During a question time session in Taiwan‘s legislature Guomindang lawmaker Lai Shih-pao (賴士葆) asked Feng Shih-k’uan and premier Lai Ch’ing-teh (賴清德) questions regarding the issue of Taiwan independence and the state of the military.
He criticized recent comments made by the premier, who on September 26 told parliament that Taiwan is an independent sovereign country. The Guomindang (Chinese Nationalist Party) pursues a ‘unification‘ agenda between China and Taiwan and doesn’t view Taiwan as independent.
Lai Shih-pao said that the premier’s push for independence poses a security threat to Taiwan. He cited a recent poll showing that only 20% of Taiwanese citizens would be willing to fight a war against China for the purpose of obtaining independence.
Lai criticized the armed forces, saying that they lack the strength and determination to defend the country. “As soon as war breaks out, young people will take off their uniforms and run back home,” he remarked.
He also attacked the current Defence Minister personally, pointing out that under his leadership several incidents of accidental missile firing had occurred, including the accidental firing of supersonic missile Hsiung-feng toward China on July 1, 2016. The missile hit a Taiwanese fishing boat, killing its captain and injuring three crew members.
Lai quoted a statement by the former Minister of Defence, who said that if China launched an attack Taiwan could resist for two weeks. Lai then asked Feng how long Taiwan could resist if a war were to happen now.
Feng Shih-k’uan answered that Taiwan’s army is becoming stronger. He said that Taiwan could resist for “more than two weeks,” but he refused to be more specific. He remarked that a war with China would not just be about military capabilities but also about “strategy”, adding that he could not divulge details about Taiwan’s war strategy in a public session.
He emphatically denied that Taiwan’s army doesn’t have the morale to fight a war and praised the spirit of troops he recently inspected. “We will sacrifice ourselves for this land, we will give our lives to protect it,” he said.
Over the past three decades the military balance in the Taiwan Strait has gradually shifted in favour of China. Taiwan cannot acquire vital military technology because other countries are afraid of souring relations with Beijing. The Taiwanese government plans to increase its defence budget by 50% next year and develop military technology domestically.
In a recent book Ian Easton, a China affairs analyst, has claimed that Beijing has a secret plan to invade Taiwan by 2020.
China has made clear that it is willing to use military force to bring about ‘reunification’ if peaceful options to that effect were exhausted.
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