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June 27, 2017

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'Fighting Little Ing' has returned, but she has no hope of winning

Tsai Ing-wen is a little woman not an Amazonian warrior. She had the nickname "Little Ing" for a long time before she became the chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in 2008. Less than three months later, Chen Yunling, president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, came to Taipei from Beijing in November of the same year for the first time to sign a few agreements with his Taiwan counterpart Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤), chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation. The two semi-official organizations conduct "unofficial" relations between Taiwan and China.

As the DPP's first female chair, Little Ing started the Chen Yunlin Incident in Taipei on Nov. 8, 2008. She led a siege of the five-star Regent hotel Taipei, where Chen was attending a banquet hosted by Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄), chairman of the ruling Kuomintang. There were clashes between police and her Red Guards. A number of besieging protesters and police officers were injured. She got the new pet name of "Fighting Little Ing."

The siege endeared her to DPP supporters, catapulting her to presidency last year after a defeat in 2012.

President Tsai has metamorphosed back to Fighting Little Ing again. Her enemy still is China. She announced on Feb. 7 Taiwan would spend US$2.19 billion to build 66 jet trainers to beef up a dwindling Air Force that is no match for China's.

The Ministry of National Defense, National Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology (CIST) and the Aerospace Industry Development Corporation will jointly develop the homemade trainer craft and deliver them by 2026. Last Tuesday, Tsai went to the Tsoying Naval Base near Kaohsiung to make another announcement, while overseeing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the CIST and the formally state-owned China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSC). She said Taiwan would

build its own submarines to get around China's efforts to prevent it from purchasing subs from abroad.

The new conventional subs will be designed and built by the CIST and the CSC. According to the submarine-building plan, it's going to take at least four years to design at the cost of no less than NT$2 billion (US$66 million). The cost of building hasn't yet been estimated, but the first prototype is scheduled to be launched in eight years, and it takes two more years to commission the as yet undecided number of subs. In other words, the first indigenous sub will be commissioned 10 years from now.

Yet, Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said the planned fleet would protect Taiwan and U.S. bases from China, and vowed to shoot down any missiles fired at the island. He added Beijing had included new medium-range ballistic missiles in a terrifying arsenal of 1,500 rockets aimed at Taiwan amid heightened tensions between China and its neighboring territories, and promised "We will build our own subs bolstered by fresh arms sales from the United States to shoot them down."

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