ROC should battle pirates
The China Post news staffFollowing a series of pirate attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the coast of Somalia, the United Nations Security Council has urged naval powers around the world to dispatch ships to the region and combat piracy. And in recent days, reports have suggested our government is seriously considering heeding the call by dispatching naval forces to the region.
January 12, 2009, 9:22 am TWN
At first, the reports were not taken seriously given Taiwan's isolated position in the international community. But after officials confirmed that the idea had been suggested by President Ma Ying-jeou, politicians have started their usual arguing over the practicality of dispatching a frigate or two to the region.
Critics have scoffed at the idea of attempting to take part in the anti-piracy efforts. But supporters have said this is a highly unusual chance for our country to demonstrate its willingness and ability to play a constructive role in international affairs. The importance of maintaining safe shipping lanes in this troubled part of the world cannot be underestimated, since our economy depends on exports and many of the cargo vessels making their way through the Gulf of Aden region are carrying goods either made in Taiwan or made by Taiwan-owned factories in mainland China.
If Taiwan was not isolated in the international community because of Beijing's claim to sovereignty over our territory, the world would hardly be surprised to hear that our naval forces had been dispatched to protect ships there.
Some critics have alleged that our naval forces are woefully unprepared to carry out a mission so far away from home. These critics clearly have not bothered to do any research on the issue.
As a matter of fact, the ROC Navy is even better prepared to carry out missions far away from Taiwan's shores than naval forces of many countries around the world. For decades, ROC naval vessels have made successful voyages to our dwindling number of diplomatic allies around the world that are much further away than the Gulf of Aden. Before South Africa cut ties with our government in the 1990s, naval vessels from Taiwan routinely sailed to ports in South Africa, leaving the country for months at a time. During those voyages, the naval vessels were unable to make calls at ports along the way due to the sensitive nature of Taiwan's international status. The missions were carried out without a hitch and valuable experience was gained along the way. As a matter of fact, the Lafayette-class frigates our Navy purchased from France are especially designed to carry out long-distance missions to French colonies and far-flung countries of interest to France. But even before we acquired the Lafayette frigates, carrying out long-distance voyages and missions was nothing new to the ROC armed forces.