Friday, October 19, 2007

KMT shows its true allegiance

If anyone had doubts about the true allegiance of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), those should have been dispelled yesterday when it announced it was blocking the special budget set aside for the Ministry of National Defense to develop the Hsiung Feng (“Brave Wind”) IIE missile, a multiple-platform cruise missile capable of reaching Chinese cities that would have given Taiwan retaliatory capabilities it did not possess.

Already, with the US refusing to sell critical component parts for the development of the missile, the program was facing challenges, compelling the Taiwanese government to search for other markets for the parts or to seek to develop them indigenously. But now, with the budget facing a complete freeze by the KMT, its survival is at stake.

Granted, as belligerents add offensive weapons — and the Hsiung Feng is such a weapon — to their stockpiles and start deploying them, the risks of error increase, and with them the likelihood that wars could be launched by mistake. But as I have argued before, no defense is complete without a deterrent, and this is what the Hsiung Feng would have provided.

The KMT rationalizes its decision to block the budget by saying the missile could have “provoked” Beijing — again, as always, it is Taiwan that is provoking Beijing, never the other way around — and that it was therefore safer to halt its development. But this fails to take stock of reality and starkly shows in whose camp the KMT really is. In the process, it irresponsibly puts the security of the nation at risk.

The only way the KMT could have won the “provocation” argument would be for it to set preconditions for freezing the budget. Those would be, at modicum: (a) the dismantling or de-targeting of the odd-1,000 missiles China is aiming at Taiwan and (b) the renunciation of the use of force to annex Taiwan. China’s continued — and increasing — threat to use force against Taiwan is the true provocation, and yet the KMT remains silent on that issue, a silence that tacitly acknowledges Beijing’s right to break international law by threatening the use of force against another nation.

What’s next? Perhaps the KMT, realizing that the very existence of Taiwan is “provocative” to China, should freeze agricultural, social, health and other budgets that allow for the state to exist in the first place. After all, and if we follow the party’s logic, only when a free, democratic Taiwan ceases to exist will the so-called provocation completely vanish.


Raj said...

As far as I know the budget has not been frozen. One third was cut and a third frozen - the other third was left alone.

The project is still very much alive, it just means that next year fewer missiles will be built.

MikeinTaipei said...

Good point, Raj,

However, we'd have to see if the development phase is complete; if it isn't, having only 1/3 of the budget could mean a complete halt. Furthermore, with the US refusing, for the moment, to sell critical components for the manufacture of the missiles and Taipei saying it might attempt to develop them itself, the missing 2/3 could also bring everythig to a full stop. All that being said, 1/3 of a budget might not necessarily mean 2/3 fewer missiles. We'll see.

Raj said...

Mike, as far as I know development is complete and plans for next year were focused on production.

Also from the reports I've read, alternative parts were sourced from elsewhere - US refusal to sell stuff only delayed things.

Raj said...

I found the following comment from an IHT article:

Shui Hua-ming, a lawmaker of the opposition Nationalist Party, said the budget cut was proposed because Taiwan only needs to make about 60 cruise missiles in the early stage for test-firing before mass production can begin.

So that indicates the KMT accepts production should and will happen.

From what I see the KMT doesn't usually oppose weapons purchases outright, it just likes to present itself as spending money "efficiently" whilst in Opposition. So it cut the submarine money because there was no guarantee the US was going to be able to build them - it would be throwing money away in the hope of a return. Will the recent trip to the US change that? Maybe - we'll see. But it approved money for the P-3C Orions because they just need to be refurbished.

If Ma wins the presidential election you'll see KMT legislators backing every aspect of the defence budget - he wants to negotiate with China from a strong position.