I hope a Tsai presidency would bolster national defense

One of the problems with the DPP for a long time is that, despite its support for Taiwan independence, it was never particularly enthusiastic about spending the necessary resources to help defend that claim if push came to shove - namely, if China attacked Taiwan. The Chen Shui-Bian administration - aside from that often-blocked attempt to purchase P-3Cs, submarines and Patriot missiles - didn’t make much of an effort to bolster Taiwan’s armed forces.

The Ma Ying-Jeou administration, of course, didn’t do much for the military either.

I hope that a Tsai presidency will finally get around to addressing this issue and raising defense spending to something like, 3.5% of GDP, although I have little cause for optimism. DPP “military hawks” seem to be quite few and far in between for a party that is ostensibly pro-independence/anti-China.

That’s a big understatement. Defense spending has been cut year and year again under Ma, which has only fed the conspiracy theories that he’s actively working on ruining Taiwan’s defenses to let the Chinese in.

Raising defense spending to a level that would even hold China off temporarily will require a rather stiff tax increase. Many Taiwanese are all for independence, until it comes time to pay the bill.

What would it take to seriously hold China off in a war? A fleet of nuclear powered submarines, preferably with missile strike capability. All the other stuff like tanks, Chen Shuibian’s ridiculous Kidd-class destroyers, Ma Ying-jeou’s joke-class Apache helicopters, etc, are just window dressing.

No country would actually sell nuclear submarines. The USA offered Taiwan an expensive program to buy diesel-powered subs, which the USA doesn’t actually have. Those subs wouldn’t have missile strike capabilities, and would just mainly be a nuisance to Chinese ships until their diesel fuel ran out. China could just rain missiles down from the sky and not even worry about those toy subs.

If Tsai does become president, I do expect she’ll buy a bunch of mothballed garbage from the USA just for show. Something that would like good in military parades.

The Shah-class destroyers don’t even have Aegis radars, although, their system will integrate smoothly with a ship that does have them. And they have nice air-conditioning.

I have a few American friends who were hired to do flight training and military consultancy for Taiwan. What they told me about the Kidd-class destroyers is that even at the time they were sold to Taiwan, they were already considered hopelessly out-of-date which is why they were mothballed. Would have been sold for scrap metal if Taiwan wasn’t suckered into buying them. The big insurmountable problem is their radar footprint - they won’t last five minutes in a war before a Chinese missile takes them out. But they are very large ships, so Chen Shuibian liked them - he even took one of them on a cruise to the Spratly Islands to show everyone that “mine is bigger.”

The Apache helicopters - I guess Ma Ying-jeou saw some war movies and thought that these were cool. True, they could be temporarily useful if Chinese troops were landing on the beaches of Taiwan, but that scenario is extremely unlikely to play out. If China really gets into a military confrontation with Taiwan, it will most likely be a naval blockage - sink a few Taiwanese ships, thus cutting off Taiwan’s supply of imported fuel and food, drop a few missiles onto prominent targets to terrorize the population and sow panic, and wait for Taiwan’s economy to collapse and then surrender.

Only if Taiwan had a fleet of submarines could it hit back hard at China, thus making it too expensive for them to even attempt such a brazen military adventure. Subs would have to be nuclear-powered or else they’d run out of fuel in short order. But Taiwan has no program to build its own submarines - let alone nuclear-powered ones - and it would take at least a decade to do if we started right now, and it would cost some astronomical amount like maybe US$50 billion or more, which the public would not want to pay for. Plus the DPP’s anti-nuke stance makes it even more unlikely - maybe they’ll go for solar-powered submarines.

In my opinion, if Taiwan doesn’t want to get serious and spend big money on effective weapons, they may as well not bother. It’s probably already too late. China will not be impressed by outdated weapons that are just for show.

If China decides to attack Taiwan, Taiwan can’t do sh*t about it. They could basically send two people for each person in Taiwan, and their population would barely feel it, but Taiwanese would be quickly overwhelmed.

However, they don’t need to. Many of the most important Taiwanese companies have already relocated their factories to China, so no one is interested in an armed conflict, since China would automatically confiscate them, with the consequent economic loss. As of now, Taiwan is making China richer, bringing business to their country.

The Taiwanese government would be better trying to convince the companies to come back to Taiwan and bring back the factories, and the business.

The only factor is whether there is a GRC LY majority supporting defence against China.

If US keeps emphasizing that help is not certain when China attacks, then it is easier for those pro-China people to send their politicians to the LY to undermine defence. If US emphasizes that help is certain, then it is easier for pro-Taiwan people to send their politicians to the LY to bolster defence.

It is not counterintuitive. It’s just a that there is a gap in terms of cultural/thought process between the American and the Taiwanese. The rationale must be that “help will come, and therefore Taiwan should bolster defence,” not “help will not come, and therefore…”

No, China can’t transport millions of troops across the Strait.

They don’t need to do it at once. They only would need to outnumber the army and the small percentage of population willing to raise against the invaders, which probably wouldn’t be millions.

Help will not come. The hardcore TI folks cannot accept that, but then again, accepting reality was never their strong point. The good old days of the Korean and Vietnam wars will not be repeated.

If China invades Taiwan, the USA will send a protest note to the Chinese embassy. That will be all the “help” Taiwan will get.

If China decides to attack Taiwan, Taiwan can’t do sh*t about it. They could basically send two people for each person in Taiwan, and their population would barely feel it, but Taiwanese would be quickly overwhelmed.
No, China can’t transport millions of troops across the Strait.[/quote]

I agree with Blaquesmith, more or less. A WW II style D-Day invasion is not what I’d expect. Rather, a naval blockade, plus firing missiles at random times at random targets, not with the intention to do anything more than sow chaos and panic in Taiwan. This could take place over a period of months. The USA might even send two or three protest notes during this time. Meanwhile, President Hillary or Jeb will be on the phone with President Xi assuring him that none of this will affect Wal-Mart’s orders for Chinese-made products.

Taiwan could hit back if they had nuke-powered subs sitting off the coast of China, sinking ships, lobbing missiles into downtown Shanghai, etc. Just the threat of that would be enough to make China pause. Those Apache helicopters will prove useless, and the Kidd-class destroyers will be lying on the bottom of the sea (or Suao Harbor, where they are parked) five minutes after the war starts.

Taiwan needs to have asymmetric capabilities that are so lethal that China would be hurt too much if they decide to attack.

It’s not subs, or fighter aircraft, or helicopters. It’s weapons like missiles, UAVs, and drones that can be shot at China mainland and hurt China and that China can not intercept or defend against.

BUT, the USA doesn’t want to sell these type of capabilities, and the USA complains when Taiwan wants or tries to develop their own capabilities.

Nope. It’s ludicrous to think that the nuclear deterrent would be enough if they were really determined to do so. China is a huge country, and they can setup bunkers and defense installations in secluded places. Taiwan, on the other hand, is VERY tiny: with just one well-placed nuke or dirty bomb, they could wipe about a quarter of Taiwan’s population.

In my opinion, it’s absurd to think that China would resort to the military to control Taiwan: they don’t need to, when they can do it through economical power. Taiwan has lost much of its advantage, and much of its industry (and revenue) depends on the factories based in China. By stopping the trade with Taiwan, China could effectively ruin the island. Make a blockade around it, and you’ll have the Taiwanese starving in a matter of days. No shots would be needed.

Agreed. Taiwan needs to go completely asymmetric, essentially taking a book from China’s page and mimic the weapons and strategies that it has adopted to impede the US ability to intervene on Taiwan’s behalf.

This report from the US defense think tank has some pretty interesting suggestions. csbaonline.org/publications/2014 … otraction/

I think they should go all in on

  1. missile technology
  2. unmanned AUV/UUV in the mid-term
  3. cyber/intelligence

China is outspending Taiwan 15-1, so even if they spend 10% of GDP it doesn’t really matter. This says nothing of the advantages China enjoys in terms of access to technology and its own domestic R&D capabilities. Therefore, it is how they spend the money rather than how much they spend that matters.

In the short-run, focusing on anti-sea, anti-air and land based cruise missiles makes a lot of sense. Firing 10 missiles for every ship China sends out is a much more cost effective way of dealing with the issue instead of trying to match them with hardware.

The DPP has said that it will focus more on domestic procurement, which makes a lot of sense. Focusing on the multiplier effect, i.e. the benefit accrued domestically per dollar spent, is very important. Instead of just buying junk from the US, they should build as much as possible onshore, which might in some part bolster the domestic economy. From what I have read, one of the major reasons politicians have relied on foreign procurement is the graft opportunities that this brings.

One area that fits in with the above principle of the multiplier effect is a focus on cyber security. Taiwan can take advantage of the fact that it only has to focus in one area and put resources into tracking/combatting Chinese cyber efforts. This would put them in position to be very valuable to allies. Perhaps people could serve in the cyber division for 5-10 years, then go into the private sector and outsource cyber security for fortune 500 companies targeted by Chinese hackers, thus using the defense industry to create high paying local jobs.

Again leveraging the linguistic/cultural/access advantages, Taiwan should focus on intelligence gathering activities, then in turn quietly sharing this intel with allies. I suspect that these activities/capabilities must have suffered greatly under Ma. Also, I think people underestimate the psychological opps cards that Taiwan could play in any conflict; spreading negative information about corruption to groups marginalized under the CCP could have a powerful effect.

If they adopt the right strategies, the situation isn’t entirely hopeless. This US general acting as Iran in a major war simulation adopted an asymmetric strategy and basically beat the US forces. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002

Nuclear subs? I think you yourself even admitted that this is not anywhere close to a feasible option, but I don’t even think it would be that helpful anyway.

First off, you do realize that they have a limited payload, right? At best they could launch like 12 missiles, then what? They would also give away their position by coming up to firing depth and then launching the missiles, but assuming that they could survive, what then? Taiwan has like 1-2 ports that would be large enough to service that size of sub, and you can bet that those naval bases would be targeted with dozens of missiles in the first wave of launches by China. Best case scenario you spend $3bn/sub to launch like 10 missiles…

Short of firing nuclear missiles, it’s hard to see where being able to hit China with 50 missiles would be much of a deference if they were committed to war. Anyway, you could accomplish that much more cheaply by building hundreds of land based cruise missiles and spreading them across the island, if not maybe even launching them from mountain bunkers. Also, if you are talking about a scenario where Taiwan is blockaded and they respond by sinking Chinese ships or firing missiles, don’t you think China would respond with full force?

I think the idea of building a whole fleet of midget submarines is by far the best one. Basically you use them to identify the Chinese ships, then hit them with land based anti-ship missiles. The smaller subs could also be used to lay mines close to Chinese ports. If the Australians and South Koreans were not able to build >2 ton diesel subs, don’t see how Taiwan could pull it off.

Taiwan is already building all that. HF-2E cruise missiles and various UAVs.

I agree that help would be unlikely to come if Taiwan declared independence first and then China attacked, but it’s kind of rich to hear “accepting reality was never their strong point” from someone who supports the party whose candidate for president wants China “to recognize the ROC” but says she “cannot say the ROC exists because that would be a two-state theory.” If you ask me, the party that is firmly up in the clouds and has no sense of reality and what the people are thinking is the KMT.


I agree that help would be unlikely to come if Taiwan declared independence first and then China attacked, but it’s kind of rich to hear “accepting reality was never their strong point” from someone who supports the party whose candidate for president wants China “to recognize the ROC” but says she “cannot say the ROC exists because that would be a two-state theory.” If you ask me, the party that is firmly up in the clouds and has no sense of reality and what the people are thinking is the KMT.[/quote]

Who says I support “that party?” Just to clarify my position, I’ve never supported any particular party. Of course, since I don’t have the right to vote in Taiwan, it’s an easy cop-out. The fact is, if I could vote in this next election, I’d probably be one of those “undecided” voters right up until election day, and then vote for the candidate who I think will do the least damage. Nobody currently running for president impresses me very much.

My assessment of Ma Ying-jeou - he wasn’t too horrible in his first term, but his second term was a disaster. I don’t think that makes me a supporter.

My assessment of Hung Shiu-chu - she’s a flake.

My assessment of Tsai Ying-wen - she’s bright, but considering that she’s spent the past 6 or 7 years undermining Taiwan’s nuclear power industry (and presumably plans to run the MRT off of solar panels), I can’t say I have great confidence. But for the most part we don’t really know what she’ll do, because she never says. I agree with the cynical nickname, “Kongxin Tsai”.


True. Taiwan needed to start work on this 30 years ago. Too late now.

I beg to differ, but OK, let’s go on…

The USA’s largest nuclear subs can launch either 24 ballistic missiles (the kind that can travel thousands of miles), or 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus Harpoon missiles which can be fired through the torpedo tubes (short-range, the kind I’d expect to see used in the Taiwan Strait). Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio-class_submarine

That’s fine. Subs vs land-based missiles - it’s not an either/or proposition. As the old saying goes, never put all your eggs in one basket.

Tit-for-tat. Mutually assured destruction. China blockades Taiwan’s ports, then Taiwan blockades China’s. But the idea is not to even let things get that far - you want to build a formidable weapon, and let the other side know you’ve got it, so they don’t start anything. The way things are now, China has all the formidable weapons, and Taiwan’s got nothing more powerful than stinky tofu.

And you suggested that I was the one advocating provocative moves? But anyway, mini-subs are a start, and I’m not opposed. Is there anyone in the DPP who has said this? Is there a plan to build it? To the best of my knowledge, Taiwan has never built a single submarine. I think that even the tourist sub they had in Green Island for viewing the coral reefs was imported. For an “island nation,” Taiwan sure doesn’t have much of a seafaring culture.

To be fair, the KMT doesn’t have a rational military plan either. But then again, they aren’t hellbent on declaring independence. In a war, their plan is to surrender.

dirty bombs, and lots of them… HE and cobalt 61, or even Pu… easy enough to make 100,000 of them.

Aim them roughly at Beijing , Shanghai, Shenzen and Hong Kong, and don’t care if they get lost or drop short. A s long as they spread that shit wide enough… like in 5,000m airbursts.

Below is a 3 step plan to to achieve eventual strategic victory.

Step 1. The first is to have both sides of the Pacific to enter into an agreement. US will come, on the condition that Taiwan drops the ROC military namesake and initiate reforms to adopt the name “Taiwanese Military”. Flags, insignias, emblems, culture will have to fully modernize and localize.

Step 2. In doing so the appeal the new Taiwanese Military will increase. Disloyal personnel, and those who have dual loyalty will be filtered out. Public support for the military will be on target in terms of manpower and budget. There will be no recruitment problems, and no problem in funding dual-use engineering R&D. Espionage problem can be eradicated. Interoperability between Taiwanese Military and US and JSDF will improve.

Step 3. US makes public its military presence on Taiwan (if it’s hasn’t happened, make it happen), and makes sure the Chinese people (not the Party) gets the message that US is staying indefinitely. The message has to reach 99% of the Chinese population, breaking through the news/propaganda firewall that China has put up.

Why? The Chinese people objects to a war with US, but so far the CCP keeps telling the Chinese people that there will be no consequence coming from US if China takes Taiwan. Chinese intellectuals have been repeating this question in the West: “Will US start a war with China if China takes Taiwan?” What does this tell us about the state of mind of the CCP and the hawks?

Just change the premise and then return the question. “US military is already on Taiwan. Will you, the Chinese people, fight the US Military?”

Problem solved