By: Lt.Gen.(ret) Jun Nagashima (TSC 15-1)
As the world is united and fighting against this coronavirus, I would like to provide my insights on East Asia from a long-term security perspective. Here, I would like to elaborate on three points.
One is that some of the weaknesses of biological weapons have been resolved, assuming that the virus will be more utilized as a weapon in the future. I think this incident might increase the accessibility, ease of use, and transportability of biological weapons, which raises our anxiety in the case where these could be used by extreme terrorists.
The second is the impact on the peace and stability in East Asia and primarily the political relationship between Taiwan and China. After Xi Jinping had delivered his speech aimed at Taiwan unification in January 2019, Taiwanese support rate for President Tsai Ing-wen, who aims for the independence of Taiwan, has been increased dramatically. Having seen the protest demonstrations in Hong Kong starting June 2019, her support rate rose to nearly 50%. In Taiwan, which is excluded from the WHO at this time and while criticism against China for the slow response to coronavirus became apparent, the Taiwanese government was highly evaluated for effective epidemic control measures, and the support rating for her rose to 68.5%. As Xi Jinping aims for Taiwan unification by the year 2049, which would be the 100th anniversary of its founding, I’m anxious about the possibility of heightened military tensions between Taiwan and China in the near future.
Third, China has taken full advantage of advanced technology equipment as a means of preventing the spread of this virus. These include big data, drones, face authentication system, surveillance network systems, robotics, and people’s credit granting system, which could be used to block infected areas and restrict the movement of citizens, track infected people and contact persons. China has adopted a civil-military fusion policy that blurs the line between civilian technology and military technology, so it is easily expected that the PLA will use these advanced technologies actively and equip its weapons with these earlier than planned. That’s my insight on this coronavirus incident from the viewpoint of security.
Lt.Gen.(ret) Jun Nagashima *DKI APCSS course TSC 15-1
Senior Analyst, Sumitomo Corp. Global Research
Research Adviser, Nakasone Peace Institute
Aerospace Adviser, Sumitomo Corporation