October 2015 – SOUTH CHINA SEA – There is a military storm brewing in the South China Sea and it will involve Taiwan, a U.S. national defense and strategic planning consultancy on Friday told a Washington conference. “China is maneuvering and building up its military forces with clear intent,” Global Strategies and Transformation president Paul Giarra said. Giarra told the Heritage Foundation think tank that Beijing had convinced the U.S. not to consider the nation in the context of geography or military operations. “We are thinking of Taiwan as a political problem that we want to go away,” he said at the conference, titled “Taiwan in the South China Sea.” “The Chinese have convinced us that in order to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, all we have to do is keep Taiwan quiet,” Giarra said.
“The trouble is, the situation in the Taiwan Strait is neither peaceful nor stable,” he said. “Taiwan, in its most appropriate military operational perspective, is a key geostrategic bastion and this is what the Chinese don’t want us to think about.” Giarra said that China wants to minimize the Taiwan issue and Washington to think of the nation as nothing but a distraction. However, in geostrategic and military operational terms, securing Taiwan would be a great advantage, he said. “By virtue of its location, Taiwan challenges the People’s Republic of China’s control of its broad ocean approaches,” Giarra said. He said this “compelling” geostrategic reality had been lost in the propaganda, psychological and political warfare going on between China and the rest of the world.
“Either Taiwan is going to be on our side and an advantage for us or in the blink of an eye political change could make Taiwan an advantage for China,” he said. China is building up its air, naval and missile forces to take control of the South China Sea, he added. “They are trying to convince us that if we will only go along, we will all get rich and it will all be peaceful,” he said. Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Dean Cheng (成斌) said the “first island chain” is a barrier to China in the hands of adversaries, but would be a shield if most of it was controlled by Beijing. “What we do in the South China Sea will affect how Beijing sees us and what China is doing there should affect how we perceive them,” Cheng said.
He said that with the U.S. having not gone within 12 nautical miles (22.2km) of artificial islands being developed by China and having not exerted its sphere of influence, Beijing would interpret the inaction as weakness. “If China believes it can intimidate neighbors or the United States [over] the South China Sea [issue], it has implications for Taiwan,” Cheng said. If Washington was seen as failing to live up to the Taiwan Relations Act by not providing the nation with arms, “that too will be read by Beijing,” he said. “The United States must act and it must act now,” he added. He said the U.S. should send coast guard cutters to the South China Sea to guarantee freedom of navigation. At the same time, U.S. President Barack Obama should sell at least one more package of arms to Taiwan before he leaves office, he said. “At the end of the day, Taiwan is part of the South China Sea issue and the South China Sea relates to Taiwan security,” Cheng said. –Taipei Times