ISSUE 53                                                                                   August 20, 2020
Taiwan Weekly
Reliable report and analysis of the most important issues in Taiwan
In This Issue
● This Week in Taiwan: 
Other Important Events This Week


Cross-Strait Relations Delicate as China Intensifies Military Exercises
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and along the northern and southern ends of Taiwan. Fighter jets frequented Taiwan's air space. The image shows Taiwan's F-16 fighter jet intercepting the PLA's 6K jet.
(Photo from: Ministry of National Defense R.O.C)
Featured News

China Holds Military Drills Against Taiwan; Cross-Strait Tensions Resurge

United Daily News, August 14, 2020


The tensions in the Taiwan Strait have recently risen again as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced to hold military drills in the Taiwan Strait including the northern and southern ends of the Strait. This is a rare public announcement of military exercises against Taiwan since the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995 to 1996. The exercises are combined operation comprised of PLA Army, Navy, Air Force and Rocket Force.


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) issued a statement yesterday saying that the armed forces have been monitoring closely the situation in the Taiwan Strait and nearby areas both in the air and at sea and that the situation is currently normal and that the public should not be overly concerned. The MND went on to say that the armed forces have the ability and determination to defend the country's freedom, democracy and sovereignty, and contribute to regional security and stability.

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Featured Opinion
Taiwan has raised awareness in response to China's military intentions. Pictured above is the R.O.C. Armed Forces conducting an anti-landing drill as part of the Han Kuang Exercise.
(Photo from: United Daily News)

China Military Exercise, Replica of 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis?

By Zhao Chun-shan

United Daily News, August 15, 2020


Against the backdrop of increasingly tense U.S.-China and cross-strait relations, China is conducting multi-directional and multi-service combat exercises at the northern and southern ends of the Taiwan Strait. While these military exercises bear close resemblance to the events of the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996, there are some differences worth noting.  


Looking first at the similarities. Both Chinese military exercises were communicated in the name of “anti-independence” and in response to Taiwan’s diplomatic actions relating to the United States. The Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996 was ostensibly a response to the visit to Cornell University by former President Lee Teng-hui, whose speech Beijing felt promoted Taiwan’s independence. To avoid fomenting a climate of support for Taiwan independence so close to Taiwan’s presidential elections, mainland China launched a series of “verbal attacks and military intimidation tactics” against Taiwan. 

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Featured Editorial
In a recent speech, former President Ma Ying-jeou indicated that if mainland China were to invade Taiwan, the "first battle will also be the last battle" will guide Beijing's strategy, and the U.S. military is unlikely to come to Taiwan's rescue.
(Photo from: United Daily News)

First Battle Will Be the Last? Ma May Have Misspoken but Doesn't Mean Tsai is Right

United Daily News Editorial, August 12, 2020


Former President Ma Ying-jeou was invited to the Rotary Club to give a speech on "Cross-Strait Relations and Taiwan’s Security". He pointed out that President Tsai Ing-wen previously stated that if a war broke out between the two sides of the strait, hoped the international community would come to Taiwan's aid; But he said that once Communist China attacks Taiwan, "the first battle will be the last." China will not give the U.S. military a chance to support Taiwan, and "it is almost impossible for American forces to come at the present time." Ma called on Tsai, as a president, she should not tell the compatriots how many days Taiwan could last, instead she should tell the compatriots that she could prevent the war from happening.

These remarks immediately drew a lot of question. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters strongly criticized Ma for "kotowing to China." Ma’s supporters refused to be outdone. They particularly quoted a report from the National Defense Security Research Institute, a think tank of the Ministry of National Defense, which revealed "the first battle be the last." as the pronounced strategy for invasion of Taiwan by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

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Featured Opinion
Former National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi points out that cross-strait relations is nearing the brink of conflict as U.S.-China confrontation escalates.
(Photo from: United Daily News)

Taiwan’s Strategic Shift: From Defensive to Offensive

By Su Chi
United Daily News
, August 15, 2020


The least noticed but most consequential accomplishment of the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen in its first four years is to change Taiwan's strategic role.


Since 1949, Taiwan's strategic role has gone through three stages, from defensive to offensive, from passive to active. The earliest stage was the Cold War. As part of the U.S. containment of Communist China, Taiwan adopted a strategic defensive position very reluctantly. Time and again, it sought to strike the Chinese mainland but each time it was thwarted by the United States.


Taiwan’s democratization ushered in the second stage which coincided with China’s “reform and opening-up.” Due to the shared culture, the same ethnicity and geographical proximity of the two sides of the Strait, Taiwan's economic development and political democratization were found attractive by quite a few people in the mainland. Thus many in the US and Taiwan believed that the mainland could be nudged towards a pluralistic and open society through cross-strait exchanges. The offensive and pro-active nature of Taiwan’s mainland policy at this stage was more pronounced than what was in the previous stage.

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This Week in Taiwan
The U.S. Department of Defense announced a contract related to Taiwan arms sale. The transaction includes 90 units of General Dynamics F-16 fighter jets.
(Photo from: China Times)

August 11: Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar of the United States visited Taiwan for four days from August 9 to 12. He attended a ceremony witnessing the signature of a U.S.-Taiwan memorandum of understanding on health cooperation. When he met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Azar praised Taiwan's epidemic prevention achievements as an example to the world. Azar added that his trip is meant to express President Donald Trump's strong friendship with and support of Taiwan. 

On August 11, Azar visited the Taipei Guest House to pay tribute to the late former President Lee Teng-hui and admitted that he accidentally mispronounced President Tsai's surname. The Central Epidemic Command Center Spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang said that it has verbally expressed Taiwan's demand for vaccines. Azar responded that he will bring the information back to the United States for discussion. 


August 12: In handling the collective corruption case involving several legislators, the prosecution found NT$3 million (about US$102,000) in cash at the residence of New Power Party Chairman Hsu Yung-ming. Hsu claimed that the money was a loan provided by Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung, but Lin has denied lending money. The prosecution suspects that inside information remains to be uncovered and will work to clarify the source of this NT$3 million. 


August 13: In Yunlin, police uncovered the first counterfeit "Triple Stimulus Vouchers" case, arresting five and seizing vouchers amounting NT$2.5 million (about US$85,000). Based on the quantity of print paper found at the site, if the counterfeit vouchers were printed completely, then they may be exchanged for a face value of greater than $370 million (about US$12.5 million). The key to bringing the counterfeit syndicate to justice was a lottery vendor who received the counterfeit vouchers and immediately reported to the police after detecting oddities. The police was able to dismantle the counterfeit syndicate within half a month.


August 13: The Executive Yuan passed draft articles to amend the Civil Code. The government is planning to lower the voting and marriage age to 18 years. The draft bill, which must be sent to the Legislative Yuan for consideration, is expected to take effect in 2023. 


August 15: The Executive Yuan announced the central government budget for 2021. Because Taiwan plans to purchase F-16V Fighting Falcon jets, the national defense budget reached NT$ 395.8 billion (about US$13.4 billion), a historical high. 

The U.S. Department of State approved the sale of 60 F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan last August. After a year, the arms sale contract released by the U.S. Department of Defense on August 14 includes the manufacture of F-16 jets by Lockheed Martin, including Taiwan's order. 

The arms sale this time includes 56 single-seat fighter jets and 10 double-seat fighter jets, amounting to US$8 billion. The order will begin to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2023, and delivery will be complete by the fourth quarter of 2026. 


August 15: The Kaohsiung mayoral by-election was held. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Candidate Chen Chi-mai secured more than 670,000 votes, about 70 percent of the total number of votes. 

In November 2018, Chen lost the Kaohsiung mayoral-election with 740,000 votes to Kuomintang (KMT) Candidate Han Kuo-yu, who garnered 890,000 votes. This June, the citizens of Kaohsiung recalled Mayor Han with 940,000 votes, or 41 percent, and 41.83 percent voter turnout. The by-election on August 15 demonstrates that those who favored recalling Han do not necessarily support Chen. 

By-election KMT Candidate Li Mei-jhen lost with 25.9 percent of the votes, while Taiwan People's Party Candidate Wu Yi-jheng earned only 4.06 percent.

Taiwan Weekly is a newsletter released every week by the Fair Winds Foundation, Association of Foreign Relations, and Taipei Forum which provides coverage and perspectives on the latest developments in Taiwan.

The conclusions and recommendations of any Taiwan Weekly article are solely those of its author(s) and do not reflect the views of the institutions that publish the newsletter.

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