HONG KONG, China, China, Taiwan and Singapore all share the Chinese language and culture. Yet due to their different positions in the international sphere and the capabilities of their respective military industries, the three have chosen very different military strategies and weapons systems. It is interesting to compare the three approaches.
First, in terms of military strategy, China is now gradually transforming itself from the passive defense of the Cold War years to today's active defense, with balanced offensive and defensive capabilities. China's navy is also turning from coastal defense to offshore defense.
The two sides of the Taiwan Strait are now under abnormal adversarial conditions. Taiwan's strategic goal has changed from staging large-scale counterattacks on mainland China to engaging in a decisive battle away from Taiwan Island and establishing balanced offensive and defensive capabilities.
Singapore's approach is proactive defense, typical of a small country. Since Singapore is much better off than other countries in the region, and it has a sensitive historical relationship with Malaysia, Singapore's national defense policy has followed the dual-track principle of diplomacy and deterrence.
While building up formidable military strengths to dissuade potential enemies from reckless action, Singapore also tries to reinforce its national defense through diplomatic ties, hoping it will receive support from the outside world should the regional situation deteriorate. Singapore learned from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that wealth does not equal peace.
The military strategies and doctrines of Singapore and Taiwan are becoming increasingly close. Both are attempting to establish effective deterrence against potential adversaries through building up their military machines. Both also rely on the diplomatic or even military involvement of world powers should they face a protracted conflict.
By procuring large batches of arms and establishing special military ties with the United States, both Singapore and Taiwan hope to guarantee their own security, expecting that the United States would come to their rescue should a major conflict arise.
Singapore's practice of purchasing AIM-120C air-to-air missiles and storing these weapon systems in the United States is clearly an attempt to establish a tangible military alliance with the United States and to integrate diplomatic deterrence with military deterrence. If a conflict broke out, Singapore would inevitably ask the United States to deliver the weapon systems stored on U.S. territory, which would make it impossible for the United States to remain neutral.
Taiwan's approach in recent years has been more or less similar. For the same purpose, Singapore may also deposit the 66 Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks it procured from Germany in Australia, as a tactic to contain the latest move of the Malaysian army to import PT91M main battle tanks from Poland.
Secondly, Singapore hopes to win additional layers of protection through its "diplomatic deterrence" strategy. Through reinforcing its ties with Australia, Canada and the joint defense cooperation among the five ASEAN countries, Singapore intends to implement the strategy of multi-layered diplomatic deterrence; that is, using different diplomatic deterrence strategies to deal with different adversaries.
In recent years, Taiwan has also sought to weaken the dominance of the United States in the dynamics of the Taiwan Strait and actively expand its military exchanges with Japan, Australia and India, with the same strategic objectives as Singapore.
Although China, Taiwan and Singapore all seek to balance their offensive and defensive capabilities, Singapore's navy and air force have the most advanced Western military technologies and the most formidable attack power in comparison with Taiwan and China. In other words, in implementing the strategy of balanced offensive and defensive deterrence, the Singaporean military forces place much greater emphasis on offensive operations than the Taiwanese and Chinese forces.
Singapore's "active defense" strategy is probably influenced by traditional British military ideology. Similar traces can be found in the military strategies of fellow former British colonies India and Pakistan. With the import of 12 plus 8 F-15ST fighters from the United States, Singapore has become the first of the three militaries to acquire joint direct attack munition bombs.
In addition, Singapore has acquired APG-63V3 active electronically scanned array radar systems ahead of Japan and Korea. The Singaporean air force is also equipped with 20 of the most powerful AN-64D attack helicopters in the region.
Due to the differences in the combat capabilities of their prospective adversaries, Taiwan and Singapore also have different deterrence strengths. The powerful offensive weapon systems mentioned above are already sufficient to give Singapore the capability to paralyze the enemy through preemptive standoff operations, which could be followed by diplomatic measures to resolve the conflict.
Singapore's latest replacements of military equipment, particularly in the navy and air force, show that the deterrence capability it aspires to is not directed solely at Malaysia. Thanks to the procurement of F-16 Block52 fighters and the KC-135R tanker, plus the fact that four E-2C aerial early warning aircraft are already in service, the Singaporean air force can now project its power over almost all of Southeast Asia.
Singapore is already armed with 70 F-16 fighters, among which 62 are F-16 Block52s. These fighters are equipped with the Israeli Python-4 and AIM120C AAM. The Taiwanese air force also dreams of acquiring the F-16 Block52. Both the Singaporean and the Taiwanese air forces are equipped with AGM-65G infrared-guided anti-ship missiles.
Singapore is favored by the West and Russia and has experienced no restrictions in the import of arms. Unlike Taiwan, Singapore has access to diversified weapons sources. The Singaporean army is equipped with Russian Igla (SA-18) ground-to-air missiles, for example.
As for military cooperation between Singapore and Taiwan, there has been constant speculation and many unconfirmed reports about this. Sources say that Singapore's batch of SA-18 missiles was actually ordered by Taiwan. Both Taiwan and Singapore are now employing the French-made La Fayette guided missile frigates (FFGs). The Singaporean variant of the La Fayette and the same model of FFG assembled indigenously are called the Delta Project, which has undergone major upgrading, but the price is said to be less than two-thirds the price Taiwan paid for its La Fayettes. Obviously the two received far different treatment in their purchase deals.
As a matter of fact, Israel has close ties with all three of the militaries under discussion. Singapore's ground forces, air force and navy use a lot of Israel-made equipment. The Singaporean navy's "Victory" class missile patrol boats are equipped with the Barak I vertical launch surface-to-air systems made by Israel Aerospace Industries/Rafael, while the F-16 Block52 fighters of the Singaporean air force are equipped with Israeli-designed electronic warfare systems.
As is widely known, both Taiwan and Singapore have acquired Gabriel I surface-to-surface missiles from Israel's IAI. In addition, Singapore has also purchased submarines from Sweden. In 1990, Singapore received the first batch of two A17 submarines, and four Sjoormen-class submarines were delivered to Singapore in 2004. The Sjoormen submarine has a standard displacement of 1,130 tons. As a result, Singapore has become the first country in Southeast Asia with genuine underwater combat capability.
Since international attitudes toward Singapore have been the most open and favorable, it has had the broadest training opportunities for its military personnel. The pilots of the Singaporean air force not only receive training in the United States, they also actively participate in joint military exercises with India, Australia and other countries, including joint naval and air force operations. The Singaporean air force has even carried out confrontational exercises in which the Su-30MKI fighter planes faced Singapore's F-16 Block52s.
(Andrei Chang is editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto Canada.)
Personally, I have a question: What sort of a name is Pinkov, why is he also listed as Andrei Chang? Is he half-Russian? Personally, I've never even HEARD of Pinkov as a surname... and if it is a real one, it sounds silly.
Anyway, link taken from comrade TPHuang's site. I must say that I agree with him in that I am by now seriously doubting Mr. Chang's grasp of reality, which never seems that strong to begin with. I read an article on Kanwa (well, a translation of said article), which compared current People's Republic to 1949 KMT, and in another, he kept on insinuating that People's Republic does not care about human life and has low 'national quality' (whatever that means, he also has a photo of Chinese people littering, so...) so can sustain massive casualties without a blink. Of course, according to that logic, KMT armies should be never surrendering easily and running away in Civil war... given how CCP armies treat soldiers much better. That's the very example he cited in the before-article. In short, I find his idea to hold completely contradictory ideas in his head breath-taking.