TAIPEI — Taiwan will maintain a robust defense to deal with a possible attack by China, a senior official said yesterday in the first Defense Ministry comment since the president’s contentious statement that the island would never seek US help to defend itself.
Vice Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang’s made the comment amid a firestorm of criticism from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party over President Ma Ying-jeou’s remarks, which were broadcast April 30 during an interview on CNN.
The remarks appeared to many in the opposition to represent a fundamental shift in more than 30 years of Taiwanese defense policy, which has been grounded on the assumption that the United States could come to Taiwan’s aid if China attacked.
The policy has come into sharper focus in recent years because a Chinese military buildup has increased the possibility that Taiwan might not be able to withstand a Chinese attack on its own.
But others believe that Ma really meant to underscore his administration’s success in diminishing tensions with China — a development, he believes, that reduced to near zero the possibility that the United States might be caught up in a cross-strait conflict.