Editorial Notes

Taiwan's security problem must be resolved politically: The China Post

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaking during an interview.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaking during an interview.PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial on Dec 21, the paper examines the current friction in US-China-Taiwan ties and asks President Tsai Ing-wen to reconsider her China policy.

The military power balance across the Taiwan Strait has been tipped sharply in favour of the People's Republic of China over the past couple of years.

No Chinese Communist military aircraft dared venture out of shore after the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1958.

Years later, they came out and then started patrolling on their side of the middle line in the strait.

Now, they are flying past the line on patrol missions around Taiwan.

Last Saturday, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) even posted a photo on its microblog allegedly showing a Xian H-6K jet bomber flying within visible range of Jade Mountain or Mount Morrison, which was known as Niitakayama, while Taiwan was a Japanese colony.

It isn't a kind of inspection by the Goddess of the Seas of her domain, which is a popular annual event of Taiwan's Matsu worshippers.

It concerns the strategic interaction among Taiwan, Japan and the United States.

Assigned to the patrol are combat-control electronic aircraft, bombers and Russian-made Sukhoi fighters.

The PLAAF has more than enough combat power to attack Taiwan.

It's not just a prophetic warning but a serious challenge to the joint containment of China by the United States, Japan and Taiwan as well.

If the number of intruding Chinese warplanes is 10 or 20 times as large, Taiwan will completely lose its defensive air supremacy.

In modern warfare, air supremacy is the key to victory.

Should the Chinese have it, their warplanes could attack Taiwan from all sides.

Moreover, their warplanes are ones of the advanced second-and-a-half to third generation, which are much better than what Taiwan has, while greatly outnumbering those older ones of ours.

The result is clear: We would be bound to lose air battles, large or small.

That means Taiwan's army and navy would fall like dominos in no time if war were to break out across the Strait.

Can Taiwan make warplanes and warships to tip the balance of power in its favour?

It's a dream that won't ever come true.

Can we buy fourth generation fighter aircrafts like F-22s or F-35s from Uncle Sam?

Any one of them cost US$350 million (S$505.36 million), and we don't have that much money to buy just a couple of squadrons of them.

Even if we could, Washington wouldn't sell them to us anyway.

If hostilities broke out, would the United States and Japan come to help us defend our homeland? No way.

After World War II, the world powers in possession of nuclear weapons averted direct war against each other.

Therefore, Taiwan's security problem must now be solved politically rather than by force of arms.

Small countries are always sacrificed in gambles between world powers.

Local wars in the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe were almost all machinated by Uncle Sam, who in the end sacrificed small countries.

So, small countries that are mere chess pawns should beware.

President-elect Donald Trump of the United States accepted a direct phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen on Dec. 2.

He killed five birds with one stone. Those birds are: successfully testing Beijing's reaction, increasing weapons and equipment sales to Taiwan, encouraging the Taiwan independence movement, getting Taiwan to be part of the first island chain in the containment of the People's Republic and solidifying Taiwan's place as a bargaining chip in Sino-American economic negotiations.

What will Taiwan get in exchange?

No matter how much money we may spend, we can't buy our national security.

Nor can Taiwan sign a mutual defence treaty with the United States.

The benefit we receive from cross-strait trade will be much less than that from Taiwan-U.S. trade.

We may be sacrificed like a lowly pawn on the chessboard sooner or later.

Populists in mainland China blast Taiwan for charming Japan.

Chinese tourists are coming in ever-shrinking numbers.

Taiwan businessmen are required to announce their opposition to Taiwan independence.

Moreover, Beijing has adopted a policy to starve and impoverish Taiwan. It will lose its diplomatic allies.

The net result will be a Taiwan in inevitable pinching poverty.

President Tsai is known for her hairpin turns. She changes policies with the snap of a finger.

Would she make a really big one to overhaul her China policy to save Taiwan in distress?

The China Post is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media groups.