Oct 10, 2022

Life in Taiwan with China flexing its military might Transcript

Life in Taiwan with China flexing its military might Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsChinaLife in Taiwan with China flexing its military might Transcript

Lesley Stahl reports from Taiwan, where many seem unmoved by the shows of military force China has recently carried out. Read the transcript here.

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Lesley Stahl: (00:01)
Ever since Mao Zedong won China’s civil war in 1949 and the losing anti Communis side fled to a small nearby island, Beijing has insisted that that island, Taiwan is an integral part of the mainland. The US has walked a tight rope respecting that one China policy, but maintaining a special relationship with Taiwan, today, a progressive, thriving democracy. In September, President Biden vowed on this broadcast that the US will protect Taiwan. This past week, the Taiwanese government said China aims to normalize its military pressure on the island. That escalated after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited in August with its largest military drill ever.

Announcer: (00:55)
The story will continue in a moment.

Lesley Stahl: (01:02)
In a display of frightening military might, China subjected Taiwan to three days of continuous sorties, with over a hundred war planes, a barrage of ballistic missiles and warships that encircled the island, delivering a loud and clear message that China could choke Taiwan anytime it wanted to. You think they’re going to invade?

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (01:29)
Yes. Is not matter of if they will invade, it’s a matter of when they were invade.

Lesley Stahl: (01:36)
Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, who used to head Taiwan’s armed forces, has been ringing alarm bells for years because as China’s military has been growing, Taiwan’s is shrinking. The number of soldiers in uniform has been cut in half over the years. The length of mandatory service has been reduced to just four months. And Admiral Lee complains that the government has been buying the wrong weapons for years. Tanks and jets from the United States instead of smaller portable missiles. What I gather you think the military needs are these stingers and javelins and drones exactly what they need in Ukraine?

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (02:21)
Yeah, it’s the truth.

Lesley Stahl: (02:23)
And you’re not getting them now-

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (02:24)

Lesley Stahl: (02:25)
…because they’re giving them to Ukraine.

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (02:28)
We already ordered it. In my view, not enough. But however, we began to order that. But we have not yet received any because other country, also have a kind of similar requirements, we are not on the top list. But we need now.

Lesley Stahl: (02:44)

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (02:44)
We need now.

Lesley Stahl: (02:45)
Did the Taiwanese military waste all those years buying those big weapons?

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (02:52)
I believe so. But still, we don’t have time to waste anymore.

Lesley Stahl: (02:59)
Taiwan doesn’t get US military aid, it buys the weapons, but the manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand. The Taiwanese have already purchased about $14 billion worth of weapons that they have yet to receive. We were surprised that few here seem to share the admiral’s sense of urgency. Here in Taiwan, you’d never know that the dragon to the north recently sent warships to surround the island. People told us over and over, “No big deal. China’s been doing versions of that for 70 years.” Well, much of the world thought and invasion was imminent. Polls show that a majority of Taiwanese think that’s unlikely anytime soon, if ever. And that’s reflected in what we saw in the capital Taipei, where life goes on uninterrupted. Morning traffic flows normally, shoppers do what they always do during the day and at night. We saw old people painting outdoors and teenagers practicing hip hop routines, despite the threat from the north.

Wang Ting-yu: (04:13)
This kind of threat is our daily life.

Lesley Stahl: (04:15)
Wang Ting-yu, a parliamentarian from Southern Taiwan says a kind of war has already started

Wang Ting-yu: (04:23)
China, they try to annex Taiwan for past 50 years. They try all different kind of way. Maybe I can give you very concrete figures, There are 20 million cyber attacked per day.

Lesley Stahl: (04:39)
What? Per day?

Wang Ting-yu: (04:40)
Yes. Every day.

Lesley Stahl: (04:41)
Wang, who sits on Parliament’s Foreign affairs and National Defense Committee, took us to a high security lab where engineers track those attacks.

Speaker 5: (04:51)
This is Taiwan here.

Lesley Stahl: (04:53)
Ah, okay.

Speaker 5: (04:54)
A small island, But we are proud of it.

Lesley Stahl: (04:56)
The map shows the attacks from China in real time as they hit Taiwan. And it’s so close to China.

Speaker 5: (05:04)
Yeah. Unfortunately.

Lesley Stahl: (05:06)
So is China hoping to defeat Taiwan without firing a single shot?

Wang Ting-yu: (05:12)
They dream like that.

Lesley Stahl: (05:13)
They dream.

Wang Ting-yu: (05:14)
They desperate dream like that.

Lesley Stahl: (05:16)
He says on top of cyber warfare, they’re trying to sabotage Taiwan’s thriving economy and intimidate politically powerful groups like the farmers and fishermen in Wang’s Home District of Tainan, who’ve been hit especially hard with a series of export bands. When Speaker Pelosi was here,-

Wang Ting-yu: (05:38)

Lesley Stahl: (05:38)
China, we’re told, banned 1000 products, Taiwan used products, a lot from your region down here.

Wang Ting-yu: (05:46)
Yes. To hurt, to damage some individual business.

Lesley Stahl: (05:51)
Like the fish industry. Is there any grouper here? 90% of grouper exports went to China last year. But suddenly in June, Beijing banned Taiwan’s grouper, devastating the fishermen, boxes and boxes of fish piled up. China also went after pineapples, crushing farmers like this young couple.

Male farmer. : (06:17)
It devastated us. Our pineapples got stuck in Taiwan and we lost 60,000 US dollars.

Lesley Stahl: (06:23)
And I understand the ban was sudden like that. No warning.

Female farmer: (06:27)
No warning.

Lesley Stahl: (06:28)
The government fought back with a freedom pineapple campaign to entice everyone to buy and eat a lot of pineapples. Oh my God, it’s so sweet.

Wang Ting-yu: (06:40)
Our house wives, they have voice say, “let’s eat pineapple on our dining tables.”

Lesley Stahl: (06:45)
Everybody’s eating pineapples?

Wang Ting-yu: (06:51)
The military, they have lunch, they have dinner, provide pineapples.

Lesley Stahl: (06:52)
We found a fairly prosperous country, a leading exporter of bicycles and other sports gear. This tiny island is a tech giant in agriculture innovation and above all, in semiconductors. Taiwan is practically the world’s only source of the thinnest microchips manufactured almost exclusively by one company, TSMMC. China relies on these, as does the rest of the world, for things like iPhones, advanced computers and car components. 91 year old Morris Chang TSMC’S founder explains why a lot of people here think the chips protect them from Xi Jinping’s attacking. I’ve heard this expression, “Silicon shield” or “Chip shield” talking about your company.

Morris Chang: (07:48)
Well, it means that perhaps, because our company provides a lot of chips to the world, maybe somebody will refrain from attacking it. If that person’s priority is for economic wellbeing, I think they will refrain from attacking.

Lesley Stahl: (08:11)
What if the priority is to come here and nationalize your company within one China?

Morris Chang: (08:19)
If there’s a war, I mean, it will be destroyed, everything will be destroyed.

Wang Ting-yu: (08:24)
China say some of their Chinese Communist say, “Let’s invade Taiwan and occupy TSMC. Make become party owned company.

Morris Chang: (08:35)

Wang Ting-yu: (08:35)
Then we will be super power. United States and Japan and Europe, we don’t supply them chip, they will follow Chinese orders. But that’s naive.

Lesley Stahl: (08:45)
Why is that naive?

Wang Ting-yu: (08:47)
Not only a chip company, even a sausage company. You need a recipe, you need human capitals. You need to know how to manufacture that kind of products.

Lesley Stahl: (09:01)
If there is reunification, what would happen to you?

Wang Ting-yu: (09:05)

Morris Chang: (09:06)

Wang Ting-yu: (09:07)
Yeah. If they annex Taiwan, people like me, a lot will be perished.

Lesley Stahl: (09:15)
Beijing has sanctioned Wang Ting-yu personally for being outspokenly pro Taiwan’s independence. He passionately defends the country’s progressive democracy. We saw campaign billboards everywhere validating the island’s commitment to clean elections and freedom of speech. Beijing has promised that if there were reunification, Taiwan could maintain many of its freedoms. And yet, in 2019, China broke a similar promise to Hong Kong. Protests led to beatings, arrests and stripping of democratic rights. It hit home in Taiwan, and led to President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the aggressively anti reunification party winning reelection in a landslide.

President Tsai Ing-wen: (10:10)
We are firmly resolved to defend our freedom, democracy, and way of life.

Lesley Stahl: (10:16)
Given what happened in Hong Kong and the recent military escalation, we were curious why the people are so stoic, asked if they’re in denial or apathetic? A Taiwanese writer said, “It’s kind of like global warming. You know it’s there and it’s going to get worse. But mostly people go about their lives. What can one individual really do?” But then the Taiwanese watch the Ukrainians stand up to the Russians. It’s so inspired Jack Yao, a young Taipei coffee vendor that he went there to help the fight.

Lesley Stahl: (10:55)
Did you go because you’re Taiwanese?

Jack Yao: (10:57)
Yeah, Because-

Lesley Stahl: (10:57)
What’s the connection?

Jack Yao: (10:59)
It’s just like the Ukraine situation, and our situation, is very like. They also have a big neighbors and they was the communist and we have to face the China communist and they want to take us. They always want to take us.

Lesley Stahl: (11:15)
Was it in your mind that if you go to fight for Ukraine, other people will come here and fight for Taiwan.

Jack Yao: (11:24)

Lesley Stahl: (11:25)
What the Ukrainians have done is raising a question here in Taiwan. “If that small democracy can stand up to its menacing neighbor, why can’t we?” You see civil defense classes sprouting up, like this one on how to identify Chinese fake news during an attack. And this night class in the park on how to operate two-way radios in Morse code in case the internet is knocked out.

Enock Woo: (11:54)
We want our students to be able to apply a tourniquet within 30 seconds.

Lesley Stahl: (11:59)
Enoch Woo, a former special forces soldier is running training workshops in how to treat bullet and shrapnel wounds and conduct search and rescue. And Admiral Lee wants to take it a step further, calling on the government to arm Taiwan citizens and create a volunteer force like Ukraine’s.

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (12:20)
If Ukraine can do that, why not Taiwan? I’m trying to convince our people, that is important because this is symbol of the deterrence determination.

Lesley Stahl: (12:33)
So you’re proposing what I guess, I would call the Ukraine model?

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming: (12:38)
Similar. Ukraine people really inspire our people, but do all people change fast enough? I don’t think so.

Lesley Stahl: (12:49)
Do you think that Taiwanese have that same kind of determination?

Wang Ting-yu: (12:55)
I strongly believe this. Because we cherish how we live. We love peace, we don’t like war. But we won’t cede our democracy, our life for peace. That’s surrender.

Lesley Stahl: (13:10)
Is there a chance you’ll surrender?

Wang Ting-yu: (13:12)
No, not a chance. Never.

Announcer: (13:19)
Taiwan’s digital threat from China.

Lesley Stahl: (13:21)
Is Taiwan already at cyber war with China?

Speaker 13: (13:26)
Essentially, yeah.

Announcer: (13:27)
At 60minutesovertime.com. Sponsored by Pfizer.

Lesley Stahl: (13:30)
Saying how strong the PLA is.

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