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A SMART Strategy for National Security

icon2008/02/29
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A SMART Strategy for National Security

By Ma Ying-jeou

A Speech before the Association for the Promotion of National Security

Republic of China

February 26, 2008


I am proud to be able to appear before such an esteemed audience. As you all know, Taiwan is Formosa, a beautiful island, but also a small country with limited resources. In planning Taiwan’s national security strategy, we must be both subtle and wise. It is a great shame that in the past eight years of DPP government, Taiwan has not only failed to be more secure, but also become a target of criticism for other countries in East Asia. Embattled Taiwan has become a “troublemaker.”

A responsible national security policy for Taiwan should do more than safeguard national security: it should secure cross-Strait peace, regional stability and a settled and prosperous domestic situation. The governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should learn from Mencius, who taught that small states have to be smart, not impulsive, in dealing with big states, and that big states should be tolerant, not overbearing, in dealing with small states. In fact, to achieve our national security objectives, Taiwan needs to be SMART. The concepts included in this acronym stand for the four pillars of national security that need to be buttressed: national defense, diplomacy, politics, and, culture and the economy.

1) Culture and the Economy

Keywords: soft power and Globalization.

The S in SMART stands for soft power, which is the first pillar of our national security. Cultural and economic power may be relatively “soft,” but cultural and economic security is still important. In the past, over 90% of students at the Taipei American School were foreign citizens, with only a few holding dual citizenship. Today the ratio is reversed, and over 90% of students at the school hold dual citizenship. This shows that under the DPP, many foreign citizens have lost confidence in Taiwan. Foreign business people and foreign residents are leaving en masse. Companies and factories are relocating to Mainland China, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and even India and Australia. In a time of globalization, Taiwan has been hemorrhaging. There’s been a precipitous drop in American residents in Taiwan, from ninety thousand in the year 2000, to only seventy thousand now. It goes without saying they won’t be enrolling their children in school or sending them to university in Taiwan.

I have always believed that Taiwan should be a nice place to live. In the past few years I’ve been to many communities around Taiwan. I’ve stayed the night in the homes of families in these places, and talked to people from all walks of life. Over and over again, I’ve felt that people have lost faith in the government, but they believe the future is full of hope. People still have a sense of the core values that make Taiwan great and unique: cultural accomplishments, a democratic system, a free economy, an open society, and an enthusiastic and friendly disposition. All of these, along with many active civic organizations, are important assets that attract foreigners to Taiwan for residence, education, or business. So I ask you: when Taiwan becomes an East Asian economic and cultural hub, when its major cities become international metropolises, when there are foreign professionals and businesses everywhere, who will say that “globalization” hasn’t been conducive to national security?

2) National Defense

Keyword: Hard ROC

The M in SMART stands for Military Deterrence, and the second pillar of national security is Hard ROC: to defend itself Taiwan has to be hard as a rock. Many members of the DPP elite have said publicly that to deter a Mainland invasion Taiwan should develop the ability to strike at the heart of Mainland China’s military capability. They want “offensive weapons.” We cannot approve of this plan of action. “Offensive defense” is not only infeasible but also dangerous, infeasible because to practice it Taiwan would need to develop weapons with massive destructive power: nothing less would provide effective deterrence. This approach to defense is dangerous because it would invite foreign intervention, or even a preemptive strike by Mainland China.

In contrast to the aggressive, provocative, and destructive strategy of national defense offered by the DPP, we advocate establishing a Hard ROC defensive stance by building an integrated defensive capability that will make it impossible to scare us, blockade us, occupy us, or wear us down. If and when war becomes inevitable, we must capitalize on our advantages —mobility, knowledge of the local terrain, and time — to win the initial victory so as to disrupt the enemy’s command rhythm and turn the tide. We believe that Taiwan’s defensive stance should be to arm and armor ourselves only to the point that the Mainland cannot be sure of being able to launch a “first strike” that would crush our defensive capacity and resolution immediately. If the Mainland lacks confidence in this respect, its strategic calculations will become more complex and difficult, and the temptation to make a surprise attack will diminish. Taiwan’s national security will naturally increase.

In terms of concrete issues, we think the F-16C/D procurement is particularly important. In the 1990s, Taiwan steadily purchased or self-manufactured advanced fighter planes, but for more than ten years now we’ve been stuck with a weak air force. The problem is getting worse and worse. It is imperative to replenish air power by supplementing or replacing existing hardware with newer and more advanced aircraft.

But President Chen Shui-bian’s pernicious use of the “Join the UN under the Name Taiwan” plebiscite has been preventing us from doing so. Last year we submitted several letters of intent to the United States on the matter of F-16C/D fighter procurement. We asked about the price and the possibility of purchase, but every one of these letters was rejected. This is what happens when a party puts its interests first and sacrifices national security. That’s no way to govern a nation.

The KMT has always had a powerful resolve to maintain a strong military. We vigorously supported the F-16C/D procurement bill in the Legislative Yuan. If elected, we will endeavor to persuade the United States to approve this procurement, for we believe that a Taiwan Strait bridged by a balance of power will be a peaceful and stable Taiwan Strait.

In addition, we will strengthen our naval and air bases, specifically runways, aircraft defenses and harbors, to be able to withstand a first wave of Mainland missile and fighter plane attacks. We must also reduce the fragility of our C4ISR system (the concept of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance). Taiwan should also increase its joint and combined combat capability by deploying effective anti-missile and air defense systems in order to control our sea lanes and reinforce the people’s morale. It is obvious that after foregoing the development of irresponsible “offensive weapons,” Taiwan still has many, many defense issues to work on. We also believe that enhancing our defensive deterrence strength, our ability to defend the Strait and safeguard collective security, is the ideal national defense stance for Taiwan. And I am certain those of you in the audience with rich practical experience will be able to suggest the best ways for us to ensure our military security.

3) Politics

Keywords: Assuring the Status Quo, Three Nos Policy

The A in SMART stands for Assuring the Status Quo, a commitment that is elaborated in our Three Nos Policy, which is the third pillar of national security. In the past few years the DPP has deliberately tried to change the status quo, even misrepresenting “Taiwan independence” as “status quo.” The real status quo we will guarantee is clear-cut, that is, our Three Nos Policy. In other words, if elected, I promise to stick to the following during my Presidency: no negotiation of unification with the Mainland, no attempt to pursue de jure independence, and no cross-Strait use of military force. In fact, the KMT, including myself, has been supporting this position all along. This was the foundation for consultation and exchange between the KMT government and the Mainland in the 1990s. Unfortunately, governments on both sides of the Strait have been destroying these Three Nos, and threatening the Status Quo, for the past ten years.

We believe our Three Nos Policy is sure to succeed in Taiwan, because for a long time now, most people in Taiwan have been in favor of assuring the Status Quo, not of unification or independence. The policy is nothing more than a return to the situation before 1995, when we enjoyed an unprecedented combination of rapid economic progress, a high degree of political stability, relatively conciliatory cross-Strait relations, a strong military, and a rising international status.

On the basis of the Three Nos, we will strenuously work to restore dialogue and exchange with the Mianland. We will adopt a pragmatic attitude in resuming dialogue and consultation with Beijing on the basis of the 1992 Consensus, or “one China, different interpretations.” In the 1990s, twenty-four cross-Strait talks were held, but dialogue was interrupted completely in 2000. I advocate a mode of cross-Strait consultation based on principles of “dignity,” “equality,” “reciprocity,” and “finding commonality among differences.” We will demand that the Mainland dismantle missiles aimed at Taiwan, hold military exchanges, and set up a bilateral Military Confidence Building Mechanism. We will also negotiate a cross-Strait “Peace Agreement,” to turn the Taiwan Strait into a prosperous and peaceful non-military zone.

4) Diplomacy

Keywords: Trust Reparation and Military Cooperation

The R in START stands for Restoring Mutual Trust, the fourth and final pillar of national security. We are talking about “diplomatic” security, which should include trust reparation and military cooperation.

In terms of trust reparation, the United States has long been the ROC’s most important diplomatic and military ally. But since the DPP took power, there has been a serious ebb of trust between Taipei and Washington. The DPP’s unending pursuit of de jure independence, name change, authorizing a new Constitution, and the “Joining the UN under the Name Taiwan” plebiscite, among other impractical, unhelpful policies, are indicative of DPP’s election panic and have turned Taiwan into East Asia’s powderkeg.

If elected, my most important task is naturally repairing relations between Taiwan and the United States. And we hope that the Americans will rebuild this relationship based on the Taiwan Relations Act and Reagan’s Six Assurances. We understand that, pragmatically speaking, the United States is our last defense, and we promise Taiwan will bear responsibility for its own self-defense through reasonable procurement of defensive armaments and by never involving the US in an unnecessary conflict. In future, we will not be giving our foreign friends any more “surprises.” Our security, diplomatic and cross-Strait policies are based on mutual trust and esteem. We will also mend relations with our regional neighbors, including members of ASEAN, Japan, and Korea. We will announce to the world that Taiwan will no longer be a trouble-maker but rather a peace-maker. We will actively shoulder our responsibilities and duties as a world citizen.

Last year, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of the US Congress publicly recommended that the US government cooperate with Taiwan on military modernization and joint combat capability. Geopolitically, Taiwan is at the strategic center of the “first island chain.” It holds a key position in the East Asian security arrangement and even international political competition. When friendship between Taiwan and the US is restored, we should deepen military cooperation with the US based on mutual trust. Areas of cooperation will include procurement, combat, and industrial technology. Taiwan has limited resources. We hope that with the help of the US we can speed military modernization and transformation, so that Taiwan can capitalize on its important geopolitical position in Asia-Pacific. This is the only way to make progress on this front and to achieve a “win-win,” mutually beneficial outcome.

Once again, the four pillars of our policy are security in national defense, diplomacy, politics and the cultural-economic sphere. These four concept pillars hold up the final idea in SMART, the T that stands for Taiwan. Compared with Japan, Mainland China, and, on the other side of the Pacific, the United States, Taiwan is a small place. But we can be small and beautiful, strong, and upright. As the ancients said, “Heaven help a man who helps himself” and “a just cause is a popular one.” I believe the international community will welcome the SMART concept, because it will make Taiwan more mature, responsible and democratic, and Taiwan, East Asia, and the entire world more secure, stable and prosperous.

After eight years of DPP “scorched earth” policies, Taiwan desperately needs a new breath of life. It won’t be easy for the new government to found and build these four pillars of national security. Many of you have spent your lives defending our national security. I offer you my profoundest respect. This country is for everyone: Taiwan is our home. After eight years of turmoil, we need your help as we review, reform and restore strategies and systems conducive to Taiwan’s national security. Let’s work together to make it happen.

Thank you.

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