Taiwan's Military Flexes its Muscles
Image Credit: J. Michael Cole

Taiwan's Military Flexes its Muscles


The Taiwanese military recently held the 29th edition of its Han Kuang series of exercises with a display of force unseen since President Ma Ying-jeou came into office in 2008. A total of 7,682 soldiers from the Air Force, Navy and Army took part in the counter-assault exercise on the outlying island of Penghu that simulated an amphibious attack by the People’s Liberation Army.

Although this was not, as initially reported, the first time that the drill involved live ammunition since 2008, the government actively sought to portray the exercise as something more muscular than in the past. Also contrary to early reports, this was not the first public unveiling of the Ray Ting-2000 multiple rocket launcher in action, but the thunderous barrage of 81 rockets fired by the nine vehicles was a sight to behold. More show than meaningful military exercise, perhaps, but the result did not disappoint the several dozens of reporters, local and foreign, who awoke at 4 AM to witness the event.

January 13, 2014 at 17:56

IMHO, sooner or later, willing to or not, Taiwan will be one part of China, I just hope the procedure will not SO bloody.

September 17, 2013 at 09:43

Miao Miao, I know the great firewall of china may make it difficult for you to do proper historical research, but rest assured, China does not own Taiwan. Nor, is Taiwan a country of rebels, in fact, it would be more accurate to label the People's Republic of China as the country of rebels. If you do your homework, you will learn that the ROC — lead by the Kuomintang – was the ruling government of mainland china prior to the Communist takeover in 1949. Having lost the war, the ROC relocated to Taiwan and its surrounding islands — where it resides today. 

I cannot blame you for having your point of view, since nationalist, socialist countries, such as the PRC, put a lot of resources into revising history and keeping their citizens ignorant of actual historical events. In fact, the citizens of germany had no idea that the holocaust had occurred until the 1980's, when VHS tapes with documentaries about the holocaust began making their way into the country.

Billy Wong
December 20, 2013 at 06:22

“If you do your homework, you will learn that the ROC — lead by the Kuomintang – was the ruling government of mainland china prior to the Communist takeover in 1949″. For a regime that lasted so short, can you really call it legitimate? Not to mention their pitiful efforts against the Japanese during those harsh days… for better or worse, it’s little wonder they lost their ‘mandate’, and fled. I do acknowledge that the PRC has brainwashed many with their propaganda, and still try to. But Taiwanese identity/culture is so contrived…

Chamlong Nerkpang
May 21, 2013 at 15:20

Since when did anybody gave you the authority to speak on their behalf when you make preposterous BS remarks like "Nobody outside of PRC takes China's claim seriously"? I happen to take Beijing's claims seriously. What a nutcase.

May 20, 2013 at 20:53

Seriously? China has “documents” to prove that it owns the entire world! Nobody outside of the PRC takes China’s claims seriously.

Miao Miao
May 20, 2013 at 00:16

Taiwan belongs to China, they have documents to prove that. Taiwan is nation of rebels. Civil War, not Invasion would be the correct term to describe what happens once China reclaims Taiwan.

May 17, 2013 at 18:27

Cyrus wrote:

May 16, 2013 at 8:31 pm

You do not know Politics if it will then there is a chance it will loose US Backing, especially there has been on going calls to abandon Taiwan since it appears Taiwan itself is unwilling to stand up for itself.


You mean Taiwan is unwilling to stand up for the US against mainland China.  Of course, the US is "helping" only to the extent to use it (Taiwan) as a pawn to attack mainland China.  Who doesn't know that?  And it is precisely because of this that the Taiwan people no longer want to be America's sacrificial pawn to attack its own ethnic brothers.  And the time is approaching where the peoples of the two parts of China are coming to the common understanding that they have more to gain from mutual unity than to fight against each other for other people's benefit.  This is a good thing to happen if it can show the Taiwan people of what happens when they sell out to the Japan-US-Philippines gang.  Taiwan will not be "protected" by this vicious gang but will only be beaten up and kicked around.  Ma has brought this on Taiwan.  This is the wage of betrayal.

December 14, 2013 at 12:18

Tawain IS Chinese people they have no desire to confront one another. Culture you bet Chinese values are taught and entrenched and retained in Natonalistic ways. Its just a matter of perception on your part. A distinct difference in idealogical governing bodies beliefs. However the populace of Tawain seems to be a little bit more modern and enjoy more earned freedoms.

Lin Yu-chen
May 17, 2013 at 12:04

What muscles? A Taiwanese fisherman got shot and many would had been too, by indiscriminate gangsteric Filipino Coastguard action on the order it its captain. So what is Taiwan doing agains such Filipino high seas terrorism? Maybe it is only good at flexing muscles agains an imaginary enemy only?  Taiwanese navy and coastguards should sink a few Japanese Coastguards cutter!.

May 17, 2013 at 08:25

Leonard R. wrote:

May 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm

"U.S. is going to back Taiwan or the Philippine aggressors?

It is a no-brainer. The Philppines is a US ally. Taiwan is a part of China.

BTW, with all that firepower, I wonder if the ROC is planning to land on Luzon, perhaps with the PLA in support? Lining up tanks on the beach is not a smart strategy for fighting a sea-born invasion. It might make sense if you're loading them onto ships though.

Congratulations to Manila BTW. It has started shooting at long last. It was exactly the correct thing to do. Next stop, Panatag Reef?


Taiwan may be a part of China but its trade with US is bigger than the US-Philippines trade.

Taiwan-US trade in 2011: $85 billion [1]

Philippines-US trade in 2012: $17.64 billion [2]

Obviously, the Taiwan-US trade is more important to the US.  It is obvious also that the US wants to intimidate Taiwan to whip it into line to support the American encirclement of China.  It would not surprise me if the US had put pressure on Taiwan to sell out to Japan over Diaoyu Islands.  Now this is just another crack on Taiwan's head to warn it to toe the American line.  The question is, is Taiwan willing to take this maltreatment from the US?  Philippines itself is nothing in Taiwan's eyes.  Militarily, Taiwan can wipe the floors with Philippines.  It is always the US.  The good thing with so many provocations, both China and Taiwan are now realizing they can no longer rely on "friendship" with the US.  And the US can no longer provide much benefit both in terms of trade and security.  Taiwan's trade with mainland will in time increase to some $200 billion or more and more than enough to offset the loss of the US trade.  At that time, Taiwan will have no interest with taking any denigration from the US.

As to Philippines' attacking Taiwan fishing boat being a good thing, it might be a good thing for China if it (China) is going to take this as the opportunity it has been waiting for to fire back and kick Philippines out of the 9-Dotted Lines entirely.  And anybody who thinks it is a good thing to kill innocent fishermen show themselves to be callous monsters.  Obviously, the lives of Chinese people whether from the mainland or Taiwan or Singapore are not worth considering to any Americans.  I hope the Chinese leadership will take careful note of this and stop thinking China is being noble by repaying attacks with benevolence.  The only way to deal with attacks is by counter-attacks.

[1] http://www.ustr.gov/countries-regions/china/taiwan

[2] http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5650.html

May 17, 2013 at 08:00

TV Monitor wrote:

May 16, 2013 at 6:04 am

@ Liang1a

Ma is as Pro-China has a Taiwanese politican comes. Should a Democratic Progressive Party candidate win Taiwanese presidency, he would be talking about declaring the Republic of Taiwan instead.


Ma is maybe better than DPP.  Or KMT is better than DPP as far as being less hostile to the mainland is concerned.  But that does not mean Ma is the most patriotic Chinese there is, or that KMT is a patriotic party dedicated to the Chinese nation.  The problem to a large degree has been created by the mainland being too weak and dependent on the US and Japan due to exports.  Taiwan obviously looks down on the mainland because it sees the CCP as a bunch of lackeys all selling out to the US and Japan.  Obviously, Ma does not wish and dare not fight Japan and the US.  It is a complex Gordian Knot.  The solution of all these convoluted problems is for the mainland to slash all these knots by understanding that China's strategic economic oppotunity does not lie in exports but in developing China's own domestc economy through the indigenous advancemnt of technologies and the urbanization of the rural residents and making China energy self-sufficient.  Then as China minimizes the importance of exports, it can become less dependent on and survile to Japan and the US.  At the same time China must immediately expand its military, especially in deploying at least 8,000 nuclear warheads with 2,000 of them on active status.  Then with Chinese economy developing independently, and Chinese military able to withstand the worst attacks from any combination of foes, China can become more assertive in the protection of its sovereignty and so project a more honorable image and so win the respect and the willingness of Taiwan for common government under one nation.

May 17, 2013 at 04:27


"Fishermen AND coast guards are used as military and diplomatic tools. How DO YOU "phan bien" this?"

mary pham
May 17, 2013 at 02:34

Where was Taiwan when Chinese Navy ship shot and burnt down a Vietnamese fishing boat 65 miles from the coast of Vietnam, with 8 human beings on board? It's tragic what happened to the Taiwanese fisherman and the Philippines irresponsibly overreacted in the disputed water, regardless of versions of the incident. Taiwan, however can not allow China, the only proven aggressor in the South China Sea to seize this opportunity ( which they have repeatedly done in the past ) to benefit itself. Remember, China may have been bullying South East Asian neighbors often, their #1 target and first invasion will be Taiwan.

May 17, 2013 at 01:51

@ nirvana,


Nice write up, as usual. But you forgot a few items.


How about the sailors of South Vietnam being killed without justification at Paracel Islands in 1974? How about the sailors of Vietnam being killed while on an unarmed ship at Spartly Islands in 1988? How about the cutting of cables on unarmed survey ships deep inside the 200 miles EEZ of Vietnam as recently as last year? How about the 1000 years of enslavement by china/chinese? And so on.


Funny how chinese posters "forgot" about those facts.

May 17, 2013 at 00:31

@ Nguoi Phan Bien

If you are indeed a Vietnamese, where were you when Chinese navy ships (disguised as Maritime enforcement) shot, killed, rammed, ransomed Vietnamese fishermen? ( I wish the Vietnamese coastguard could do what Filippino counterpart did). You disgust us, all Vietnamese here. Let be clear on this, you have tear to shreds on a Chinese poacher killed but indifferent on those innocent Vietnamese killed by the robbers of theirs traditional fishing water. This is clearly telling us who you are. Shame on you! I recommend you should get rid of the Vietnamese name and be who you really are.


May 16, 2013 at 20:41

Taiwan is not an ally it is a US Protectorate by the Taiwan Relations Act. The Philippines is a TREATY ALLY of the United States as exemplified by the Mutual Defense Treaty and with how Philippines supported the US in Korea and Vietnam.

May 16, 2013 at 20:31

You do not know Politics if it will then there is a chance it will loose US Backing, especially there has been on going calls to abandon Taiwan since it appears Taiwan itself is unwilling to stand up for itself.

Share your thoughts

Your Name
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief