Cross-strait detente not equal to security inertia: president
CNATAIPEI--President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that although cross-Taiwan Strait relations are now in their best shape in more than six decades, the existing detente does not imply that Taiwan has been inactive in bolstering its national defense.
January 17, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
“We cannot afford to relax our combat preparedness and defense buildup because military strength is indispensable in safeguarding national security and the well-being of the people,” Ma said at a ceremony honoring former Chief of General Staff Gen. Lin Chen-yi.
Describing the goals of his administration's China policy as maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait, promoting regional peace and protecting citizens' rights, dignity and well-being, Ma said the military should always be on high alert and should not lack an “enemy consciousness.”
“Combat preparedness is not aimed at sparking armed conflict but rather at preventing and stemming armed conflict,” Ma said, adding that the military should pursue its defense build-up based on existing foundations.
Pro-independence activists and opposition parties have criticized Ma's conciliatory approach toward China, arguing that it has created confusion over who the enemy really is and compromised the country's security preparations.
Meanwhile, Ma acknowledged that the military will face difficult challenges this year as it undertakes a major overhaul.
The military is introducing an all-volunteer recruitment system and downsizing of the armed forces, targeting a force level of 215,000 servicemen by 2015.
“I hope all of our men and women in uniform will work hand-in-hand to overcome difficulties and carry out the reform programs so that our new national defense system can operate without any glitches and fulfill its targeted functions,” Ma urged.
Acknowledging public concerns over the move toward an all-volunteer military, Ma said the decision was made only after a careful study concluded that the volunteer system was the only way for the military to maintain its combat capability and face future challenges.
“Therefore, I hope all military service personnel will embrace the new system and new work environment and spare no effort to improve their combat prowess,” Ma added.
He also lauded Gen. Lin, who is now a strategy adviser, for his outstanding achievements during his three-year 11-month tenure as chief of General Staff.
Ma praised him for his role in reinforcing the military's emergency response capability, restructuring force deployments, streamlining the command hierarchy, restructuring the Defense Ministry, developing a mechanism for the armed forces' participation in post-disaster relief and crafting a new servicemen taxation system.