Vol. 2, Issue 16
The Global Taiwan Brief Volume 2, Issue 16
Taiwan’s “Cyber Army” To Become Operational Before End of 2017?
By: Russell Hsiao
Three Myths about US Arms Sales to Taiwan
By: David An
Parsing President Tsai’s Poll Ratings
By: Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao
The Legacy of Chiang Kai-Shek across the Taiwan Strait
By: Arthur Waldron
Taiwan’s “Cyber Army” to Become Operational Before End of 2017?
Russell Hsiao is the Executive Director of the Global Taiwan Institute and the Editor-in-Chief of the Global Taiwan Brief.
Taiwan’s long-awaited “fourth service,” which will operate in the cyber domain, may be launched as early as in three months. According to local media reports, the widely-touted “cyber army” (通資電軍) , which will make its debut in the computer-simulation phase of the military’s 33rd annual Han Kuang Exercise (漢光演習), could be operationalized as soon as in July or at least in the latter half of this year.
While in opposition, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) issued a series of defense papers that proposed to “combine cyber and electronic warfare capabilities present within the civilian sector with existing military capabilities” to make up a “fourth service” on par with the nation’s army, navy and air force. For a political party whose constituency represents more of the “liberal” wing of Taiwanese politics, the defense papers were seen as a demonstration of a future DPP administration’s commitment to defense issues.
Yet, despite the DPP government’s high-level campaign promises to establish a cyber army, there have been few indicators of the program’s existence since President Tsai Ing-wen came into office. Furthermore, the absence of any mention of a cyber army in the administration’s recently released Quadrennial Defense Review has raised some local lawmakers’ concerns about the administration’s commitment to this key element of Taiwan’s defense strategy.
The inclusion of the cyber army in this year’s exercises, however, underscores the important role that it appears to play in current defense thinking and planning. According to a Taiwan defense analyst, Fu S. Mei, the exercise is “intended to reassure Taiwanese people of their democratic but diplomatically isolated island’s defense capability” and “an important venue for understanding Taiwan’s defense capabilities and shifts in strategic thinking thereof.” The Han Kuang exercise, which began in 1984, consists of live-fire trainings conducted by all three armed services. This year’s exercise will be held in the first week of May.
While this is not the first time that cyberattacks were featured as an element in the exercises, the reported feature of the “cyber army” and the apparent centrality of its function in this year’s exercises suggest an elevated operational significance. Over a decade ago, in July 2006, the Ministry of Defense included its “first ever anti-hacker drill” in its Han Kuang-22 exercise, but mainly as “a way of raising awareness of the dangers of careless leaks ‟of classified information via the Internet.”
Another component of the Han Kuang Exercise is as a signal for international cooperation. On a yearly basis, international participants from allied and non-allied countries’ militaries are invited to observe the exercises. While not a diplomatic ally, the United States remains Taiwan’s most critical security partner under the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the United States is obligated to provide defense articles and services to help Taiwan defend itself.
As Taiwan’s primary security partner, the United States has sent observers to the Han Kuang exercises, but they are almost always led by a retired military officer. These delegations are often headed by former senior defense officials, such as former Commander of the Pacific Forces Admiral Dennis Blair. Admiral Blair, who has more recently served as President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, led the delegation in 2006.
Senior officers from the U.S. Pacific Command also reportedly observed the annual Han Kuang exercises in 2005. While there has been media speculation that the US may send an active-duty military officer to lead this year’s exercises, local media confirmed that this year’s delegation will be headed by retired General Edward Rice, Jr. General Rice is the current Commander of the Air Education and Training Command, whose primary mission is to recruit, train and educate Airmen to deliver airpower for America. General Rice more recently served as commander of US Forces Japan, and as Vice Commander of Pacific Air Forces.
A recent report by the Center for New American Security, Phishing in Troubled Waters: Confronting Cyber Espionage Across the Pacific and the Strait of Taiwan, pointed out that “evidence is mounting that Taiwan has long been an important testing ground for Chinese cyber capabilities, with new hacks honed and rehearsed against the island democracy before eventually being turned on the United States.” The report interestingly observed that Chinese cyber operations are beginning to “blur the line between political cyber-espionage, the subversion of digital communications, and commercial cyber-theft.” The report continues, “Chinese cyberwarfare doctrine seems to be further diverging from traditionally Clausewitzian conceptions of clashing capabilities towards hybrid conflicts more commonly associated with recent Russian adventurism in its near abroad.”
Mitigating the challenges posed by Chinese cyber operations and countering a coordinated cyber reconnaissance campaign require reducing the value of information through thoughtful deception, enhanced counterintelligence, and greater cooperation between the United States and Taiwan. The establishment of Taiwan’s “fourth service” could create a good counterpart for such coordination.
The main point: Greater cooperation between the United States and Taiwan can help both to mitigate the challenges posed by Chinese cyber espionage and to counter a coordinated cyber reconnaissance campaign, which require reducing the value of information through thoughtful deception and enhanced counterintelligence. The establishment of Taiwan’s “fourth service” represents a step forward in that direction.
Three Myths about US Arms Sales to Taiwan
David An is a Senior Research Fellow at Global Taiwan Institute, and he was previously a political military officer at the US State Department.
Some politicians in Taiwan believe the reason to purchase weapons from the United States is to “buy insurance” (買保險) in case the island is attacked. Other commentaries assert that the United States demands that its allies raise their military spending to buy more US weapons so as to profit from gaining “protection money” or “extortion fees” and pay down its national debt. The perception that countries should purchase expensive weapons from the United States in order to guarantee that they will be rescued in a conflict is one of three myths in US arms sales to Taiwan that need to be dispelled: 1) US arms sales are an insurance policy; 2) Taiwan pays more than others for US weapons; and 3) the US sells old military equipment to Taiwan.
Taiwan has recently revealed what military capabilities it needs, and there are rumors that the United States is planning a new tranche of arms sale to Taiwan. From what is written in Taiwan’s newly released Quadrennial Defense Review and from what came out during a Legislative Yuan session on March 16 featuring Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬), it seems evident that Taiwan endeavors to acquire or develop fifth generation fighter aircrafts like F-35 with vertical take-off and landing capabilities; to develop indigenous attack submarines; to improve air defense systems with mobile launchers; to upgrade surface naval combatants; to deploy smart sea mines; to create a fleet of UAVs; and to establish a new cyber warfare unit. Therefore, now is the time to find ways to meet Taiwan’s defense needs, and avoid misunderstandings about the Taiwan arms sale situation.
Myth #1: Insurance
Arms sales are not an insurance policy that guarantees the United States will protect Taiwan. On the contrary, the lives and deaths of US soldiers cannot be bought with money. There are geopolitical calculations and national interests at work that determine if the US will enter a foreign conflict.
The closest thing to “insurance”—the idea that there is a guarantee that one country will come to the aid of another country—is a mutual defense treaty alliance, which the US currently has with Japan, South Korea, NATO, and others, but which it ended with Taiwan on January 1, 1979. Therefore, there is no “insurance policy” with Taiwan, and arms sales are no substitute.
This is not to say that the United States would not help Taiwan in the event of an emergency, but it is far from being a quid pro quo exchange for Taiwan to buy US weapons. After all, the US Congress did pass the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) into law as a show of US support for Taiwan in 1979, and President Reagan provided Six Assurances to Taiwan in 1982—both committing the US to providing weapons to Taiwan for the purpose of securing Taiwan’s livelihood and future as mentioned in TRA Sec 2.24 and Sec 3.2, and in the first of the Six Assurances.
Myth #2: Unfairly Expensive
Taiwan does not pay more for the same weapons than other countries pay. Sensationalist news articles in East Asia have mentioned that Taiwan paid more than other countries to buy Apache helicopters, and that Taiwan is the US’ ATM machine. On the contrary, Taiwan goes through the same DoD foreign military sales and State Department direct commercial sales processes as every other country. Since advanced weapons require both high expertise and great secrecy, while also featuring few competitors and almost no redundancy, they therefore demand a high cost. The arms sales market does not follow standard market economics. Arms sales dynamics follow a different logic of monopsonies (as one buyer) in relation to monopolies (as one seller) where the buyer must take into account and cover the seller’s costs. This never happens in the commercial private sector. Therefore, in arms production, costs can change each year, and they depend on economies of scale, which are tied to production costs. The same missile would have a cheaper per unit cost in a year in which 10 countries happen buy 1,000 units combined, and a more expensive per unit cost in another year in which only two countries buy 200 units. Weapons pricing depends more on production costs than on whether or not Taiwan has other buying options
Considering Taiwan’s alternatives, buying weapons from the United States is usually the most attractive option. Since designing advanced weapons requires high expertise, great secrecy (and therefore high costs), Taiwan can either design its own advanced weapons of an uncertain quality at a higher cost (due to lack of economies of scale), buy commercial-off-the-shelf from a foreign country at a cheaper cost and with more assured quality, take some hybrid mix of the previous two options, or not have the capability at all. Comparing these options essentially explains why Taiwan mostly looks to the US.
Myth #3: Only Old Equipment
The United States does not take advantage of Taiwan by selling Taiwan old equipment. National Chengchi University Professor Bernard Lai (賴岳謙) stated that the United States just wants to sell old equipment to Taiwan. PRC media outlets suggest that when Taiwan buys used naval vessels from the United States it is actually buying “scrap metal,” and other reports mention that second hand equipment will not defend against anything. While the United States does transfer some “used equipment,” it is through a special program called Excess Defense Articles (EDA). Everything else the United States sells to Taiwan is new. For EDA, the price is the key, since we are often talking about transferring used equipment at a fraction of the original cost, which is usually around five percent or higher, depending on age and condition. Furthermore, the US government tries to make “hot transfers,” meaning the equipment works well and is not obsolete. With naval vessels, the goal is for the condition to be so good that US sailors can walk off and Taiwan sailors can walk right on.
To be sure, these three arms sales myths are not reported much in mainstream media or in official government statements since they are just that: myths. However, these myths are still representative of what many people in Taiwan think, judging from my conversations with many Taiwanese people and from my review of social media and other local media as cited throughout this article.
The main point: It is important to dispel the three top myths of US arms sales to Taiwan: the false assertion that arms sales are an “insurance policy;” the questionable idea that Taiwan pays more than others for the same weapons; and the incorrect understanding that the US only sells old junk equipment to Taiwan.
Parsing President Tsai’s Poll Ratings
Dr. Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of Sociology in Academia Sinica and Senior Advisor to the President, Taiwan.
Taiwan’s democratic politics are saturated with opinion polls. There are countless polls published on a monthly basis. Distinguishing between the signals they represent and noise can be difficult even for social scientists. Two recent polls, however, warrant special attention and analysis. Both polls were released in late March. One by Formosa Media (FM, 美麗島電子報) was entitled “National Politics in March 2017,” and the other, by the Cross-Strait Policy Association (CSPA, 兩岸政策協會), was entitled “Cross-Strait and Current Issues.” Both organizations’ political leanings fall within the same range on the political spectrum (between pro-green and bi-partisan), so an institutional bias against the current administration is not likely a factor. On balance, the two polls show that the Taiwanese public remains critical of the DPP government’s performance, but still has faith and confidence in President Tsai’s ability to govern.
Low Approval Ratings
In particular, the CSPA poll revealed that 42.5 percent of the people are satisfied with Tsai and 54.1 percent are dissatisfied. In the same poll, 48.5 percent expressed confidence in Tsai, whereas 48.1 percent stated that they lacked confidence in her. The FM poll reflected a more negative picture, with only 29.5 percent satisfied and 58 percent unsatisfied with Tsai. More than half of the people polled expressed their dissatisfaction toward President Tsai’s overall performance, and between 45 percent and 50 percent were not confident in her governing ability. In the FM poll, about 12.5 percent and 14.5 percent chose not to disclose their attitudes either on satisfaction or confidence.
There are no signs as to whether or not President Tsai government’s rating will bounce back in the polls, and should serve as warning signals to both the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Tsai administration. The two polls underscore a trend over the past 10 months that the public’s different political affiliations increasingly determine their assessment of President Tsai’s governance and performance. Indeed, a sign of polarization has been emerging and that is certainly not a welcome social ethos.
The two polls touched upon quite a few cross-Strait issues. The findings are telling with respect to how President Tsai’s China policy has been performing in the public’s eye. In the FM poll, more than half (51.2 percent) of the people polled felt that cross-Strait relations have worsened since President Tsai came into power, but 36.8 percent thought they have remained the same. Not surprisingly, these perceptions divide along party lines. More than half of the DPP supporters and pan-green respondents tended to view that Taiwan-China relations have not changed much between the governments of Tsai and Ma, while more than 80 percent of KMT supporters and the pan-blue camp were more sensitive about the worsening Taiwan-China relations. Among those who believed that cross-Strait relations have worsened, pan-blue and KMT supporters tend to hold the Taiwanese government responsible for the situation, while pan-green and DPP supporters put more blame on the PRC government for making relations worse.
Significantly, the FM poll also discovered once again that 54 percent of the Taiwanese citizens do not accept the so-called “One-China constitution of the Republic of China” that considers mainland China to be part of the ROC, though still close to one third (32.6 percent) accept such a statement. On the other hand, a high 72.5 percent clearly reject China’s claim that Taiwan is a part of the PRC, with 14.2 percent expressing their agreement with the statement. The public’s party lines also contribute to the contradictory assertions above. Ironically, KMT party members and the pan-blue camp tend to be more inclined to accept both the ROC’s “One-China constitution” and the PRC’s “One-China” principle at the same time, in contrast to those DPP and pan-green supporters who tend to reject both.
The CSPA survey also shows that the majority of respondents (77.2 percent) pointed out that since DPP came to power, the PRC has been unfriendly and even hostile toward Taiwan. The Taiwanese citizens polled seem to be fully aware that, from the very beginning, China had no intention to negotiate with Taiwan’s DPP government on an equal footing. Equally important is that close to two-thirds (74 percent) of the people polled have expressed their support of President Tsai’s “maintaining the status quo” approach to dealing with China, and, as a result, nearly 70 percent (69.2 percent) approved of her overall cross-Strait policy. President Tsai and her government have made public that Taiwan’s cross-Strait policy is to forge a relationship with Beijing that is “consistent, predictable, and sustainable.” Interestingly, the poll revealed that 43.3 percent of the people said that President Tsai has demonstrated “just the right amount” of goodwill toward Beijing, followed by 38.1 percent who consider her to be showing “too little” goodwill. 8.5 percent believe she has already shown “too much,” and the remaining 10.1 percent declined to answer.
Significantly, 67.8 percent of the respondents considered Beijing’s insistence on the so-called “1992 Consensus” as a non-negotiable precondition for cross-Strait exchange and dialogue to be unacceptable, while 25.3 percent felt otherwise. Though the above findings have revealed an overwhelmingly positive tendency of the public to back President Tsai’s cross-Strait policy performance, the party line divisions still clearly affect the Taiwanese public’s attitudes toward China and their stance on the government’s China policy. More crucial, however, is that the age and generational differences have been rising significantly. Those under age 40 demonstrated much stronger negative attitudes toward China. If the younger “generation with independence by nature” (天然獨世代) is singled out, their pro-independence, anti-unification, and critical sentiments toward China are even more evident.
There is an obvious contrast between the overall low approval ratings of President Tsai’s performance and the high degree of support for her cross-Strait policy. It may be inferred from these polls that President Tsai’s cross-Strait policy and the current stalemate across the Taiwan Strait are not holding back President Tsai’s public approval ratings. Rather, it is her government’s effectiveness and achievements on domestic policy that have contributed to her low approval rating in the public mind.
The Tsai administration has tried to keep her campaign promises by taking on difficult reforms such as pension reform, action on ill-gotten party assets, transitional justice, high school textbook guideline reform, and judicial reform. Yet, reforms take time to produce social good and beneficial results, inevitably generating public debates and even social conflicts. The rising collective impatience and resentment from the adversaries have produced a general sense of public confusion and even frustration toward President Tsai’s and Premier Lin Chuan’s effective and strong leadership in guiding and achieving reforms. The public supports the DPP administration’s good intentions, but they question if the government has demonstrated the ability and skills to realize all of the necessary reforms. This public uncertainty has, in turn, resulted in the low level of President Tsai’s overall approval rate.
The main point: Two recent polls show that Tsai’s cross-Strait policy and the current stalemate across the Taiwan Strait are not what appear to be contributing to Tsai’s low approval ratings. Rather, it is her government’s effectiveness and achievements on domestic policy that have contributed toward her low approval rating in the public mind.
The Legacy of Chiang Kai-Shek across the Taiwan Strait
Dr. Arthur Waldron, a former resident of Taiwan and a regular visitor, is the Lauder Professor of International Relations at the University of Pennyslvania. Dr. Wadlron is a member of GTI’s Advisory Board.
April 5 marked the 42nd anniversary of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s death. The people of Taiwan are now trying to reconcile with a period in their history spanning over a quarter century under which Chiang and the Kuomintang (KMT) defined the island internationally, while ruling its people absolutely through martial law, imprisonment, executions, and cooperation with criminal gangs. How do they make sense of that period without misrepresenting history or betraying their emotions?
Let us begin not on Taiwan but in China, where Chiang was the unquestioned wartime leader. Why? Because he was the only politician that the Chinese people trusted would never ever surrender to the Japanese. As we know from his diary comments about his only child, Chiang Ching-kuo, he believed that country came even before family. Under his leadership, one hundred Kuomintang divisions with another one hundred patriotic but “associated” divisions, fought the Japanese to a standstill, in eight years of war, which the Japanese had expected would be three months at most.
Before 1989, an informal group of PLA generals gathered—no doubt over baijiu (白酒), the traditional Chinese grain alcohol—to discuss whether Mao or Chiang was a better general. The consensus: Chiang. Chiang had an instinct for timing and identifying the jugular. It worked brilliantly in the Northern Expedition. Had China possessed a navy capable of stopping Japan’s reinforcements at Hangzhou it could have worked at Shanghai too. Instead, the “lost battalion” in the egg warehouses stopped the Japanese until China’s main forces were safely withdrawn. It would also have worked in 1946, had not General George Marshall ordered Chiang to stop, as his blitzkrieg was driving the CCP over the Sungari toward Russia. That order divided the Chinese army, putting the best forces in Manchuria, from which they could have no effect. That, I increasingly believe, was the ballgame.
Chiang feinted to Sichuan, drawing the CCP after him, and then escaped to Taiwan, which he had long been preparing. This is another manifestation of his strongest quality: unwillingness to surrender. Yet, the Taiwanese and the conscripted KMT troops, sent away from home and their families for the rest of their lives, were two very different groups of people. Chiang and his generals lied and behaved duplicitously, in a way that is as shocking today as it was then, firing on their own people and killing thousands if not more. The 2-28 incident and subsequent campaigns, not to mention the killing and arrests that went on for over three decades, were a defining shock for the Taiwanese.
The 2-28 incident poisoned ethnic relations and continues to do so today even though many of the participants are gone. Taiwan is now a democracy, rated ahead of the United States by Freedom House, in its latest global ranking. An entirely new generation, born after 1948, is in charge. But what to do with the anger, which only begets anger as more becomes known?
The impulse, of course, is to negate the whole KMT period; to somehow erase it. As a historian, though, I would affirm strongly that history cannot be erased. In the USSR almost all the Lenin statues are stored in a museum on the edge of Moscow with all sorts of other curious Communist artifacts. But a few remain—intentionally. In front of the KGB headquarters where one “Iron Feliks” Dzershinsky sat, arms raised (and regularly painted red to the elbows by dissident Muscovites), there is now a small memorial to the millions killed by the KGB. Russia is of course not remotely a democracy, but they face similar dilemmas dealing with the Communist period.
First, history should not be erased. I was very impressed at the historical preservation of works of the Chiang era in Matsu (馬祖). It is an island-wide museum, almost unintelligible to the rising generation, but of great importance. It will gradually and naturally be reduced over time, but like it or not, Chiang and his son were the key figures in the making of today’s Taiwan.
Second, recall that on January 12, 1950, at his famous National Press Club conference, Secretary of State Dean Acheson explicitly excluded South Korea from the United States’ Asian defense perimeter. That, along with some other things, got us the Korean War. Less often recalled is that Acheson also excluded Taiwan. The US government’s operating consensus was that the People’s Republic of China (PRC), having conquered 3.7 million miles of China, would soon make short work of Taiwan’s not quite 14,000 square miles. No one cared. Mao was glorified; Taiwan or Formosa was unknown. In scholarship, Chiang was uniformly excoriated. No serious biography existed until Jay Taylor did the job with The Generalissimo in 2011.
Third, the foreign policy consensus in the United States was absolutely anti-Chiang. In the late 1970s John K. Fairbank, told me that without the skilled people who came with Chiang Kai-shek they would have been finished. A grain of truth lies here: Taiwan today is not a forgotten province of the PRC because for one reason: Chiang Kai-shek. His mainland troops crushed Mao at Guningtou (古寧頭) in 1949. That gave Mao second thoughts. Chiang’s network in the “Old” China Lobby made certain the United States supported him. This fact washes away none of the evil he perpetrated, but nonetheless must never be forgotten.
As for China today, the intellectuals there know that the KMT and its allies halted the Japanese while Mao chased Jiang Qing around the table in Yan’an. A wave of new publications demonstrates this fact. What is more, soon we are likely to have the explosive information that after 1940 Mao used 1,000 agents to contact the Japanese, selling secret Chinese war plans (he was in the United Front) to them for money. There is no question that in China, Chiang’s reputation is being re-evaluated in a positive way. In Taiwan, by contrast, as more becomes known in this free country, Chiang’s crimes have become the focus. However, just how Taiwan came to be independent and remain so is not examined closely enough.
Now, the task of thoughtful Taiwanese—who have already created a new country, forging a new identity, and a new present—is to do the hard intellectual work of reconciling faithfully with its past. It should above all be comprehensive and totally accurate: no fantasies, no impossible counter-factuals, no dreams. It must be balanced and realistic. Finally, it must soothe the wounds with an honest acknowledgement of the truth, which is the only balm.
The wounds will heal gradually with time. Indeed, they are healing now. The legacy of the Chiang family and their genuine contributions to modern Taiwan must be borne in mind. Certainly much can be pruned—but not all. So, too, the anger of the brave Taiwanese who opposed them must be remembered, as well as those within the United States and in China, who, in 1979, were convinced they had destroyed Taiwan forever.
The main point: In 1950 only two choices existed for Taiwan: Mao or Chiang? An important legacy of Chiang Kai-shek is that he spared Taiwan the horrors of Mao’s rule. In spite of KMT dictatorship and crimes, the descendants of Chiang and the brave Taiwanese have created a flourishing modern democracy. Reconciling these two phases demands absolute honesty and fairness, not to mention a fair dose of human and historical
 Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo’s Son (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Belknap Press, 2000), 74.
 Taken from author’s personal talks, while visiting the PRC.
 Hsu Long-hsuen and Chiang Ming-kai, History of the Sino-Japanese War (Taipei: Chung Wu, 1972), 209; author’s visits to site and egg warehouses.
 Taylor, The Generalissimo’s Son, 184-185
 Chinese books now document many battles. On Mao’s collaboration see Homare Endo (遠藤 譽), 毛澤東勾結日本的真相 (Tokyo: Mirror Books), 2016. Endo’s is a commercial book. A definitive and fully sourced English academic edition is in near final manuscript and will be published as soon as possible. Professor Endo, who grew up in postwar China, is a respected mainstream scholar and has regularly been a visiting fellow at Chinese institutions. Some CCP officials, with knowledge of these events, have read the Chinese book cited and confirmed her findings.