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UMC founder calls on Taiwan to show readiness to defend itself

Entire adult population should get military training, says United Microelectronics' Robert Tsao

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Former UMC Chairman Robert Tsao.

Former UMC Chairman Robert Tsao. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In the event of conflict with China, Taiwan should not hope the U.S. sends troops but rather show the determination to defend itself, according to Robert Tsao (曹興誠), the founder and former chairman of United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC).

If Taiwan shows this determination, its allies and partners will naturally want to help out, he wrote on Facebook Saturday (March 5). The Taiwan-born Singaporean tycoon also slammed what he called Beijing’s "egregious misinterpretation of history" that tries to change the reality that Taiwan’s Republic of China and China’s People’s Republic of China are “not subordinate to one another,” citing a statement from President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) National Day speech last year.

The subject of Taiwan’s security has been attracting even greater attention since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Tsao lamented that it is embarrassing that Taiwan should fixate on the question of whether the U.S. would come to the country’s defense.

Taiwan has 23 million people, and the number of able-bodied citizens between 18 and 65 is over 10 million, he said. Were these to be trained properly, Taiwan would have at least 1 million elite soldiers, he contended. “So why does the country need to rely on the U.S.?”

Tsao pointed to Israel, saying that after fighting seven wars with countries in the Arab world, it has only ever requested the U.K. and U.S. supply weapons, not troops. When Ukraine was invaded by Russia, it also asked that weapons, not soldiers, be sent.

"The logic is simple. You can ask friends for help with some things, but defending your country from invasion is something you need to do yourself,” Tsao said. “The U.S. also understands this logic and will not easily dispatch troops to countries that are not striving hard to defend themselves.”

Tsao also contrasted how the U.S. presence in Afghanistan collapsed overnight after two decades with how Ukrainians are tenaciously defending their land. Kyiv has won worldwide sympathy and support for its brave defiance, he added.

Taiwan’s people should not ask Washington to send troops but rather call on their own government to provide venues to train the whole adult population to be reservists and to take charge of a wider variety of facilities and weapons systems, Tsao said. "Taiwan can train all its people to be soldiers and show a strong will to defend itself,” he said. “The U.S. and Japan will naturally be willing to provide weapons and training to Taiwan too."

As for whether the U.S. really would send troops, Tsao noted that Washington has warned the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) not to attack Taiwan for seven decades, dispatched naval and air forces to train in areas near Taiwan, and shared intelligence reports with Taiwan’s government. All of this, he said, has deterred Beijing from stepping across “Lei Pond,” referencing an ancient idiom roughly analogous with “crossing the Rubicon.”

“There are some opportunistic politicians in Taiwan that say the U.S. won’t send troops to Taiwan,” Tsao asserted, “but, I ask, do only army soldiers count as troops? The air force or navy don’t count?” he asked. He said the aim of this rhetoric is to damage the confidence of Taiwanese and spread panic among the public.

Tsao said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s irredentist attempt to change the status of Ukraine and the world order is “absolute madness.” He further stated that the CCP's position that Taiwan has been an indivisible part of Chinese territory since ancient times is even more insane and illogical.

"What is even more shocking is that elements in the (opposition) Kuomintang party actually support these crazy ideas from the CCP,” he said, warning that Taiwan must be on alert to "the danger these lunatics may bring us."