2014-01-05 22:23:58 - Recently published research from Business Monitor International, "Taiwan Defence & Security Report Q1 2014", is now available at Fast Market Research
China's establishment of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in November 2013 is likely to have a significant impact on Taiwan's defence and security policy moving into 2014. Overlapping the disputed Senkaku/Daioyu islands, claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan, the ADIZ will increase geopolitical risks in the East China Sea region, placing the Taiwanese Government in a dilemma. On the one hand Taiwan is actively seeking to improve relations with China; a strong and forceful reaction to the ADIZ could derail progress made on this front. However the creation of the ADIZ represents a clear encroachment upon parts of Taiwan's claimed sovereignty. A weak reaction could inadvertently legitimise China's move. Chinese aggression is likely to prompt Taiwan to turn to
the US as a counter-balance to Beijing. Given that Beijing presents Taipei's greatest security threat, and the United States is the only country capable of balancing China, Taipei's security and defence ties with Washington are obviously pivotal. Consequently it is no surprise that over the course of the last quarter a number of defence contracts and deliveries have been signed between both parties.
Full Report Details at
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Compared to the United States and Japan, Taiwan's reaction to China's declaration of the ADIZ was relatively mild. President Ma is looking to advance his 'East China Sea' peace initiative, and therefore only went as far as saying that China's ADIZ had 'nothing to do with Taiwan's territory or airspace'. He also ordered Taiwanese airliners to submit their flight plan to Chinese authorities before entering the ADIZ, as requested by Beijing. In contrast, Tokyo and Seoul instructed their aircraft to ignore the ADIZ, while the US has flown 'unaccompanied' military aircraft through the zone on a daily basis.
China's recent advances threaten President Ma's proposed East China Sea Peace Initiative (ECSPI). The ECSPI looks to shelve territorial and maritime disputes, and instead work towards the joint exploration of contested areas. In a report released by Taiwan's legislature in December, fears were raised that China may also look to make advances in the South China Sea, thereby fundamentally challenging the United States' claim to be the prevailing power in the South/East Asia region.
BMI currently views territorial and maritime disputes in the South and East China Sea region as one of the world's greatest geopolitical risks. While large-scale armed conflict seems highly unlikely, Beijing's declaration of an ADIZ greatly increases the risk of an 'incident', arising out of miscalculation and miscommunication, which could prompt a rapid security spiral. As one of the parties most affected by China's ADIZ, such an incident could no doubt involve Taiwan. An incident could take the form of a commercial airliner being forced to make an emergency landing or being shot down. It may even lead to military skirmishes.
The United States has been a staunch ally and security guarantor of Taiwan since the island-state's establishment. In December 2013, former Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, making an official visit to Taipei gave the US government's backing to Taiwan's plans for an ECSPI. The ECSPI replicates US advocacy for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
Over the last quarter of 2013 a number of defence contracts and deliveries between Taiwan and the United States were completed. Deliveries of 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and 30 AH-64E Apache Longbow attack helicopters have begun arriving in Taiwan, with 60 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters expected to arrive in early 2014. In addition Taiwan's Navy reportedly intends to procure four Perry-class frigates from the United States, with delivery planned for 2015. However, Taiwan's military has recently been hit by budget cuts, meaning that Taipei may choose to procure only two rather than four frigates. It is believed that Taiwan's top procurement priority is acquiring new diesel-powered attack submarines to replace their Dutch-built equivalents, acquired during the 1980s.
Without significant additional funds, Taiwan's procurement options remain limited for time being. Its defence budget stands at US$10.6bn for 2013, and costly upgrade programmes for its fleets of F-16 and IDF fighters are currently monopolising equipment funds. The defence ministry has said that it plans to build a new class of submarine and also procure the F-35 stealth fighter from the US, but such capabilities are financially unrealistic.
Despite this, the military has retained its focus on deterring China from attempting an invasion of the island. A new land-attack cruise missile (LACM) capable of striking targets on the mainland is also now operational, while a longer-range LACM is reportedly under development. A mobile land-based version of the HF-3 supersonic anti-ship missile has also now been unveiled. The Air Force is also set to take over aerial anti-submarine warfare operations from the Navy, with a range of naval assets due to be transferred to Air Force ownership within the coming months.
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