From 'porcupine' to 'hog': Han Kuang exercises expose DPP's real capability: Global Times editorial
Published: May 17, 2022 12:59 AM
Tsai Ing-wen Photo:AFP

Tsai Ing-wen Photo:AFP

The 38th Han Kuang exercise on the island of Taiwan started on Monday. The exercise this year will be conducted in two parts: the simulation portion will last five days until May 20 and live-fire exercises in July. The island's defense authorities said this year's simulations will be map-based rather than conducted on a computer because of "scenarios drawn from the Russia-Ukraine war." During the exercise, the armed forces on the island will have detailed face-to-face discussions on warfare tactics, according to local media report. Some from the island's armed forces hinted the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) always won in previous simulations on a computer but now they have studied tactics so that it is not impossible for them to win in the real war.

As a routine annual highlight of Taiwan's armed forces, the Han Kuang exercise was once highly evaluated. But with growing gap in strength between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, the military effect of the exercise is diminishing and it is becoming more and more of a political show. To the embarrassment of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities, even the theatrics are often botched. Accidents such as plane crashes, shipwrecks and submerged tanks have repeatedly threatened the safety of the island's regional leaders. Last year, even the command center caught fire. It can be said that "there are more accidents than the number of exercises" has become a common impression of the Han Kuang exercise.

According to Taiwan military sources, since the map-based simulation is a study, there will be no victory or defeat; unlike all previous computer simulations that ended up with victory for the PLA. It seems that the computer is not smart enough and does not know how to speculate and cater to the real intentions of the Taiwan armed force and the DPP authority. The confidence of the people on the island in the "defense capability" of the Taiwan armed forces has already fallen to the bottom. It would backfire if the simulation fails to embolden the public and instead pierces the bubble that the DPP authorities bragged about using big money.

 The DPP authorities have tried their best to avoid such a "bad" outcome. But who can be fooled by this self-deception?

Just like a political catwalk runway set up by the camouflage cloth, the Han Kuang exercise is performed for the people on the island on the one hand, so that some new words could be created to fool the people. But on the other hand, it is staged for countries such as the US and Japan. The pathetic performance of "fighting to the end" aims to beg for alms from external forces.

This year, the Han Kuang exercise is trying to take advantage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Taiwan armed forces claimed that one of the key points of this year's live-fire exercise is "annihilating the enemy in the position," which is simulating the battles in urban areas. This is obviously different from the previous "annihilating the enemy on the shore." It is not difficult to see the "reference" taken from the Russia-Ukraine war. The DPP authorities have repeated utilized the Ukraine crisis. Such sentimental moves are similar to the Han Kuang exercise, showing how low the DPP can be to make a fool of itself. Apart from anything else, the performance of the Taiwan armed forces in the exercises is so bad, what can people expect from them on the battlefield?

To the people on the Taiwan island, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has a more important role, which is to let them realize how unreliable the US is. According to a poll released by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation on April 26, up to 54 percent of the people on the island do not believe that the US will send troops to "help defend Taiwan" if war breaks out across the Straits. Before the Russia-Ukraine conflict, more than 60 percent of people on the island believed that the US military would do so. You Ying-lung, chairman of the foundation, commented on this "dramatic change" that a majority of Taiwan people had their confidence collapsed in the US assisting the defense of Taiwan.

The US raised the "porcupine strategy" around 2008 with the idea to arm Taiwan into a "porcupine with thorns all over its body." DPP authorities probably have been made to believe that Taiwan really has "tough thorns." But multiple Han Kuang exercises have kept exposing its real capability. What Washington wants is nothing but a fat hog that can sell for a good price.