The first quarter of 2011 witnessed the beginnings of the campaign season ahead of Taiwan’s 2012 presidential and legislative elections. Many of the political, cross-Strait, and other policy dynamics during the coming year can be expected to center around this theme. In particular, Taiwan’s 2012 presidential election and its potential impact on the cross-Strait dynamic will be the subject of considerable interest to analysts and policy makers in Taipei, in Beijing, and in Washington, D.C.
Over the past three years, the Ma Ying-jeou Administration’s record on fulfilling its declaratory commitment to Taiwan’s national defense has been lackluster. Whether and/or how this issue might play into the 2012 election also deserves close attention, as President Ma has long been sensitive to accusations – especially by U.S. officials or prominent observers – that he or his government is soft on defense.
This quarterly report provides a brief overview of significant developments in the past few months, examining some of the factors that influenced the course of events during the first quarter of 2011. It will provide an update on Taiwan’s political environment and cross-Strait relations, and offer a discussion on the defense budget and on Taiwan’s move to a volunteer force. In addition, the report will examine U.S.-Taiwan defense relations and the progress (or lack thereof) of select Taiwan arms procurement programs.