Thursday, May 23, 2013

Taiwan Conducts Naval Exercises - A Direct Provocation to the Philippines?

After a shooting incident just off the northern islands of the Philippines between a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) crewed but Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) owned patrol boat and 4 Taiwanese fishing boats, tensions have risen between the 2 countries. Taiwan has been noted in an earlier blog here at MaxDefense (MD) to have shown over-reaction by both in its citizenry, media and the government under President Ma Ying-jeou in its actions against the Philippines.

After imposing massive amounts of economic and cooperative sanctions, the Taiwanese government also approved the conducting of military exercises by their navy and air forces just off the Batanes Island's waters in the Bashi Channel. According to the Taiwanese government, this is a show of their strength and resolve to protect their fishermen. At the same time Taiwanese hawks see this as a showoff to the Philippine government that they can crush the relatively weaker and "chihuahua" Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force.

In response, Philippine president Aquino did not yield to Taiwan's show of strength, and instead let the Taiwanese have their exercises without interference or presence of nearby Philippine naval assets.

ROCS Ma Kong (DDG-1805) shows off its RIM-66 Standard  AAM
(photo taken from Associated Press)

According to most news sources, the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) aka Taiwanese Navy deployed ROCS Ma Kong (DDG-1805), a Kidd-class destroyer (known as Kee Lung-class in Taiwan service), and the ROCS Chen De (FFG-1208), a Kang Ding-class frigate (modified Lafayette-class from France) together with their respective ship-borne helicopters, and 2 missile boats. The Coast Guard Administration deployed 4 patrol vessels, while the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) aka Taiwanese Air Force deployed a mix of Mirage 2000 and Ching Kuo F-CK-1 fighters, plus an E-2K Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft.

An S-70C Seahawk helicopter taking-off from a Lafayette-class frigate  during the exercises  on May 16, 2013.
(photo taken from Associated Press)

This military exercises, according to the Taiwanese Navy, was meant to assist the CGA in protecting Taiwanese fishermen. But to do this they sent their most capable warships assisted by scores of ROCAF fighter and surveillance assets. Was it really necessary to send these military assets for a fishermen protection exercise?

ROCAF Mirage 2000-5. One reportedly crashed in another exercises last week.

It appears that the exercise includes scenarios on detection of enemy air and naval forces, as well as search and rescue scenarios. But was it really their intended exercise scope?

MaxDefense sources say that the Taiwanese military was not really able to carry out its original intentions for the military exercises, which is to use live ammunition in a simulated attack on hostile enemy naval forces by joint naval and air assets. This is because of "strong external pressure" from a "common ally" not to do so, or face sanctions against their already struggling military ammunition support and equipment spare parts and supply line. Although no external pressure was applied, the Aquino administration also received "friendly advices" to avoid biting on any provocation from Taiwan in exchange for further support in strengthening the armed forces during President Aquino's remaining 3-year term.

ROCS Ma Kong crew using fire fighting hoses as part of the naval drills
(photo taken from Reuters)
Later on Taiwan would declare that it did not use live ammunition in the entire exercises as not to provoke the Philippines. It only means that if not for such external pressure, it will indeed provoke the Philippines.

Covering such attempted actions will be useless as it only shows that Taiwan does want to have to take military action against the Philippines, and it appears the Philippine government knows of the sudden change of plans by Taiwan. And these changes does and will not remove any doubt on the Taiwanese government's intentions, instead placing Taiwan as a perceived threat in any Philippine military and even economic planning in the future.

MaxDefense' opinion is that Taiwan was again over-reacting by making such provocations that further degrade the relationship between them and the Philippines. The Aquino administration's timidness on this issue is already a sign that the Philippines is not willing to make this issue more complicated that it already is but Taiwan's signals shows that Taiwan had its advantage in moral ground thrown down the gutter for its national gains without consideration of its implications to the friendly relations with a very supportive and a co-democratic neighbor.

Philippine Navy assets are aging but plans are underway for new ships to replace them.

Although militarily and economically weak, neighbors like Taiwan tend to forget that such actions against the Philippines will only push it further to strengthen itself, with a negative effect to Taiwan defense planners. Instead of counting on the Philippine military as an ally against a growing threat of communist Chinese aggression, now they need to consider their formerly friendly neighbor as a threat, to the joy of the Chinese communist government. With the expected rise of the Philippine economy and increases in yearly defense budget, one can only ask what the "puny and weak" Philippine military might be several years from now.

Whether all actions made by Taiwan up to now are because of selfish personal gains of Taiwanese president Ma or not, it would not matter anymore as President Ma's actions are officially Taiwan's actions.


  1. a lot of taiwanese are known sore losers.i'm not saying all, but a considerable number are unsportsmanlike. i fear for the safety of our national basketball team when they face the much inferior and trying hard taiwanese basketball team in the jones cup.

  2. sigh* the Chinese are targeting us first cause we virtually have no navy. no planes etc.

    And I totally agree with this article. If our country keeps going on the right track, I can definitely see PH developing a really good navy. If not one of the best navies in Asia.

  3. The Taiwanese, I suspect, are in COHORTS with the mainlanders. Ma Yinh Jeou's regime is known to be "too friendly" to the PRC, hence its low rating among its citizens

    - a fan

  4. Mr. Max,
    All of a sudden, like their aggressive fisherman, the Ma regime declares itself "innocent" of aggression and even blamed their media for "fanning" the escalation...wah, really, Taiwan? So freeze hiring, military drills that includes fighter jets and warships are not just "media frenzy" BEFORE the INVESTIGATION is done? The Ma regime needs to grow some LOGICAL BRAIN here

    - a fan

    1. Although the Taiwanese media was responsible for pressuring President Ma, it is still his prerogative as president to succumb or not to such pressure and decide according to what he believes is rightful for his country. It is irresponsible for the Taiwanese government to cry innocence in all the over reaction they made and put the blame to the Philippines, Taiwan media and their government's opposition forces.

  5. slowly but surely we can modernize our philppine armed forces with the support of our lawmakers and fellow Pilipino,,,I think the defence department is working in their military strategist on what really need military armament inn order to have a line of defence against foreign aggressor in our country...time by time we can bring back the best navy and airforce or best of the best armed forces in asia..we should be what zun tzu said....know yourself and know your enemy.........tiger..

  6. Hi Sir Max Montero!

    Greetings from TV5 News and Information!

    REAKSYON, a program of TV5 News and Information Department and hosted by veteran journalist and News5 head LUCHI CRUZ-VALDES airs up-to-date local and national issues involving the public.

    For our May 28 episode, we are working on a segment about “Philippine Warships.” In line with this, we would like to have an on-cam interview with you later this afternoon or tomorrow at around 9am.

    Your expertise regarding this matter will be of great value to our story. Should you have any queries and clarifications, please feel free to contact us. You will find our contact details below.

    Thank you!


    Errylle Monroy

    1. Hi Mr. Monroy. Sorry for not getting in touch as I am not based in the Philippines. I saw the show, I believe Mr. Custodio (his article was posted here in MaxDefense some weeks ago)took care of the details. Thank you for your interest in MaxDefense.

  7. this is a very strong opinion, but you really have to identified the situation much more than those described above. The action were not as over reacting as you would think. The Philippine government have assaulted our fishing boat in international waters more times than necessary (personally I don't think they had bad intention but was just trying to do their job.Though they probably got confused of the actual water adim. line on multiple occasions. That still didn't make the shooting right though)and taken over ROC marines garrison in south china seas. But of course we always let those go and historically our government have tried to solve this nicely.

    The two main issue that is different from other cases is the way the Filipino Government handled it.

    1. The smile
    Why? the smile in this situation meant carelessness of the issue
    and in many ways...not the best impression to give.
    (though if this is his habit, he might wanna consider changing it for future note..)

    2. The "They don't deserve our apology"
    Why? oh..dear..yea this is it
    Remember, like it or not Taiwan did help the Filipino Government with economy in some form (creating jobs for Filipino in TW and PHL)
    So with this in mind what do think the TW ppl will think when the PHL government reply to the shooting was "They don't deserve our apology?"...generally...not that good..right?

    In addition, bring up the unofficial sovereignty thing...please don't do that.

    So in conclusion if the PHL government handled the case with a sincere impression and not say the words that can obliviously provoke people. I don't think the TW government would have a reason to send the navy.

    In the end I can only hope this gets resolved as peacefully as possible. I have a Filipino friend and she is AWESOME. and I do understand nation pride and believe me when you are a international student you take that further. But in anther sense we need to learn how to respect one another and learn to speak much more fairly.
    If one gives a careless impression, the other will do the same.
    Can it be done by laugh..oh yes.

    1. As discussed in a previous blog here at MaxDefense, our opinion was that the actions made by Taiwan was made too early. Taiwan wanted a foreign government to apologize for something that is not yet proven. Investigation was still ongoing. But Taiwan did not give the Philippine government a chance. That itself is already an intention of pushing around an entire country to submission. Adding a provocative military exercise against an obviously weaker navy and a plan to use live ammo is puts the Philippines to shame. Which ROC garrison was taken over by the Philippines?

    2. Why would you say sorry to a thief? Should Japan say sorry to you for seizing Taiwanese poachers? Should Argentina say sorry to you for chasing away your poacher? Should Vietnam say sorry to you for "harrassing" Taiwanese poachers in Vietnam waters?

      And here is another big problem with Taiwanese mentality:
      Conclusion, investigation, fit the investigation and tweak it to fit the pre investigation conclusion.

      Taiwan is one bog KANGAROO court

    3. First of all, our president smiles because it's in our culture to smile. Many filipinos smile for no reason, even after natural disasters, but you won't understand that.

      We have to wait until the results of our investigation. Then we will act accordingly.

      BTW taiwanese/chinese fishermen are at batanes islands right now. stealing away. such thieves. what a joke.

    4. Mr. Taiwanese, your logic and basis for arguing is so subjective, personal and shallow. You make a big deal of how our President smiles it off, and your people and government react over a minor official's unofficial utterance. Your country (it's not even a normal country) wants an official apology even before the official investigations by both sides have been concluded. This incident would not have happened if your fellow citizens are not common thieves, pouching in Philippine waters. What international waters are you talking about, even Taiwanese satellite photos show that the Taiwanese pouchers were in Philippine waters.

      Your crisis-mode government imposed massive unfriendly economic sanctions against an erstwhile ally of yours. A loyal ally which sends its most brightest talents to help in Taiwan's economic miracle over the past 15 years. Okay they get paid too, but the benefits do go both ways.

      Your short-sighted and survival-mode Taiwanese President sacrificed the long-term strategic considerations of having the Philippines as an important ally. We, the Filipino people, our sailors and soldiers, our diplomats, the relatives of Taiwan-based workers, will remember for many years this incident and how you tried to bully us Filipinos and our government, just to feed a frenzied Taiwan media and shore up your plummeting popularity rating. Do not blame us if our State and its people do not act and help you (even when outside pressures request us to) when the inevitable time comes when the Chinese mainlanders finally invade, successfully occupy, take care of all the Kuomintang vestiges, and replace your Taiwanese arrogance with Chinese arrogance.

      Make no mistake, Mr. Taiwanese, the Philippines and its military will only get stronger and more capable of defending its territories in the next 3-10 years. Your island (I could not make myself call you a normal country) was once a friendly ally in our planning horizon, now all Filipinos, including the common tao and our brightest national defense planners will forever consider your island a threat and unfriendly regime to our national security.

      You, your president and his advisers, your media, your people over-reacted TOTALLY. What diplomats could have solved, your media-hungry state officials and war-mongering military advisers have forever destroyed.

      I am sorry that you lost the Philippines as an ally and friend, forever. And nothing that good-old Kelly can do about it to cure our deep wound. (ohh, maybe a pair of Arleigh Burkes and two pairs of Perrys, with all the FCS and missiles included, will change my mind and personal opinion).

      To anonymous and max montero, I like and agree with your statements. Derflinger

    5. However efforts the Taiwanese differentiate themselve from the Chinese.. They are all the same, bullyish, war mongering, back thinking.. Supremist People..



    Just wanna send you this excellent article

    A fan

  10. with all these going on in our territorial disputes and bullying by China, what I do not understand is the slow of progress of the AFP modernization while the news keep saying we have a 7% growth in the economy. even the upgrades of the military facilities in WPS like in Pagasa needed the upgrade and expand the runway is still not being started. are we this lazy and dumbed?

  11. well...there goes another one.

  12. First and foremost my condolence to the grieving Chinese fisherman family. A father , a son perhaps a brother who's life was lost because of a certain right which drives the will of man. This incident would forever scar the relationship of both countries. Now , with all things said and done , where do we go from here? With all the wisemen gathered all the facts laid to rest will the verdict bring life back ? Of course not , justice to a few but certainly hatred for both nations which may lead to condemnation . Is it worth it?
    The parties involve here maybe are both at fault at one point or the other. This may drag on and on ... Here is my suggestion since we were both friends and neighbor at one point why not we set aside personal agendas and ask for forgiveness to one another for failing to exercise restraint and humility . Have both countries try to find ways and means to avoid this travesty in the future. I still have the heart of a Filipino but most of all I crave for the love of The Lord Jesus Christ . I pray for those who are hurting and may they find peace with our Lord Christ .

  13. >>Instead of counting on the Philippine military as an ally against a growing threat of communist Chinese aggression, now they need to consider their formerly friendly neighbor as a threat, to the joy of the Chinese communist government.<<

    In any conflict between Mainland China and Taiwan, Philippine is far more likely to align itself with the PRC than being "an ally against a growing threat of communist Chinese aggression". At least as much as the US will allow anyway.

    I'm sorry, that's just the way it is- security-wise, Taiwan and Philippine has precisely nothing to offer to one another.