Saturday, May 14, 2011

Air defense display was all for bark and no bite and Fears of USA about Taiwan being taken over

In my blogs, I often like to combine 2 or so stories that you might have read but which seldom someone has connected the links or the dots on.

Here are two articles from the Taipei Times that share how worried Taiwan and the USA are becoming about Chinese intentions to expand its power economically, politically and militarily in the next decade(s). The first one is from today's Taipei Times and describes from the USA, the DOD's perspective on Chinese economic expansion and its link to a potential takeover of Taiwan some day. The second article is an OP-ED piece which shows how paranoid and surreal things can get on the ground here in Taiwan.

Please, peruse them both.--kas


US expert warns of PRC economic trap

STAR WARS::Barry Watts warned that the weaponization of space is under way, and while China’s capabilities are limited now, ‘a space Pearl Harbor’ is possible in future
By William Lowther /
Staff Reporter in Washington
Sat, May 14, 2011 - Page 1 Taipei Times
A US military expert said China may be trying to take over Taiwan by using a strategy of “economic entanglement.”
Barry Watts, a senior fellow with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told a US congressional commission this week: “Why use military force if economic entanglement leading to economic capture is succeeding?”
In testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Watts said that the most common scenarios for a conflict between the US and China were built around a Chinese attempt to invade Taiwan.
“The first point to be made about the likelihood of such an attempt is that China has been fairly successful in pursuing the economic entanglement of Taiwan,” he said.
Watts, who was testifying on China’s military space program, said that he had discussed the possibility of a Chinese attack on Taiwan with senior Taiwanese national security officials in Taipei.
“What struck me during that trip was the growing migration of Taiwan’s advanced technologies and businesses to mainland China, lured by such incentives as lower labor costs,” Watts said.
“Since then, the indications are that the gradual economic entanglement of Taiwan has continued, and that it is leading — in the long run — to Taiwan’s eventual economic capture by the People’s Republic of China [PRC],” he said. “If this assessment is correct, then the chances of the PRC initiating a military takeover of Taiwan in 2012 or even 2020 appear to be quite low. Note, too, that this approach embodies Sun Tzu’s (孫子) dictum that the acme of strategy is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Since China is a rising power whose conventional military forces remain substantially inferior to those of the US, Watts said, it was imperative for China to avoid a direct military conflict with the US “for the time being.”
“What role might China’s space capabilities play should such a conflict occur nonetheless?” he asked.
Watts — former head of the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation at the Department of Defense — quoted one study by the Commission on US National Security in Space that warned that unless steps were taken to reduce the vulnerability of the US’ space systems, the country would face the real possibility of a “space Pearl Harbor.”
However, he said that after the PRC’s successful anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) test in January 2007, it was concluded that even with months of planning, the best China could do against US space capabilities would be to attack nine Low Earth Orbit satellites.
The short-term consequences of such an attack would be “limited,” and even under a worst-case scenario, a Chinese all-out ASAT attack would “only reduce” the US’ use of precision-guided weapons and satellite communications.
Watts said that it was not possible to forecast whether the balance might shift more in China’s favor beyond 2020, but that the “weaponization of space” was already under way.


Air defense display was all for bark and no bite

By Dan Bloom / Sat, Apr 30, 2011 - Page 8 Taipei Times
The other day, in a military show of air power and defense capabilities in the face of a future China attack on Taiwan, something surreal and yet very real took place just an hour from my home in southern Taiwan. For a few hours on a weekday morning, six warplanes practiced taking off and landing on a temporarily blocked section of a main national freeway to simulate a possible response to a future Chinese attack.
It felt surreal watching the local TV news, because one doesn’t often see national freeways in any country blocked off to become temporary takeoff and landing fields for fighter jets. Imagine such a scene on I-95 in the east coast of the US or Route 66 in Texas.
As I watched the news clips being repeated on local TV that day and the next, I couldn’t help but think that I was once again experiencing the Alice in Wonderland quality of life in this part of the world, where the “Goliath” of China has more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the “David” of Taiwan, all in the name of peace and “peaceful rising.”
If China is rising peacefully, then I must be watching the wrong TV channel. And if Taiwan stands a chance of surviving a massive military attack from China, well, there’s no hell that could ever host such a massacre.
Who’s the director of this geopolitical tragicomedy filled with scenes of F-16s, French-built Mirages and Indigenous Defense Fighters taking off and landing in the weekday morning calm of an empty national freeway as a single OH-58D helicopter hovers overhead to provide “security” for the operations?
US Senator Richard Lugar recently told US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that unless Washington supplied Taipei with relatively advanced F-16 fighter jets and upgraded Taiwan’s existing F-16 fleet, Taiwan could be left “with no credible air-to-air deterrent.” Oops.
According to an Associated Press dispatch from the sidelines of that early morning military exercise, “Taiwanese requests for F-16 hardware have been pending since the administration of [former] US president George W. Bush. The [US President Barack] Obama administration has refused to make a decision, caught between its strong desire not to anger China — with which it maintains a complex and wide-ranging relationship — and its equally strong commitment to provide Taiwan the means to defend itself from a possible Chinese attack.”
Under the conditions of the morning military exercise, the freeway landing was made necessary because “a simulated Chinese attack had already taken out nearby Taiwanese air fields.”
Ouch. Welcome to the land that Lady Liberty protects, but which a Biblical Goliath threatens.
Like scenes from a war movie, TV viewers in Taiwan that day were treated to news segments of AH-1W and CH-47 helicopters joining waiting fighters and resupplying them with Harpoon and other missiles so they could continue their “missions” against the attacking Chinese. A mere “simulation,” of course.
Throngs of residents — binocular-toting plane-spotters and amateur war gamers — crowded the area to watch the surreal military exercise proceed and shoot videos of it with their cellphone cameras for posterity.
The entire exercise went off without a hitch.
However, Taiwan still wants to buy 66 US-made F-16C/Ds.
The Obama administration’s response? Do the math: The US is worried that such fighter sales would make China angry.
God forbid a war should ever break out between Taiwan and China. It won’t be a pretty picture and it won’t take place on a blocked-off national freeway.
Dan Bloom is a freelance writer in Taiwan.



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