Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chang'e-1: Seven Tenths Politics, Three Tenths Military Development

Chang'e-1: Seven Tenths Politics, Three Tenths Military Development
United Daily New editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
October 30, 2007

On the morning of October 24, the Green camp launched its "Join the UN Torch Relay." The Blue camp launched its "Return to the UN Bicycle Tour." On the evening of the same day, the Red Camp, i.e., the Chinese Communist Party, launched its Chang'e-1 satellite, which successfully orbited the moon. While political parties on Taiwan were mired in endless national identity struggles, the Chinese mainland's strategic might took a quantum leap.

The Chinese Communist Party succeeded in launching its Chang'e-1 satellite. However it did not characterize it as a "Great Leap Forward" for the military, the way it did for nuclear bombs, incontinental ballistic missiles, and man-made satellites a number of years ago. Now it faces international concerns about the militarization of outer space. Therefore it constantly emphasizes its peaceful uses. To claim that Chang'e-1 has no military function would be a lie. The Chang'e-1's exploration of the moon is a prelude to the construction of a space station. It will be followed by an outer space control center and outer space weapons deployment.

What's noteworthy is not the Chang'e-1's military implications, but the Chinese Communist Party's change in international and cross-Straits strategy. The Chinese Communist Party no longer bluffs and blusters. It now emphasizes the soft power exemplified by its exploration of the moon. This does not mean the Chinese Communist Party no longer values military development. Its military expenditures have increased in double digits for the past 20 years. Obviously it is continuing to develop its military capability, It is merely doing so at a lower key. For example, early this year the Chinese Communist Party successfully test-fired its first antisatellite missile, becoming the third nation besides America and Russia with this capability. Over the course of last year it introduced the J-10 multirole fighter plane, the nuclear powered Type 094 ballistic missile submarine and Type 093 attack submarine, the East Wind 20 medium range ballistic missile and other new weapons. These reveal that the Chinese Communist Party is also increasing its hard power.

By contrast, during this year's National Day celebration, the Democratic Progressive Party government held a troop review that was not a troop review. It showed off the new generation Hsiung Feng HF-3 anti-ship missile and Tien Kung TK-3 surface-to-air missile. It also planned to debut the Hsiung Feng HF-2 cruise missile, but the US expressed concerns and exercised its veto. A few days later word spread of Taipei's intent to develop nuclear weapons. The international media considered these moves toward Taiwan independence by the Democratic Progressive Party as acts of defiance against the Chinese Communist Party. But to everyones' surprise, Hu Jintao not only did not reply in kind, he offered Taipei an olive branch, in the form of a peace agreement. This immediately created the impression that the CCP was pursuing peace, while Taiwan was rattling its sabers. Chen Shui-bian seemed to be making a public declaration that he had decided to rely on military force to promote Taiwan independence.

This sudden contrast left the impression that the Chinese Communist Party was promoting peace and discouraging militarism, that Taiwan was the party escalating the conflict, promoting militarism, and discouraging peace. The Democratic Progressive Party's "troop review that was not a troop review" and the Chinese Communist Party's "Chang'e's Flight to the Moon" make us wonder. Should Taiwan adopt a strategic posture of "Taiwan independence/balance of military terror?" Or should it adopt a strategic posture of "Non Taiwan independence/military assistance?"

If one wants Taiwan independence, one must increase one's military might. About this one need have no doubt. If, on the other hand, one eschews Taiwan independence, then military force can be relegated to a secondary role. About this one also need have no doubt. If one wants to adopt a strategic posture of "Taiwan independence political strategy/balance of military terror," one has two choices: The first is the US's Cold War strategy. Escalate the cost of the Balance of Terror. Bankrupt the Soviet Union by means of arms race. The second is North Korea's current strategy of "nuclear blackmail." Trade peace gestures for international aid and US recognition. But the ROC's wealth is diminishing day by day. It can't even pay for educational reform. Where is it going to find the means to engage in an arms race with the Chinese Communist Party? If it chooses to adopt North Korea's strategy of nuclear brinksmanship, when the US won't even allow the open display of two ballistic missiles, how can it possibly allow Taiwan to develop nuclear weapons?

Besides, due to conflicting views of national identity, troops on Taiwan "don't know whom they're fighting for, or what they're fighting for." Politicians have been shortening soldiers' terms of enlistment in response the public's anti-war psychology. Under such conditions, Taiwan lacks the wherewithal for a military solution. Political infighting in recent years has deeply wounded public morale. This has dealt national defense a grievous blow from which it will not soon recover.

The government on Taiwan cannot possibly carry on an arms race against the Chinese Communist Party. A policy of nuclear confronation would be an unwise move. Taiwan should return to its "seven tenths politics, three tenths military development" cross-Straits policy framework. It should rely primarily upon enlightened policies, and only secondarily on military might. Put plainly, if the government pursues Taiwan independence, it must begin an arms race. Merely playing at Taiwan independence, merely screaming Taiwan independence while not actually implementing Taiwan independence, is highly disadvantageous. By contrast, if one eschews Taiwan independence, one might need to increase one's armaments, but one can at least avoid a suicidal arms race.

Seven tenths politics, and three tenths military development is still the ROC's best strategy for dealing with cross-Straits relations.

2007.10.30 03:54 am










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