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May 27, 2017

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President Ma vows to avoid China arms race

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday Taiwan is unlikely to engage in an arms race with China and will instead seek a balance of military power across the Taiwan Strait through innovative and asymmetric approaches.

"The cross-strait standoff has continued for over six decades. Although the Chinese mainland is still actively beefing up its military might, we see no need and are not likely to follow suit," Ma said in a speech delivered at a meeting of the Cabinet-level Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission (OCAC).

"What we should do is use our soft power to reduce tensions and lead cross-strait relations to move on the track of peaceful development," Ma said at the 2010 annual conference of OCAC commissioners.

In pursuing a cross-strait balance of military power, Ma said, his administration will focus on figuring out innovative and asymmetric strategies to build up an elite deterrent force to avert war.

"We will continue working hard ingeniously to boost peaceful development and ease tensions so that a cross-strait military conflict will become increasingly less likely," Ma pledged.

By an asymmetric approach, Ma is referring to asymmetric warfare — in which the two sides' military power and resources differ significantly and strategies also differ significantly. Such an approach may not involve military action, but rather tactics of unconventional warfare in which the "weaker" side uses strategies that offset its deficiencies in military might.

In an encouraging sign, Ma noted, significant progress has been made in relations with China over the past two and a half years under his administration's efforts to promote a cross-strait detente.

"The two sides have signed several major agreements to institutionalize their increasingly closer commercial ties and the signing of the cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) in June will further facilitate normalization of bilateral trade and investment and contribute to regional peace and prosperity," Ma said.

The ECFA will not only contribute to Taiwanese companies' penetration of the vast Chinese market, but will also help protect Taiwan from being marginalized in the process of Asia-Pacific economic integration, according to the president.

The agreement will also boost Taiwan's economic globalization, he noted.

"Cross-strait detente has a positive significance to our bid to raise our international profile. The move has won us wide international recognition and Southeast and Northeast Asian nations have shown increasing interest in forging closer ties with Taiwan since the ECFA signing," Ma added.

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