In the wake of Taiwan’s legislative elections in December 2004, Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration is grappling with a range of domestic and international challenges to safeguard Taiwan’s defense and national security. Over the past year, President Chen – having overseen a major transition in defense leadership during the first month of his second term and failing to secure a legislative majority in December – is trying to consolidate control over the country’s national security and defense establishments and trying to implement a far reaching force modernization and defense reform program.
However, a number of obstacles continue to slow progress. First, a highly divided domestic polity in which the opposition is using defense issues as a bully pulpit to further political agendas continues to stymie his efforts to develop a force capable of standing up to the growing threat from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan continues to suffer from limited choices in its force modernization plan, an issue that is further complicated by an inefficient defense industrial infrastructure. This defense and national security analysis reviews the key events of 2004, assesses the results of the December 2004 legislative elections, and examines developments in Taiwan’s defense budget and procurement programs.