Translated by S. Chan
US-China tensions have been escalating since the coronavirus outbreak, as the two armies have appeared frequently in the Taiwan Strait, prompting fears that armed conflicts may suddenly occur. During a Legislative Yuan briefing on 7 May, Taiwan’s National Security Bureau chief Chiu Kuo-cheng said an armed conflict between China and the US might occur, but Taiwan would not intervene.
In the briefing session, KMT Chairman and lawmaker Chiang Kai-shen quoted a Reuters report saying that anti-Chinese sentiments around the world had risen to the highest level since the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 due to the epidemic. He added that Beijing had prepared for the worst-case scenario of armed conflicts. When asked what the most important factor in the US-China relationship would be in the next six months, Chiu Kuo-cheng said the impacts caused by the epidemic could be summed up as an “economic problem”, involving questions on where should production chains be located. He said China had capitalised on its locational advantage and developed its high-tech production capacity, causing an influx of high-tech personnel and technologies to China. Chiu added that Taiwan had to understand that countries around the world had reservations on the practices of China.
When asked about the likeliness of a US-China armed conflict, Chiu commented that a war would be “possible”, without mentioning how likely it would be, because he believed armed conflicts were a part of China’s action plan. When talking about situation in the South China Sea, he said the US had been calling for freedom of navigation in the region, but China had also been taking corresponding actions.
Chiang Kai-shen added that “proxy wars” occurred during the US-Soviet Cold War, although there was no intense armed conflict between the powers. However, Chiang said Taiwan would not become a “proxy” in the future because it adopted a self-defence strategy. He stated that conflicts would bring military, economic and technological impacts to Taiwan, so Taiwan had to strike a balance and stay away from the conflicts between the powers.
In addition, websites of several major Taiwan companies like CPC Corporation, Taiwan and Formosa Plastics have recently been hacked. Commentators expected more cyberattacks before the inauguration ceremony of President Tsai Ing-wen on 20 May. Chiu said there were more cyberattacks because the internet was more widely used during the epidemic. He added that Taiwan’s National Security Bureau understood the situation, but he did not believe the situation would be particularly special before 20 May. He emphasised that both the public and the National Security Bureau had to pay attention to and know more about cybersecurity in normal times.
Chiu admitted the source of attack could not be traced easily, but he confirmed that the attacks originated from overseas. He added that the authorities had been looking into some of attacks, and that the National Security Bureau would exchange information with other countries. “But no further comments can be made until we obtain more concrete information,” he said.