Thursday, August 11, 2011

Andrew Yang

Taiwan's Deputy Defense Minister

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) continues to maintain a strong deterrence in the face of a growing Chinese military threat. The island state's future is uncertain as the U.S. and China grow closer and Washington wavers on the sale of new F-16 fighter jets. This makes Nien-Dzu "Andrew" Yang's role as the MND's policy coordinator a challenge.
Andrew Yang is Taiwan's deputy defense minister. (Patrick Lin / AFP via Getty Images)
The stakes are high. Should China capture or confederate Taiwan, the potential is great for destabilizing the region. China, which continues to threaten to impose unification by force, has more than 1,400 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. The MND, meanwhile, faces budget constraints as it struggles to implement an all-volunteer force, begin an expensive streamlining program, pay for $16 billion in new U.S. arms released since 2007, and convince Washington to sell it F-16s and submarines. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced recently the decision would be made by Oct. 1.
Adding to the confusion, since 2008, China and Taiwan have signed historic economic agreements that are moving them closer together. Taiwan has just opened the floodgates for mainland Chinese visitors, prompting fears of an increase in espionage and agents of influence here.
Yang is a former secretary-general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies and adviser to the Mainland Affairs Council, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the MND.
Q. China now has unprecedented influence over the U.S. with its economic, diplomatic and military muscle. How can Taiwan expect the U.S. to continue to defend Taiwan?
A. We are certainly aware that Beijing is a very important global and regional power and has close mutual interests with the United States. High-level visits are becoming regular in intensity. Beijing is increasing their influence over Washington decision-making not only over Taiwan, but over other important regional and global issues.
We firmly believe that Washington still plays great influence in Asia and has repeatedly made strong commitments to regional security. Taiwan is a very important factor contributing to the multilateral effort to preserve peace and stability in this region. So I do not think the United States will tip over to Beijing's side and ignore its vested interest in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Taiwan. The U.S. has repeatedly emphasized they will continue to honor the Taiwan Relations Act and provide adequate and necessary articles to enhance our self-defense.
Q. How has the U.S. reacted to a reduction of tension between China and Taiwan since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's 2008 election?
A. The U.S. fully supports President Ma's strategy and approaches. They consider his approach as a way to de-escalate tensions and find opportunities to enhance peace dividends and to reduce misunderstanding and miscalculation. This has, in a way, made Beijing less belligerent toward Taiwan.
Q. Has China reduced the military threat against Taiwan, or the number of missiles aimed at Taiwan?
A. No, they have not done anything yet. There has been nothing from Beijing's top leadership on the issue. I think Beijing considers that both sides can create a new kind of status quo based on engagement. It doesn't mean that Beijing is reducing its military preparations over Taiwan, but they have to think twice in terms of their approach.
There are more mutual interests involved, not just between Taiwan and mainland China, but also multilateral interests in this region, which Beijing needs to continue to develop its economy and stabilize its society. So Beijing has to make some kind of calculation here - whether to rock the boat for the sake of pursuing Beijing's unification policy, either by force or by other means; or work side-by-side with Taiwan and regional partners to create a more stable, peaceful and prosperous environment.
Q. As the U.S. becomes economically weaker and defense budgets are slashed, many in China see the U.S. as a declining superpower. Will this encourage Chinese adventurism?
A. If you look at Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington earlier this year, it seems to me that from the policymaker's point of view, they don't look at each other as enemies. That's number one. They are still reaching out to each other to the best of their ability to create a win-win situation. From Chinese leaders' comments, they are not taking advantage of U.S. weakness to advance Chinese strategic or national interests in this region. They still emphasize that China should work along with the U.S. to resolve many problems around the world.
Q. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the U.S. will decide about the sale of 66 F-16C/D fighters by Oct. 1. What do you think Beijing's reaction will be if the U.S. releases new F-16s to Taiwan? China calls it a "red line."
A. They will be extremely unpleasant and upset, as they always are. They've been calling everything a red line for 30 years, ever since 1979, when the U.S. switched relations from Taipei to Beijing.
If we don't get the F-16C/Ds to replace our vintage fighters, then we lose our leverage and immediately face the challenge of fulfilling our responsibility of preserving peace and stability in the region. Washington sometimes does not get the right picture of Taiwan's responsibility. That is part of the reason we want new fighters. Otherwise, the U.S. has to send its own military to replace our daily patrols in the region.
China has already sent a strong warning to Washington that if such a decision is adopted, then U.S.-China relations will be damaged. Cutting off regular military exchanges is one way to show Beijing's animosity. But if we look at previous experiences, they will be downgraded for a while, but they have strong mutual interests binding each other together. So they have to make a decision on what will be the next step.
Q. Economic sanctions?
A. I don't think Beijing will take drastic economic actions against the U.S., because they have a lot of investments, including huge foreign reserves in U.S. banks. If the U.S. economy suffers, Beijing suffers.
Q. The U.S. offered Taiwan eight submarines in 2001, but the deal has been stalled. What's the status?
A. It's a long-delayed decision by the U.S. We are constantly urging them to pay attention to our concerns because we consider submarines to be important to our self-defense.
Q. What would happen if China took control of Taiwan and placed bases here?
A. It opens the door for Chinese military and power projection not only into the East China Sea, but also into the South China Sea. Taiwan would become an important hub and stepping stone for China to exert and expand its presence in the South China Sea, which is certainly not in the U.S. interest. It would immediately challenge U.S. strategic calculations and its security umbrella in the Asia-Pacific region. If Taiwan becomes part of China in terms of political integration in the future, then immediately the United States will lose a vital interest in this part of the world.
Q. There has been talk about beefing up Taiwan's military presence on Taiping Island in the South China Sea.
A. We are not ruling out our options. But the current decision adopted by the National Security Council and the president is to improve and reinforce the Coast Guard's capability on the island. So the Marines are training the Coast Guard members stationed on the island. We are also evaluating whether they can actually perform the assigned responsibilities and duties to protect the island and conduct judicial patrol over the waters.
We will never allow China to step onto the island. It is part of our territory, under our management. There is no room for compromise.
Q. Is the primary Chinese military threat amphibious invasion or missile bombardment?
A. It's a combination. They have all sorts of options at hand.
Of course, Beijing will use the minimum military option to achieve maximum political objectives. Our way of defending ourselves is to make sure they pay a high price and cannot succeed in achieving their political objectives. We have to make sure that if Beijing launches missiles against Taiwan, they cannot immediately compromise our defense and force Taiwan to come to terms with Beijing.
Q. Is the streamlining program still on schedule? You are going from conscription to an all-volunteer military force.
A. It is very much on schedule. By law, we have to implement this streamlining process starting in January. We have to implement the all-volunteer program.
It's an incremental process. We are not targeting any particular date to complete this transformation. Certainly, they are predicated on continuous sufficient resource allocation and support from the legislature.
Q. Do you worry about Beijing becoming more nationalistic, more aggressive?
A. It is always a major concern. China is a dynamic society. You have many forces inside China. People only talk about the good side of Chinese development, but not many pay great attention to the challenges and the difficulties.
They are facing increasing domestic problems. We hope the Chinese government can have better management of those problems, but you never know. We worry about succession. Beijing is going to have a top leadership change next year, so who will be the official leader? What does he think about Taiwan? What will be his priorities? We don't want to wake up to a renegade in charge of China who fires missiles over the Taiwan Strait.
Q. How good is Taiwan's intelligence inside China?
A. We are collecting good stuff, at least from our neighborhood. We also share our intelligence during regular meetings with the United States and others. We are much better off than our counterparts, like Japan and the U.S. The U.S. has its satellite images, but we have our human intelligence, and our analysts are resourceful. We have analysts who have spent 30 years watching China.
Ministry Profile
Established as the Ministry of War in 1912 in China; became the Ministry of National Defense in 1946. Moved to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of the Chinese Civil War.
Defense budget:
■ $10.2 billion for 2011
■ $11.2 billion projected for 2012
Troop strength:
■ 275,000 currently
■ 215,000 projected for 2014

F-35 Fleet Cleared For Ground Operations

The F-35 Lighting II fleet has been cleared to resume ground operations after a preliminary investigation found the cause of an electrical subsystem failure, but a Pentagon official refused to speculate when the next-generation fighters will be back in the air.
An Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter sits on a taxiway in July after the fighter's arrival to its new home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Lightning II fleet, parked for the past week, has been cleared for ground operations after a preliminary in (Samuel King Jr. / U.S. Air Force)
Investigators on Wednesday determined a malfunctioning control valve caused the integrated power package of AF-4, the fourth conventional takeoff and landing version, to fail Aug. 2, said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program.
The IPP, built by Honeywell International, combines the functions that are performed by an auxiliary power unit, emergency power system and environmental controls. Lockheed Martin Corp. makes the aircraft.
All 20 of the Lightning IIs have been parked for the past week, the second grounding this year because of electrical problems. In March, faulty maintenance procedures caused a dual generator on the same AF-4 to shut down.
Ground operations will now continue at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where the AF-4 that malfunctioned is assigned, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Della Vedova said.
"We are in development tests of this airplane. There will be discoveries, we want to find discoveries," he said. "We want to find and implement fixes to get this airplane flying again. Today was one step down that road."

Global Hawk to Replace U-2 in 2015

The Global Hawk will finally replace the long-serving U-2 spy plane in 2015, a U.S. Air Force official told reporters Aug. 10.
"No U-2s in the Air Force in fiscal year '15," said Lt. Col. Rick Thomas, the Air Force's Global Hawk functional manager, at the National Press Club.
Thomas said he is confident that the RQ-4, as the Global Hawk is designated, will be able to match the capabilities currently provided by the U-2 as required by legislation.
"That's my job - is to look at that legislation and say if we can do it or not," he said.
One of the capabilities which the Global Hawk will have to integrate before it can replace the U-2 is to carry that aircraft's Optical Bar Camera, which is an extremely high resolution wet film camera. The Air Force is studying ways to mount the massive camera onto the Global Hawk airframe, but substantial modifications will be required to the sensor and the airframe, Thomas said.
"We're looking at a cooperative effort with industry to look at a universal mount," he said.
Thomas said he didn't know if the camera's wet film would be retained - a digital model might be a possibility.
Legislation before Congress might add another monkey wrench into the Air Force's plan to replace the U-2, however.
The proposed legislation would require the Defense Department to certify sustainment costs for the Global Hawk are less than the U-2's before the Air Force is allowed to retire the 1950s-era spy plane. According to the Air Force's Total Ownership Cost database, the U-2 cost $31,000 per flight hour while the RQ-4 sits at $35, 000.
Though the aircraft has had some teething problems where it failed its operational test due to poor reliability and mediocre sensor performance, the Global Hawk has come a long way, Thomas said.
"The [initial operational test and evaluation] was a spot in time," he said.
One problem that has been fixed is a problem with an onboard 25-volt electrical generator which would fail after only 170 hours of operations. Now that same component can function for over 6,000 hours, Thomas said.
"That's been solved," he said.
However, Thomas said that the aircraft is coming down in its operations and maintenance costs. He estimated costs had already dropped by about 5- to 10 percent.
There is still work to be done before the aircraft will fully rectify the problems identified by the operational test report, Thomas acknowledged.
But one source said that the aircraft was still not as reliable as it was once hoped.
The source said that with time and money, the aircraft will get better, but it will never live up to what was originally promised. The source praised the aircraft's long endurance, but said the sensors are currently sub-par and "will continue to be well below par."
The sensors provide less range, less resolution and less collection capability than existing intelligence gathering aircraft, he said.

U.S. Asks China to Explain Need for Carrier

WASHINGTON - The United States said Aug. 10 it would like China to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier amid broader U.S. concerns about Beijing's lack of transparency over its military aims.
"We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give for needing this kind of equipment," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters when asked whether the carrier would raise regional tensions.
"This is part of our larger concern that China is not as transparent as other countries. It's not as transparent as the United States about its military acquisitions, about its military budget," she said.
"And we'd like to have the kind of open, transparent relationship in military-to-military affairs," Nuland said.
"In our military-to-military relations with many countries around the world, we have the kind of bilateral dialogue where we can get quite specific about the equipment that we have and its intended purposes and its intended movements," she said.
But China and the United States are "not at that level of transparency" to which the two nations aspire, Nuland added.
The comments came hours after China's first aircraft carrier embarked on its inaugural sea trial, a move likely to stoke concerns about the nation's military expansion and growing territorial assertiveness.
Beijing only recently confirmed it was revamping an old Soviet ship to be its first carrier and has sought to play down the vessel's capability, saying it will mainly be used for training and "research."

Taiwan's 'Carrier Killer' Aims To Sink China's Carrier

TAIPEI - In the event of war, Taiwan plans to sink China's new aircraft carrier, the Varyag, with its new "aircraft carrier killer" missile, the ramjet-powered supersonic anti-ship cruise missile Hsiung Feng 3. The revelation was made Aug. 10 on the same day China launched the Varyag for its first sea trials.
This mural was displayed at the Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition showing Taiwan Hsiung Feng 3 missiles attacking the new Chinese carrrier, Varyag. (Wendell Minnick)
The disclosure came during a preshow media tour of the biennial Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE). Journalists inspecting the Hsiung Feng 3 were shocked to see a large mural of the Varyag being attacked by three Hsiung Feng 3 missiles. Two of the missiles impact the carrier's starboard bow and starboard quarter, with a third missile is en route to the ship.
The mural was reminiscent of similar displays at the 2010 Zhuhai Airshow in China, where anti-ship missiles were depicted attacking and sinking U.S. aircraft carriers.
The unveiling of the display comes at an uncomfortable time for Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou. Since coming into office in 2008, Ma has eased cross-Strait tensions and signed historic economic agreements with China.
Military officials denied that calling Hsiung Feng 3 the "aircraft carrier killer" or displaying a mural of a missile attack on the Varyag were intended to send Beijing a political message. In the past, the Taiwan military often used ambiguous phrases to describe the "enemy" without mentioning China. Therefore, the Hsiung Feng 3 display was out of synch with normal military protocol that avoids enraging China.
The military-run Chungshun Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) produces the Hsiung Feng family of anti-ship missiles, including the Tien Kung (Sky Bow) air defense missile and the Tien Chien (Sky Sword) missile.
CSIST is working on a highly classified missile system called the Hsiung Feng 2E, which is reportedly a land-attack cruise missile capable of hitting targets on mainland China. This missile has never been displayed to the public and the military refuses to discuss its existence. Another missile program considered secret is the Tien Chien 2A, which is reportedly an anti-radiation missile designed to destroy ground-based radar systems.
A CSIST official said the Hsiung Feng 3 has been outfitted on the 1101 and 1103 Perry-class frigates for testing. "We began building the Hsiung Feng III around five years ago."
The military might field the missile inland along the coast to fend off a Chinese invasion armada, he said. The Hsiung Feng 3 has a reported range of 130 kilometers.
Also on display at TADTE was the new Tien Kung 3 (Sky Bow) air defense missile. The Tien Kung is based on the U.S.-built Patriot missile defense system. Details of its probable deployment are classified.

Taliban Who Downed Helo Killed in Airstrike: U.S.

WASHINGTON - The Taliban insurgents who shot down a U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan, leaving 30 American troops dead, have been hunted down and killed in an air strike, a U.S. commander said Aug. 10.
Gen. John Allen, the new chief of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon that "at approximately midnight on 8 August, coalition forces killed the Taliban insurgents responsible for this attack" with a bombing raid by an F-16 fighter jet.
Insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter on Aug. 5 in the remote Tangi Valley in Wardak province, killing 30 American troops on board - including 25 elite special forces - in the deadliest incident of the nearly 10-year-old war for the NATO mission.
Describing the incident in detail for the first time publicly, Allen said that the helicopter had been sent in as part of an operation targeting a Taliban leader.
"The intelligence that had been generated to this point led us to believe there was an enemy network in the Tangi Valley in the Wardak province, and the purpose of this mission was to go after the leadership of that network," the general said.
When elements of the insurgent force were seen "escaping," the Chinook chopper carrying Navy SEAL commandos and Afghan soldiers was ordered in to head them off, he said.
The CH-47 was then shot out of the sky with a rocket-propelled grenade.
U.S. forces then tracked the insurgents responsible, calling in an air strike at night on Aug. 8 with an F-16, he said.
The Taliban leader originally targeted in Aug. 5's mission was not killed, Allen said.

Demands to Grow for U.N. Peacekeepers, Says Outgoing Chief

U.N.ITED NATIONS - Growing international instability and economic crisis are placing greater demands on U.N. peacekeeping even as it tries to wind down operations, the outgoing head of the 120,000-strong global force said.
Alain Le Roy highlighted the "overwhelming good" that U.N. peacekeepers have brought to troublespots from Haiti to Ivory Coast, East Timor and Sudan, while also acknowledging some bad and ugly cases.
"I think there will be more instability in the world," he said. "We are not the ones asking for an increased number of troops - never."
Conflicting pressures on the U.N. missions were evident during an interview with Le Roy from the New York office he leaves this week.
On one side of the building was a demonstration by Sudanese calling for U.N. intervention in the troubled state of South Kordofan. On the other, Haitians demanded an end to the U.N. "occupation force" in their impoverished nation.
The United Nations wants to close its operation in East Timor next year and start drawing down forces in Liberia, Ivory Coast and Haiti.
But it has also just started two new missions with 4,200 Ethiopian troops heading for Sudan's troubled Abyei region and 7,000 to go to the new country of South Sudan.
"There are other countries where we might be called," the French diplomat added. Planning is already underway for an observer force for Libya, if a ceasefire is ever agreed.
However "the trend is clearly that European defense budgets are globally decreasing," Le Roy said, so their ability to help in faraway conflict zones will become limited.
The United States also relies on U.N. power.
"Ask President Barack Obama," said Le Roy. "He is very happy because we bring stability to so many countries where he cannot go. If we left the Congo, who else would go there? If we left the Sudan, who would be there to protect the population?"
The U.N. Security Council is adding to the demands with its growing calls for U.N. forces to better protect civilian populations.
"No army force in the world is trained to protect civilians. They are trained to make war, to be warriors. To protect civilians is a very specific task," said Le Roy "The Security Council says in one sentence in its mandate that you have to protect civilians under threat.
"That simple sentence raises a lot of expectations amongst the populations and the countries concerned," he continued.
So the U.N. is pressuring the 120 countries that contribute to the 15 peacekeeping missions around the world to change their training and ethics.
U.N. forces must be more "robust," the Security Council has ordered. That needs numbers, skills and equipment, according to the U.N. under-secretary-general.
That is why attack helicopters were needed in Ivory Coast this year to destroy weapons being used by Laurent Gbagbo, the president who refused to stand down after losing an election.
U.N. forces are also forced to get tougher in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Le Roy said.
Pressure has also mounted for the U.N. to overcome what Le Roy acknowledges were three major peacekeeping failures of the 1990s - at Srebenica in Bosnia, the Rwanda genocide and in Somalia - when troops could not or would not act.
"There were three big tragedies, three failures and since then we have changed tremendously," he said.
"We have reformed a lot to become more professional. It cannot be compared even to how we were five years ago."
Le Roy has had to tell U.N. commanders they must stay at their post on threatened bases, even when they were at risk.
"For me, there cannot be the Srebenica syndrome. This was the case in the Ivory Coast, Sudan. In Darfur, there were times when peacekeepers were threatened," he said.
"If I accept evacuation, the whole credibility of peacekeeping would be lost. Each time I said no. In each case it was not easy."
The U.N. has also had to confront cases of rape by peacekeepers.
According to U.N. figures, alleged attacks have dropped from 127 in 2007 to 84 last year, and Le Roy dismissed the perpetrators as "black sheep."
"Every army in the world has black sheep. We have 84 cases for 120,000 peacekeepers. That is 84 cases too many. But we have improved," Le Roy said, demanding credit for the good work done ending strife in Liberia and East Timor hailed by the countries' leaders.
"Perhaps some people in Haiti would like us to go. But who brought stability to Haiti? It was our operation. Who avoided the chaos after the earthquake? The peacekeepers," Le Roy said. "In Haiti, we declared war on the gangs in Cite Soleil.
"There may be some politicians who say we want to be a sovereign nation, but the populations at risk never say 'we want you to leave.'"