2010 could prove to be a defining year in the history of Taiwan’s relationship with China. The two sides signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), a preferential trade agreement, in June, and have been working to continue to expand bilateral trade and cooperation since. Just like the two sides of the Taiwan Strait look to deepening and further broadening their ties, Washington and Beijing are also seriously pursuing mutually beneficial common grounds in their complex tangle of global strategic interests.
Marking the midway point of President Ma Ying-jeou’s four-year term, events in 2010 also prepared the political landscape for the fierce battles ahead in the lead-up to the next presidential election in March 2012. The economy, jobs, partisan unity, cross-Strait dynamics, and U.S.-Taiwan relations will all figure prominently in the 2012 campaigns.
However, issues concerning Taiwan’s defense and national security have not received as much attention as they probably should have so far under the Ma Administration. With much of his defense agenda facing serious challenges, and civil-military relations still rather frosty, President Ma’s record on defense could prove to be a major potential vulnerability as he heads into the 2012 presidential race.
This report provides a brief overview of significant developments in the past year, and examines some of the factors that influenced the course of events during 2010. It will also provide a brief update on the defense budget, on U.S.-Taiwan defense relations, and on the progress of select Taiwan arms procurement programs.