Vol. 1 Issue 5
Global Taiwan Brief – Volume 1, Issue 5
Taiwan Reportedly Plans to Upgrade Hsiung Feng III Missiles
By: Russell Hsiao
India’s Perspective on cross-Strait Relations
By: Vijay Sakhuja
Taiwan’s Pivot: “New Southbound Policy” (Part 1)
By: Alan H. Yang
The Human Cost of the “White Terror”
By: Stephen M. Young
Taiwan Reportedly Plans to Upgrade Hsiung Feng III Missiles
Russell Hsiao is the Executive Director of the Global Taiwan Institute and Chief Editor of the Global Taiwan Brief.
Against the backdrop of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military modernization and growing precision strike capabilities, some media reports indicate that Taipei may have plans to produce 10 to 60 Hsiung Feng III (HF-3; 雄風三型, “Brave Wind III”) supersonic missiles with a range above 162 nautical miles under projects codenamed “God’s Spear” (神戈計劃) and “Coiled Dragon” (蟠龍計畫), respectively.
According to the media, an “HF-3 extended range model missile” (雄三增程型飛彈) project may be in the works and a testing phase is slated for completion by the middle of 2017, to enter mass production in 2018. The missiles could be deployed in the mountainous ranges surrounding Taipei with a range span covering the entire Taiwan Strait.
Plans to upgrade the capabilities of the Hsiung Feng missile systems were reportedly scrapped at the outset of the first Ma Ying-jeou administration (2008-12), which pursued a policy of rapprochement with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Su Chi (蘇起), who served as Ma’s first National Security Council Secretary-General, led the charge to discontinue the missile systems range-extension program.
However, Taiwan continued the production of shorter-range HF-3 missiles capable of maritime interdiction and of striking coastal-military installments, but ostensibly ceased any follow-on research to develop missiles that would have extended range. Yet, there were reports that the missile range extension program may have been resuscitated as early as 2014.
In recent years, the Asia-Pacific theatre has experienced a dramatic transformation as militaries across the region develop more advanced military technologies such as hypersonic missiles. These missiles can travel more than five times the speed of sound and are capable of striking time-critical targets at long range much more quickly. The current deployed HF-3 is reportedly capable of speeds of up to Mach 2.5-3.
In April 2016, the PLA successfully tested its new high-speed maneuvering warhead DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle. According to experts, “[China’s] hypersonic glide vehicles could reach Mach 12 speeds of up to 9,127 miles per hour, potentially compromising a U.S. missile defense.” Weapon platforms such as the YJ-12 supersonic ASM and CM-400AKG hypersonic air-to-surface missile further complicate Taiwan’s defense. Indeed, such capabilities could provide the PLA with greater strategic depth in a Taiwan contingency, or other scenarios that may involve the U.S. military.
Recent speculations about the missile extension program signal a contrast between the Tsai administration’s approach and the previous Ma government in dealing with the PLA threat, as the latter was criticized for not investing enough in the military. While the previous administration relied upon political talks to offset the military threat, the new administration appears to be more determined to directly counter the PLA’s military advances.
Despite the clear overtures made by the Ma administration, the PLA continued to develop its ability to invade Taiwan and to enhance its coercive capabilities for use against the island. As the U.S. Defense Department’s Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2016 explicitly states:
China’s multi-decade military modernization effort has eroded or negated many of Taiwan’s historical advantages in deterring PLA aggression, such as the PLA’s inability to project sufficient power across the Taiwan Strait, the Taiwan military’s technological superiority, and the inherent geographic advantages of island defense.
In late August, a media outlet also reported that Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST, 中山科學研究院) was preparing to submit a project proposal to deploy a new generation of long range HF-3 missiles in 3 to 5 years. It is not clear whether the plan has been approved by President Tsai Ing-wen.
While, in the past, the U.S. government has expressed reservations about some of Taiwan’s missile programs, due their perceived “offensive” capabilities—such as in the case of HF-2E—these concerns have been relatively quiet against the backdrop of the PLA’s rampant military modernization.
Whether the U.S. government may be toning down its opposition to Taiwan’s missile programs remains to be seen. At the very least, the relative quiet perhaps signals a change in Washington’s perception of the nature of these extended range coastal defense weapons, and their importance to countering the shifting military balance of the Taiwan Strait.
The main point: Taiwan may be considering an upgrade to the HF-3, and Washington’s attitude towards the nature of “defensive” weapons seems to be changing. Both developments are due in part to the urgency of countering the shift in the military balance within the Taiwan Strait.
India’s Perspective on cross-Strait Relations
Dr. Vijay Sakhuja is Director, National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. Sakhuja is author of ‘Asian Maritime Power in the 21st Century’ and co-author of ‘Climate Change and the Bay of Bengal’.
India’s approach to relations between Taiwan and China in the past was driven by political correctness and economic pragmatism. New Delhi consistently adhered to the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s interpretation of the “One China” policy, which recognizes Tibet and Taiwan as integral parts of the PRC, and did not establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan (ROC). However, the moratorium on political interactions did not preclude India and Taiwan from pursuing economic engagements through trade, while people-to people contacts have facilitated social interactions, and Buddhism has been a driver for cultural exchanges.
Over the years, India’s economic and socio-cultural contacts with Taiwan expanded, leading to the establishment of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in 1995 at New Delhi and the India Taipei Association (ITA) in Taiwan in the same year. Due to their unofficial function, the PRC was quite amenable to this arrangement and there were no major issues over Taiwan between India and the PRC that disturbed the status quo.
However, in 2010, the Congress-led Indian government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh adopted a tough stance against the PRC and did a volte-face on its earlier “One-China” policy; a reference to “One-China” was removed from the joint statement issued during the visit of former premier Wen Jiabao to New Delhi. This was partly due to a number of contentious bilateral issues, such as issuing stapled visas to Indians from Arunachal Pradesh, infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the slow pace of settlement of the boundary dispute by the Chinese, a growing China-Pakistan political and strategic nexus, including nuclear cooperation, and non-recognition of Arunachala Pradesh by China as an integral part of India.
The current government in New Delhi led by Mr. Narendra Modi has also taken a tough stand. Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj observed that if China expects India to agree to a “One-China” policy, then Beijing should reaffirm “One-India” keeping in mind India’s “sensitivities regarding Arunachal Pradesh.”
India’s diplomatic activism towards Taiwan is a major shift and a congratulatory tweet to President Tsai Ing-wen from Baratiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary Ram Madhav on social media stating “First woman President elected. DPP is anti-merger Party” was indeed the first sign of the ruling party’s overt expression of India-Taiwan friendship. Taiwan’s Representative in India, Tien Chung-Kwang (田中光), was quick to capitalize on the tweet and encouraged India to send a minister-level delegation to Taipei for President Tsai’s swearing-in ceremony, which, he believed, would be in “keeping with India’s Act East Policy” and would also “send [the] right signal in the region.”
Previously, India seized the opportunity to invite Taiwan’s former Foreign Minister and current Chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂), to New Delhi to participate in the Raisina Dialogue organized by the Indian government. This caused enormous discomfort among the PRC Embassy officials who protested Tien’s presence at the event where the PRC was represented by former Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. In 2006, PRC Ambassador to New Delhi, Sun Yuxi, had warned that, “We believe that India would honour its commitments on the Taiwan question and refrain from sending any wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.”
Soon after taking office, President Tsai Ing-wen announced her government’s “new Southbound Policy,” which aims to deepen relations with ASEAN countries and India to move away from overreliance on the PRC, which absorbs nearly 40 percent of the country’s exports. The ROC is conscious that some of the ASEAN countries may be constrained in their engagement due to pressures from the PRC, whereas India would be a reliable trading partner, besides being an attractive market. Bilateral trade between India and Taiwan has grown nearly five-fold from US $1.19 billion in 2001 to US $5 billion in 2015. Both countries also hold annual bilateral economic consultations and Taiwan is keen to support several Indian initiatives announced by Prime Minister Modi such as the Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, and Startup India initiatives.
The above narrative clearly showcases New Delhi’s approach towards cross-Strait political dynamics and it would be very keen to capitalize on the new political dispensation in Taipei. There are at least five important reasons that encourage India to engage Taiwan at the strategic and political levels.
First, India wants the PRC to understand its sensitivities with regard to making reference to Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed area, which is currently under India’s control and designated as a state by the Indian Parliament. Its engagement with Taiwan is a useful diplomatic initiative to counter the PRC and it may also invoke the Tibet issue at an opportune moment.
Second, India sees an opportunity in engaging Taiwan to help it counter the China-Pakistan nexus, including both China’s overt support to Pakistan’s nuclear program and tacit support to Islamabad, which ferments trouble in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir. India feels justified in beginning to engage Taiwan at the political levels as a pressure point for PRC.
Third, Indian concerns over Chinese naval developments, particularly the presence of submarines in the Indian Ocean, merit a dialogue between the Indian and ROC navies to share strategic information about PLA Navy deployments.
Fourth, at the geopolitical level, the ROC is a close partner of the United States and its ability to defend itself against aggressors is protected by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. The PRC is wary of the growing ties between India and the United States, and any U.S.-India-Taiwan relationship would not be in the interest of the PRC because it would effectively be contained by the Indian Pacific.
Fifth, it is useful to mention that India, Taiwan, and the United States are more natural partners due to their shared values and practice of democracy.
India’s Taiwan policy is undergoing a change and the political elite in New Delhi increasingly see the island as an important economic and political partner. The PRC has to understand that a rising India is exploring newer partners and could readily switch its interpretation of the “One-China” policy to reflect a new India-Taiwan partnership.
The main point: India’s Taiwan policy is undergoing a change and the political elite in New Delhi increasingly see the island as an important economic and political partner.
Taiwan’s Pivot: “New Southbound Policy” (Part 1)
Dr. Alan Yang is the Executive Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies Associate Professor, and Associate Research Fellow at the Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies and Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University in Taiwan.
During Taiwan’s presidential election campaign in 2015-16, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) proposed the “New Southbound Policy” (新南向政策) as an initiative to deepen the linkage among industries and societies of Taiwan and Southeast Asia. The goal of its New Southbound Policy is to amplify the exchange and intensify the collaboration between both Taiwan and countries in the region. Since the DPP won the presidential election in January 2016, the Tsai administration has highlighted the policy’s strategic imperative.
Right from President Tsai Ing-Wen’s inauguration on May 20th, perception of and concern with Southeast Asia among public sectors, private enterprises, and civil society organizations in Taiwan have been elevated. A new task force in charge of Southeast Asian policy consultation, innovation and coordination called the New Southbound Office (新南向辦公室) was established within the Office of the President (總統府).
The guidelines for the New Southbound Policy (南向政策綱領), which outline short to long-term goals was adopted during a meeting on international economic and trade strategies convened by President Tsai on August 16th. Shortly afterward, on September 5th, the Executive Yuan (行政院) announced its New Southbound Policy Promotion Plan (新南向政策推動計畫). The plan declared, among other things, “long-term cultivation, diverse exploration, and mutual reciprocity” as the core principles of the new administration’s engagement strategy with Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the plan emphasizes that Taiwan should begin with the issue-areas of economic and trade cooperation, exchange of young talent, resource sharing and intra-regional connectedness.
Increasing numbers of ministries and local governments have already embarked on enhancing awareness of Southeast Asia, and these policies are reinforced by the New Southbound Policy. Indeed, President Tsai’s New Southbound Policy is essentially different from that of President Lee Teng-Hui in the 1990s. The difference is characterized by the former being a more pragmatic and comprehensive way of building all-around connection between Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, the new policy is based upon a people-centered appeal and two-way exchange. The policy would stimulate Taiwan’s overall engagement in Southeast Asia by meeting the development and social needs of Southeast Asian localities, strengthening people-to-people connections with Southeast Asian societies in the hope of becoming part of the regional community.
Relocating Taiwan in Southeast Asia
Geographically, Taiwan is an offshore island of the Asian continent barred by the Taiwan Strait. The distance and barriers indirectly contribute to the isolated-island attitude found deep in local society.
The general public has not been very keen on Asian affairs, let alone politically aware that Taiwan is a part of the region. Over the decades, Taiwanese people generally paid more attention to the politically constrained cross-Strait relations, worrying about the negative impact of China’s influence on Taiwanese society, markets and industries. Overreliance on China has prevented Taiwan from engaging with other interested parties and surrounding stakeholders, even missing the prime time for participating in regional integration.
So, the advancement of the New Southbound Policy is not merely a unilateral declaration of external economic strategy, but is an opportunity for self-transformation.
With regard to Taiwan’s regional identity, the implementation of the New Southbound Policy reflects an effort to transform Taiwanese consciousness from a closed society on an isolated island in Asia into a society willing to open up its arms and further integrate with its neighbors.
With increased attention and support directed by Asia-Pacific powers towards the ASEAN Community and ASEAN centrality, Taiwan must determine how to substantially take part in the regional community by utilizing its advantages.
Furthermore, from the perspective of national development, the New Southbound Deal is also a magnificent governmental re-invention project of domestic reform and transformation. The Taiwanese business network has been long developed and rooted in Southeast Asia. In Taiwan, tens of thousands of New Taiwanese (新住民) and migrant workers from Southeast Asia have long ago become a part of the country, demonstrating existing transnational linkages between Taiwan and Southeast Asia. As a result, social welfare and rights for Southeast Asian communities in Taiwan, as well as the social promotion for Southeast Asian awareness are pivotal elements of Taiwan’s reformation and transformation from the bottom up. Particularly considering the New Southbound Policy Promotion Plan of the Executive Yuan, it is apparent that the two-way interaction with and cultivation of young talents, next generation leaders, and human resources are being strategically highlighted. The leaders of tomorrow will be deeply invested in bringing forth a genuine shared community between Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
These plans and schemes did not merely appear out of thin air. Instead, they are undoubtedly refinements of the continuing efforts of Taiwanese governments and administrations, whether KMT or DPP. By redefining Taiwan’s capacity, mission and contribution, through the process of resource-sharing and recognition of shared values, Taiwan is surely capable of showing itself to be a good regional citizen.
The main point: Taiwan’s pivot to Southeast Asia demonstrates the island’s determination to take part in the current regional process of ASEAN-centered integration. In addition to state-led efforts and initiatives, the natural social connectedness shaped by the ASEAN diaspora in Taiwan and the Taiwanese presence in Southeast is the key to the success of the New Southbound Deal.
The Human Cost of the “White Terror”
Stephen Young had a 33 year career as an American diplomat, during which he served as Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, and Consul General to Hong Kong. He is currently retired and living in New Hampshire. He lived in Taiwan a total of eleven years, including two years as a teenager in Kaohsiung in the early 1960’s, when his father was posted there as a military advisor to the Taiwan Army. Ambassador Young is a member of GTI’s Advisory Board.
(This brief story dates from the author’s tour as a consular officer in AIT over 30 years ago, and represents his personal account of a Taiwanese man’s suffering under the “White Terror,” which highlights the terrible price one man paid during that era in Taiwan politics.)
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)—during her inauguration speech on May 20— announced a plan to “establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (真相與和解委員會) inside the Presidential Office,” which would “address the historical past in the most sincere and cautious manner. The goal of transitional justice is to pursue true social reconciliation, so that all Taiwanese can take to heart the mistakes of that era.”
Discussion of the need for reconciliation on the part of the people and government of Taiwan for the “White Terror” of the late forties and early fifties underscores the lasting damage, in both political and personal terms, done by Chiang Kai-shek’s draconian policies in the first years after he retreated to the island from the Chinese mainland.
As I follow recent discussion within Taiwan of efforts toward reconciliation, concerning the “White Terror” inflicted upon so many Taiwan citizens in the early 1950’s, an incident comes to mind from 35 years ago, when I was a young consular officer at the AIT, in Taipei. This was the newly opened, unofficial office of the US Government to manage relations with Taipei following Washington’s de-recognition of the Republic of China (ROC).
I was working in AIT’s immigration unit, assessing the merits of Taiwan citizens applying to immigrate to the United States, when a strange case landed on my desk. It was the application of an older Taiwanese man seeking to immigrate to America, in order to join a family member already living in the United States. He struck me as a simple, pleasant fellow, anxious to do whatever was necessary to acquire a visa.
As a standard part of the process, the applicant was asked on his form if he had ever committed a crime. When he checked the box in the affirmative, we asked him to return with a transcript of his case, so we could determine if the crime was significant enough to warrant rejection of his case.
When the gentleman returned with the requested materials, along with a copy translated into English, I was shocked to learn that he had spent nearly 20 years in prison, convicted by a martial law court on a charge of treason. The transcript covered a case involving several neighbors in a village just outside of Taipei, who were accused of plotting a rebellion against the KMT government. It spoke of a secret circle of conspirators who intended to rise up against the ROC Government, with allegations of a secret cache of weapons hidden on Yangmingshan (陽明山 or Grass Mountain).
I asked the man what this was all about. He described how he and a number of old friends used to regularly gather at a local tea shop to drink tea and chat in the evenings and weekends after work. One day they were all rounded up by the police and charged with fomenting rebellion. The court record he brought in lacked much real evidence other than hearsay, but the military court quickly found all the defendants guilty.
Several were condemned to death and shot; the man I was interviewing was sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was commuted in the late sixties to time served, and he was released after being locked up for nearly 20 years.
I asked him if there was any substance to the charges. He denied that there was anything other than friendly chatter about everyday matters. The applicant persisted in saying he had no idea what had caused the Chiang Kai-shek government to arrest him and his friends. Throughout our discussions, I was struck by the simple and straightforward manner in which he described this terrible miscarriage of justice, which had extracted such a heavy price from him and his friends.
Based upon my understanding of the historical circumstances, with the KMT government having just retreated from the mainland and launching a campaign to eradicate any dissent—real or apparent—toward their rule, I sent the case to Washington. I included my recommendation that we waive the visa ineligibility and issue the man a visa to immigrate to the United States.
Shortly thereafter Washington approved my recommendation. I was able to provide this old gentleman the papers allowing him to join his children in the United States. I hope he lived a long and happy life. But as I ponder the whole question of reconciliation in 21st century Taiwan, I am reminded of the human cost the early paranoia of Chiang Kai-shek and his government exacted from so many citizens of Taiwan, over 60 years ago.