Missile drill is an exercise in politics
By Alan Fong, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- If war is the continuation of politics by other means, as Carl von Clausewitz famously said, then a modern missile drill is probably politics itself. For a nation as delicately positioned both geographically and politically as Taiwan, every missile drill calls for meticulous considerations.
September 27, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Taiwan yesterday fired a surface-to-air missile in a military exercise. The U.S.-made Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) was fired northeastward from a destroyer 60 nautical miles off the eastern county of Hualien. The proximity of the missile drill to the Japanese outlying island of Yonaguni raised concerns that the exercise was a response to Japan's decision to station troops there amid increased tensions concerning the Diaoyutai islands, whose sovereignty is disputed by Taiwan, mainland China and Japan. Lin Yu-fang (林郁芳), head of the Legislative Yuan's Diplomacy and National Defense Committee, dismissed the suggestion by stressing that the Ministry of National Defense had informed both the United States and Japan before yesterday's missile test.
Given Taiwan's current relations with its neighbors, eastward is the safest way to fire a test missile.
The United Evening News quoted an unnamed Navy official as saying that a missile drill off Taiwan's west coast could be seen as an act of provocation by mainland China. Taiwan might also risk losing electronic parameters of the missile to mainland military monitors. A northward launch, on the other hand, would put the missile in the sensitive waters near the Diaoyutai islands.
Even south is not a good direction. A southward SM-2 missile launched by Taiwan in a military exercise in the past almost reached the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) of the Philippines, the official was quoted by the UEN as saying. Given Taiwan's recently uneasy relations with the Southeast Asian nation, another near miss could create unneeded tensions.
Positioned right in the middle of the waters that have become a focal point of regional sovereignty disputes, Taiwan needs more than missile accuracy to keep its military training smooth.