From China Brief (Volume 7, Issue 23):
With Taiwan’s 2008 Legislative Yuan (LY) election in January and the presidential elections following in March, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) has unveiled a security policy platform that reveals a notable degree of convergence with the policy preferences of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The defense policy white paper the KMT released in September 2007 and the foreign policy document it issued in November emphasize strengthening Taiwan’s defense posture and stabilizing cross-Strait relations. The KMT security strategy presented in these documents is surprisingly similar to the DPP’s approach in certain respects. Most notably the defense white paper emphasizes the KMT’s support for increasing defense spending to at least 3 percent of GDP, which is consistent with President Chen’s most recent request for a higher level of military spending. Nonetheless, the content of the KMT’s defense and foreign policy white papers and subsequent commentaries made by KMT politicians and defense analysts also reveal some key differences between the security strategies of the two parties. At the strategic level, the KMT appears to place much greater emphasis on a conciliatory approach toward China and a moderation of Taiwan’s approach to cross-Strait relations. The KMT and DPP also have differences on some key defense strategy issues. In particular, many KMT defense policy analysts have opposed President Chen’s plans to deploy missiles capable of striking key targets in mainland China, and KMT legislators recently blocked some of the funding for the program (Reuters, October 18). In analyzing the KMT’s security policy, of course, it is important to keep in mind that its defense and foreign policy white papers reflect not only the party’s security policy preferences, but also its strategy for defeating the DPP in the two 2008 elections. [Full Text]
Michael S. Chase is an Assistant Professor in the Strategy and Policy Department at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.