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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.

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