Tag Archive: national security

Admiral Harris – Commander, United States Pacific Command – Statement on Taiwan


Free and fair democratic elections in January on the island of Taiwan reflect shared values with the U.S. The U.S. maintains its unofficial relations with Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan and we continue supporting Taiwan’s security. USPACOM will continue to fulfill U.S. commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act; continued arms sales to Taiwan are an important part of that policy and help ensure the preservation of democratic government institutions.


Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN
Commander, United States Pacific Command
Statement to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hearing Details & Video
Admiral Harris’ Written Statement

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The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan


The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of State to announce its approval of possible Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan sales on December 16, 2015.


The published Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 15-27, 15-44, 15-45, 15-72, 15-74, 16-01, 16-05, and 16-06) were for two of the four FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates that that the U.S. authorized by law for transfer to Taiwan a year ago, and associated materials (at a refurbishment and upgrade cost of US$190 million); 36 AAV-7 Assault Amphibious Vehicles (US$375 million); 13 MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B ship defense Close-In Weapon Systems, upgrade kits, ammunition, and support (US$416 million); 208 Javelin guided missiles, technical assistance, logistics, and program support (US$57 million); 769 BGM-71F-series TOW 2B Aero Radio Frequency anti-armor missiles, support, and training (US$268 million); 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, related equipment and support (US$217 million); Taiwan Advanced Tactical Data Link System (TATDLS) and Link 11 communication systems integration (US$75 million); Follow-on support for Taiwan’s MIDS/LVT-1 and JTIDS previously procured (US$ 120 million).[i]


Taiwan is poised to elect a new President on January 16, 2016. The timing of this announcement is therefore useful as a modest signal to China that the U.S. has equities in the peaceful transition of power on the island, and that it supports Taiwan’s democratic system. However, the Taiwan Relations Act states that “the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” In light of this recent sale, the US-Taiwan Business Council poses a number of questions for the Obama Administration:


  1. Why did it take over four years to prepare this arms package? The last U.S. arms sale to Taiwan took place on September 21, 2011.
  2. Why isn’t Taiwan being offered any new capabilities to counter changes to the Chinese threat over this period?
  3. What impact are delays in consideration and execution of Taiwan arms requests having on the island’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability?


The contents of the arms package announced today – along with the unprecedented four-year delay since the last arms sale – raises serious questions as to whether it serves as a response commensurate to the threat posed by China’s military. The past four years has seen increased Chinese force modernization efforts, and according to the U.S. Department of Defense “the PLA has developed and deployed military capabilities to coerce Taiwan or to attempt an invasion, if necessary.[ii]


The Obama Administration’s focus on China military-to-military engagement and other initiatives in which China’s cooperation is viewed as crucial, such as on climate change efforts, is directly and negatively impacting U.S. willingness to maintain consistent and credible support for Taiwan’s self-defense. This in turn directly impacts the seriousness with which China views our intentions to assist Taiwan.


Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers noted that “There have been myriad initiatives in U.S.-Taiwan bilateral security relations since the last arms sale in 2011. However, while China has deployed new fighters, submarines, and missiles during the last four years, the U.S. has consistently refused to consider providing Taiwan access to similar platforms, or even aiding their indigenous development.


In addition, the process for considering, assessing, and processing Taiwan arms sales is broken. The contorted efforts to provide the minimum over an extended period has amounted to long delays and to the U.S. providing only second-hand equipment and additional munitions for systems already in Taiwan’s inventory. The U.S. is placing its China priorities ahead of our legacy and legal requirement to provide for Taiwan’s self-defense. We see no effort to meaningfully address China’s modernization efforts with new capabilities for Taiwan – not because they are unneeded, but because the political cost to China relations is perceived as being too high. Yet that perception was roundly debunked by the Council and Project 2049 in our 2012 report on Chinese reactions to arms sales.[iii]


Hammond-Chambers also said “The process that has seen the bundling of Taiwan arms sales into large packages has run its course. The arbitrary manner in which programs are considered, the absence of a broader strategy for providing Taiwan consistent material support, and the long delays in processing and notifying them to Congress is hampering Taiwan’s ability to mount a serious defense. By bundling programs into packages, the U.S. forces Taiwan to buy all necessary equipment at once rather than in an orderly year-on-year process. If requests go unaddressed for years, or programs are long delayed, how can Taiwan reasonably maintain domestic political support for them, or develop the budget for its ongoing force modernization?


The US-Taiwan Business Council supports the return to a normal and regular process for assessing all Taiwan arms sales requests and sales. Additionally, the Council believes that the bilateral security relationship needs to be clear about what new capabilities should accompany ongoing training and exchanges in aid of Taiwan’s self-defense – including addressing quantitative issues impacting its fighter fleet, its requirement for submarines to complicate Chinese invasion scenarios, as well as further improvements in Taiwan’s missile defense capabilities.


[i] As of 1:00 pm on December 16, 2015. For details, see the DSCA website at http://www.dsca.mil/major-arms-sales
[ii] See: “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2015” http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2015_China_Military_Power_Report.pdf
[iii] See: “Chinese Reactions to Taiwan Arms Sales” http://www.us-taiwan.org/reports/2012_chinese_reactions_to_taiwan_arms_sales.pdf

Press Release: The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan (PDF)

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The DPP’s National Defense Agenda

DPP’s  Defense  Agenda


On May 26, 2015 the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) think tank New Frontier Foundation released four “blue papers” covering the DPP’s national defense agenda. (Press Conference)

The first of these papers (Defense Policy Blue Paper 9) has been completely translated into English, but in the remaining reports only the forewords have been translated. Forewords are written by DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen.

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 9 – Taiwan’s Military Capacities in 2025

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 10 – Information Protection and Strategic Communications

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 11 – Refinement of Veteran Affairs

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 12 – Preparing the Development of Indigenous Defense Industry



On December 5, 2014, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) think tank New Frontier Foundation released its eight “blue paper” covering the DPP’s national defense agenda.

Titled “Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief,” the paper calls for the Taiwan armed forces to expand their role and mission in order to improve military effectiveness in contingencies other than war.

English language foreword by DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen

Report Announcement

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 8 – Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief



On October 6, 2014, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) think tank New Frontier Foundation released its seventh “blue paper” covering the DPP’s national defense agenda.

Titled “Bolstering Taiwan’s Core Defense Industries,” the paper calls for reviving the domestic defense industry, with the goal of elevating Taiwan’s capacity to produce its own defensive equipment and weaponry.

English language foreword by DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen

Report Announcement

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 7 – Bolstering Taiwan’s Core Defense Industries



On August 22, 2014, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) think tank New Frontier Foundation released its sixth “blue paper” covering the DPP’s national defense agenda.

Titled “New Generation of Soldiers,” the paper calls for initiating reform of internal military affairs with personnel considerations as a core value, and strengthening the connection between the military and society.

English language foreword by DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen

Report Announcement

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 6 – New Generation of Soldiers



On March 3, 2014, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) think tank New Frontier Foundation released its fifth “blue paper” covering the DPP’s national defense agenda.

In announcing the report, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang firmly stressed the need for Taiwan to pursue stronger defense capabilities. He stated that the DPP will take full responsibility of becoming the catalyst for strengthening national defenses by encouraging indigenous defense production, especially for submarine capabilities. He also stated that Taiwan must “promptly adjust its national defense strategy, military strategy, and operational concepts” to meet growing Chinese military threats and “establish Taiwan’s self-defense capability.”

The report itself stated that Taiwan should focus on fostering private investment in indigenous R&D, next-generation weapons, and cyber warfare.

Both the Chinese and English versions have been compiled into one document (the English translation begins on page 37).

Report Announcement

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 5 – China’s Military Threats against Taiwan in 2025



On June 6, 2013 the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) think tank New Frontier Foundation released four “blue papers” covering the DPP’s national defense agenda. (Press Conference, Report Announcement)

The first report covers the overall strategy and philosophy behind the DPP’s national defense policy. The second report covers recommendations on transforming the quasi-governmental Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), and on strengthening the nation’s military-industrial and research capabilities. The third report covers recommendations for Taiwan’s National Security Council (NSC), while the fourth outlines the DPP’s plans to strengthen military cooperation between Taiwan and the United States.

The first paper has been completely translated into English, but in the remaining reports only the forewords have been translated.

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 1 – DPP’s  Defense  Agenda

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 2 – Transforming  the  CSIST: Strengthening Indigenous Defense Research and Development

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 3 – An Accountable National Security Council

DPP Defense Policy Blue Paper 4 – New Chapter for Taiwan‐U.S. Defense Partnership

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US-Taiwan Business Council Believes that the Obama Administration Remains Committed to Taiwan’s F-16 Upgrade Program

Recent reports have indicated that the alleged defunding by the U.S. Air Force of the combat avionics programmed extension suite (CAPES) will negatively impact Taiwan’s F-16 A/B upgrade program. The US-Taiwan Business Council believes these reports to be inaccurate. Should this defunding occur, it will have no impact on the schedule or cost for Taiwan’s extensive upgrade program, including on the development of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.

The Council understands that the U.S. Air Force remains fully committed to the Taiwan F-16 upgrade program, and that their assurances are reflected in the signed Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA). That commitment ensures that the cost and schedule put in place by the LOA remains, and that the Taiwan military will not see any changes to their program even if the CAPES program is altered. This extends through the upgrade and into the sustainment of the upgraded equipment.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said, “I am pleased that the U.S. Air Force remains committed to the Taiwan upgrade program and to the assurances that were made in the LOA. This retrofit program is the first of two steps to upgrade Taiwan’s fighter fleet, with the second step – purchase of replacement F-16 C/Ds – still to be approved.

Hammond-Chambers added, “The ongoing impact of tighter U.S. defense spending, and the decisions impacting fighter upgrades for legacy U.S. equipment, merely highlights the need for the U.S. to continue to build capacity among its Asia Pacific security allies, including Taiwan. Taiwan has a legitimate need for additional fighters to meet its sovereign security requirements, and F-16 C/Ds would best fit that need.


US-Taiwan Business Council Believes that the Obama Administration Remains Committed to Taiwan’s F-16 Upgrade Program (PDF file)

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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission – 2013 Annual Report to Congress

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) was “created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.

On November 20, 2013, the USCC released its 2013 annual report to congress. Chapter 3, Section 2 of the report contains analysis on Taiwan, including discussions on cross-Strait relations, Taiwan’s role in the East and South China Sea disputes, and the status of U.S.-Taiwan relations. The report also contains extensive discussion on cross-Strait military and security issues.

Complete Report (PDF, 15MB)
Chapter 3, Section 2: Taiwan (PDF, 1.1MB)

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Special Commentary: Signing of an LOA to Upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 A/B Fighters

The US-Taiwan Business Council congratulates the governments of the United States and Taiwan on their recent signing of a US$3.8 billion Letter of Offer & Acceptance (LOA) to upgrade Taiwan’s 145 F-16 A/B fighters. This deal will provide Taiwan’s existing fleet of F-16 A/Bs with important enhancements by means of a contract spanning nearly a decade of work (2012-2021). The agreement provides for Taiwan adding advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to its fighters, as well as for making structural upgrades, improving avionics, and expanding electronic warfare suites.

The future boost in Taiwan’s airpower capabilities represented by this LOA was a long time in coming. It would not have happened without the leadership of Senator John Cornyn. As a result of the Senator’s perseverance, the Obama Administration notified to Congress a US$5.3 billion F-16 A/B upgrade program in September 2011. In the absence of Senator Cornyn’s personal attention to this important Asia Pacific security matter, it is likely that the upgrade program LOA would not have been consummated last Friday, July 13, 2012.

Despite this positive development, however, Taiwan’s very real and urgent requirement for additional fighters remains unaddressed.

Taiwan & the U.S. Re-Balance Towards Asia

The Obama Administration is currently paying increased attention to the Asia Pacific region, and has undertaken a significant effort to highlight its “Pivot to Asia” and its re-balancing of priorities. This is welcome news.

In the context of this re-balancing effort, moving ahead with the F-16 A/B upgrade program is an important initial step in Taiwan’s effort to play its role in the region. However, Taiwan’s requirement to also purchase new fighters is just as serious and urgent as the U.S.-supported modernization programs for Australia, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.

It is important to clearly understand the grave issues faced by Taiwan’s air forces after 2016. In the latter part of that year, the Taiwan Air Force will start to withdraw up to a squadron (24) at a time of F-16 A/Bs to undergo upgrades and modernization. With 16 fighters permanently allocated for training at Luke Air Force Base, and with an operational rate of 70%, Taiwan will then have as few as 73 F-16 A/Bs operational at any one time – half of its existing fleet. In addition, these remaining fighters will not yet have been modernized, and will be required to fly more missions to attempt to maintain control over Taiwan’s myriad defense and security scenarios. This is simply not enough to handle all of Taiwan’s many needs, whether at war or while at peace.

What is the Plan to Fill Taiwan’s 2016-2021 Fighter Gap?

In an April 27, 2012 letter to Senator Cornyn, the White House stated that it is “mindful of and share your concerns about Taiwan’s growing shortfall in fighter aircraft.” The letter also noted that the Obama Administration is deciding “on a near term course of action on how to address Taiwan’s fighter gap, including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new US-made fighter aircraft.”

This important language should be at the center of the next stage of Taiwan’s air force modernization. Neither the U.S. nor Taiwan has the luxury to take several years to determine what to do next. The two governments need to settle on a plan in the coming months, a plan that can be implemented so that while Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs are being withdrawn from the front line in 2016 and beyond, new fighters are available to fill the gap. This plan could be as simple as a phased approval approach. Phase I could be for a small number of new F-16s (24) to compensate for those existing aircraft out of service during the upgrade program. These new aircraft could be delivered in parallel with the upgrade/modification schedule.

There are some who argue that the F-35B – the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the new U.S. fighter – should be the focus of Taiwan efforts to modernize its fighter fleet. In 2011, press reports indicated that a U.S. Department of Defense report to Congress highlighted a STOVL aircraft as the best solution for Taiwan.

Certainly a STOVL variant would meet many of Taiwan’s needs, and if it was available that could be an attractive option. However, the F-35B will certainly not be made available to Taiwan in the next decade. It therefore fails to meet Taiwan’s fighter gap needs between 2016 and 2021. In addition, the F-35B is significantly more expensive than the F-16 C/D – it represents a new airframe and therefore a new supply chain to keep it operational through training, upgrading, and maintenance. The F-35B would therefore create even greater budgetary pressures for Taiwan’s already under-funded defense establishment.

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the signing of the F-16 A/B upgrade and modernization contract this past Friday. Nevertheless, this action does not offer a complete solution. Indeed, removing F-16 A/Bs from the front line to be upgraded actually makes Taiwan’s 2016-2021 fighter gap that much wider. Taiwan will not have enough fighters to patrol its skies.

The Council urges the U.S. & Taiwan governments to put a plan in place as soon as possible to address this destabilizing shortfall.

Special Commentary: Signing of an LOA to Upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 A/B Fighters

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Taiwan Defense & Security Report – Q1, 2012

Report Cover: Taiwan Defense & National Security Report – Q1, 2012

Report Cover: Taiwan Defense & National Security Report – Q1, 2012

The year 2012 began with presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan, and the results will help shape the trilateral relationship between Taipei, Beijing and Washington over the next four years.

Despite his stronger-than-expected showing at the polls as he was re-elected, President Ma Ying-jeou has already begun struggling with rapidly falling popularity. Ma has also seen widespread public resentment over some difficult policy decisions – decisions that he had declined to make before the presidential election, but that he felt compelled to push forward during the period between the election and his formal inauguration in May. It remains to be seen whether this signals the shape of things to come during Mr. Ma’s second term, and how his weak political standing could impact his cross-Strait and national security policies going forward.

This quarterly analysis report will provide a brief overview of significant defense and national security developments in the past few months, and will examine some of the factors that influenced the course of events during the first three months of 2012. It will examine the political environment in Taiwan, assess cross-Strait relations, look at Taiwan defense policy and defense budget issues, and appraise the status of the U.S.-Taiwan defense relationship. The report ends with an update on the current state of affairs for select Taiwan procurement programs.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/taiwan-defense-security-report-q1-2012/

Taiwan Defense & Security Report – Annual Review, 2011

Election politics and considerations dominated the year 2011 for Taiwan in almost every conceivable way. The January 14, 2012 Presidential/Legislative Yuan (parliamentary) elections were watched not without some anxiety by interested entities well beyond Taipei. Indeed, some of the actions taken by Washington and Beijing during the past year, and in the lead-up to the elections, may even suggest the emergence of a preliminary consensus – if not yet a new paradigm – for managing the complex and often sensitive U.S.-Taiwan-China strategic relationship.

As these critical elections were successfully concluded within two weeks of the end of 2011, this report will try to analyze their results in the context of the traditional defense and security focus of this annual review. The report will also provide an overview of the significant political, cross-Strait, and defense developments during 2011, which should perhaps offer some helpful indications as we look for factors that could influence key defense and national security policy developments during the next four years.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/taiwan-defense-security-report-annual-review-2011/

Taiwan Defense & Security Report – Q3, 2011

The third quarter of 2011 ended with the long-awaited – as well as repeatedly and seriously delayed – U.S. Government decision on the sale of F-16 fighters to Taiwan. More precisely, the U.S. government notified to Congress its intention to provide to Taiwan a major package of mid-life modernization for its existing F-16A/B fighters – argued by the Obama Administration as being a better option than the sale of replacement F-16C/D fighters.

The U.S. side insists that they have not ruled out selling a new tranche of F-16s to replace aging equipment, and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has renewed calls for the new buy. Nevertheless, the controversial Obama Administration decision spoke volumes of the complex three-way dynamic between Washington, Taipei, and Beijing, and may herald a new reality that could soon confront Taiwan’s national security establishment.

In the meantime, everything related to Taiwan – including defense issues and cross-Strait relations – continues to take a backseat to, and merely serve as backdrop for, the campaigns ahead of the next joint presidential/legislative elections scheduled for January 14, 2012. In the presidential race, incumbent Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) faces opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen in what will be a hotly contested and close race. The addition of Peoples First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong to the contest adds a complicating factor for both candidates – but particularly for President Ma.

This quarterly analysis report provides a brief overview of significant developments in Taiwan during the past three months, and examines some of the factors that influenced the course of events during the third quarter of 2011. In addition to examining the current political environment in Taiwan, the report will look at defense policy, budget, and procurement issues. It will also provide an update on U.S.-Taiwan defense relations, and a look at the current status of select programs.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/taiwan-defense-security-report-q3-2011/

Taiwan Defense & Security Report – Q2, 2011

Preparations for and campaigning ahead of the upcoming Presidential and Legislative Yuan (LY) elections, which will both take place in January 2012, continued to dominate the Taiwan political environment through the second quarter of 2011. The elections will likely continue to affect the political and economic environment in Taiwan through the remainder of the year.

Defense and national security issues have so far not been central to the election calculus. As presidential election politics intensify, however, greater attention could be focused on President Ma Ying-jeou’s overall record on cross-Strait relations and national defense, and how these policy arenas relate to the economy, the government’s fiscal health, and wealth distribution under the Ma Administration. This is true to a lesser extent of the legislative elections as well. As the overall impact of President Ma’s first term in office gradually becomes discernible, the outcome of the 2012 elections could increasingly rest on a narrow band of middle voters, whose concerns may include a greater emphasis on defense.

For his part, Mr. Ma is clearly eager to achieve a breakthrough in defense sales before the election, in order to address criticisms that his government has been soft – or even negligent – on defense. However, his efforts at lobbying for U.S. action in the desired direction appear both late and inadequate.

This quarterly report provides a brief overview of significant developments in the past three month, and examines some of the factors that influenced the course of events in Taiwan during the second quarter of 2011.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/taiwan-defense-security-report-q2-2011/

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