Taiwan should give up missile illusion

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/9/20 23:43:39

An exclusive report in Taiwan's China Times revealed that Taiwan has decided to terminate efforts to develop a medium-range surface-to-surface guided missile capable of hitting Beijing and Shanghai.

The report cited three reasons behind the decision of the administration of Tsai Ing-wen. One is the need to adjust its military strategy. Second, Taiwan is not developing nuclear weapons. Even if the missile can reach Shanghai and Beijing, it would not change the overall situation. Meanwhile, the Hsiungfeng 2E cruise missile can effectively cope with the mainland's coastal military targets. Citing Taiwan official sources, the report said the decision is a goodwill gesture toward the mainland.

The Taiwan authorities have dismissed the report. It is unknown whether the report is based on hearsay or evidence. In the early years, Taiwan viewed the ability to "counterattack the mainland" as the core of its military strategy, which turned out to be an illusion. During the Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian era, Taiwan adopted the policy of "effective deterrence" toward the mainland and aimed at striking a military balance with the mainland.

Later on, with the mainland swiftly developing its military strength, Taiwan's building of its "national" defense lost its meaning. The decision of Tsai and her administration to abandon the missile project can be seen as their recognition of the relative strengths of the mainland and Taiwan.

However, showing goodwill to the mainland is far from the basic policy of the Tsai administration. The primary reason behind this decision probably lies in a lack of finance. The annual defense budget of Taiwan is only about $10 billion, and it would be unrealistic to count on it to develop a deterrence against the mainland.

No matter the report is true or not, it makes more people realize that the mainland has seized the dominance of cross-Straits ties and is capable of safeguarding national unity by force when necessary. The Democratic Progressive Party highly expects the US to provide shelter for Taiwan. But with China's military capability effectively covering the offshore areas, how could Washington take the risk of putting "Taiwan independence" under its wing which it has publicly opposed?

Over the past few years, the mainland has shown true strategic goodwill and patience. It did not put its ultimate goal of "peaceful reunification" on the tip of tongue. Rather, it has been trying to improve cross-Straits ties by adopting a series of policies favorable to Taiwan. However, the "Taiwan independence" forces have posed a long-term threat to the stability of the Taiwan Straits.

The Tsai administration refuses to admit the 1992 Consensus, taking a big step backward in cross-Straits relations. If political tensions remain high across the Straits, even exchanges of fire by automatic rifles, not to mention missiles, can take the situation out of control. Now the "Taiwan independence" forces are making a fuss by trying to change the name of commonly used "Chinese Taipei" and join the United Nations. Both are political provocations. The security of Taiwan depends on the collective soberness within the island. It should keep up with the times.

Posted in: Editorial

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