Taiwan, Japan should reconsider response to Chinese incursions: Fmr. USPACOM Commander

Adm. Dennis Blair says Taiwan and Japan are degrading military readiness and wasting resources with consistent policy of 'intercept and escort' operations for Chinese incursions

PLAN aircraft (Image from Chinese media)

PLAN aircraft (Image from Chinese media)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A former commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Dennis Blair, published an address for the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA on Aug. 22, urging Taiwan and Japan to take a tougher and more proactive stance to resist Chinese militarism and aggression in the region.

In his statement, Blair asserts that it is of the utmost importance for Japan and Taiwan to make the Chinese government, and Japanese and Taiwanese citizens aware of the effectiveness of their armed forces’ wartime capability, while also recognizing the distinction between wartime and peacetime operations.

The admiral cautions Taiwan and Japan against their current policy of “intercept and escort everything.” He warns that these operations ultimately waste valuable resources and actually downgrade the military readiness of Taiwanese and Japanese forces.

By continually reacting and dispatching jets or naval vessels to every incursion, Blair says this provides China’s PLA forces with critical intelligence involving reaction time and surveillance equipment capabilities. According to Blair, China is effectively conditioning Japan and Taiwan to jump on command.

“Japan and Taiwan, with their ‘intercept everything’ policies, are degrading their readiness to defend their territory in conflict, lowering deterrence of Chinese military aggression” says Blair.

Adm. Dennis Blair (Wikimedia Commons)

To remedy this without appearing weak or incapable, Blair says Japan and Taiwan should focus on honing tactical skills and being more selective in which airspace incursions they intercept, rather than lying in wait to conduct “intercept and escort” operations every time the PLA enter their territory.

Blair essentially encourages the Pacific Island nations to respond in kind to Chinese incursions into their territorial waters and airspace.

He suggests that the armed forces of Japan and Taiwan should consider making their own incursions in to Chinese territorial waters or airspace in the same manner that Chinese vessels enter theirs.

In a peacetime situation, China’s likely intercept operation and strong condemnation of the incursions would stand in contrast to their own PLA vessels entering into foreign territory, and Beijing's assertions of peaceful, legal maritime operations.

Blair suggests this would make China’s hypocrisy apparent to all observers, and also increase public confidence in the willingness of Japanese and Taiwanese forces to stand up to aggression in the region.

Another more provocative suggestion is one related to the Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning. He recommends that the next time the Liaoning passes through the Taiwan Strait, that Taiwan’s armed forces use the opportunity to conduct war time simulations targeting the interloping carrier.

Blair says these measures would offer real time training, keeping Taiwanese forces on their toes for genuine combat scenarios, while also making it clear to the Chinese that their military craft are vulnerable, and that Taiwan will not remain passive or predictable in response to China's threatening “gunboat diplomacy.”

The full statement can be read on the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA website.