybody shut up n focus on your own school gun affair, …
Tuan Q Nguyen， your hear say is wrong!
Rebecca Martinek thank you!
Michael Chan We are not contradicting each other. You focused on the economic aspect of it. Mine was political. They co-exist. But forcing Taiwanese to submit under China dictatorship then they will back out their economic ties.
Vince Cheok look at what China did to free press in Hong Kong and curbing its democracy. Yes ask mr xi (lowered case on purpose). Why squeezing the prodigal son (HK) to scare off Taiwanese. hahaha
Vince Cheok I do not mind any discussion. But when people resort to name calling then I realize one truth; they are not at the same moral and civic level for me to continue. So let it be.
Tuan Q Nguyen why China is a dictatorship?have u been n lived there or just hear say or been educated like this? Also why force Taiwan to submit? From historically it is! Just New taiwa generations try to kiss Japan or US ass n forget their roots.,that’s not right. Against China culture.
Tuan Q Nguyen , are you crazy?
Anyone with even a bit of a brain can see that we are both Chinese and that we are having an altercation whether there can only be one China (my stance) or there can possibly be two Chinas (your view), and further that my view is that what ever the current impasse, because of different ideologies, let it be, maintain the status quo, escalate trade and commerce and contact and dialogue between the two, and let the future generations decide – for the Buddha said once a rope is cut and even knotted up again, it will never ever be the same.
And sorry I do not have a million dollar cash, I am not the ‘head’ of the family, I only work for the family, as one of the hundreds of professionals, as a salary man.
Yi-Hsin Huang I thought sharing this news hoping that some will see the the real prospect of Taiwan’s kowtowing to China’s one party system is just a dream.. a bad dream, so bad that it will turn into a nightmare for the guy who wishes to rule China forever. Hahaha. If I remember correctly then once upon a time there as an emperor named Qin Shi Huang…….hahaha (I know it has nothing to do with your name).
Vince Cheok honestly judging from your writing it is evident that you’re more American than anything else. . While you may have family in Taiwan and China, how much do you really know of each cultural. You know they are very different right. It’s very easy to be a commentator on a useless board . Please spend a month is so in each country. Heck if you got the balls, I even go as far as paying for your trip. After two month let’s have this conversation again
Are you daft or what? If you have followed the thread you will know that even in my family we have Kuomintang and Communist members in my father’s generation.
The issue is not about whether Chinese cannot have different opinions. They can! All siblings fight!
The issue is whether there can be two Chinas!
And if you have followed the thread you will know my view is to maintain the status quo and let future generations decide when there is no tension in the air.
I suggest to stick to your Christian affairs.
I am a rich man myself and so do not ever insult me like you are a whiteman thinking the Chinese have to beg.
Looks like all you have are balls – what happened to the rest of your manhood you fricking banana!
Limpeh kah du kong. Do kong lan chiow oei! Do khih hoh kuei lang kan kah cheing! I hope you can understand Hokkien.
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