Sun, Jul 21, 2002 - Page 8 News List

National defense is important to everyone

By Lee Wen-chung 李文忠

The Pentagon's annual report to the US Congress on China's military power this year has stimulated much discussion in Taiwan. I believe two major problems are important to address -- the significance behind the release of the report and whether or not after reading the report Taiwan is awake to the perilous state of its security.

Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Department of Defense assessed the security problems in the Tai-wan Strait, including China's military power and the cross-strait security situation. Its report assumes that Taiwan lacks foreign aid and has to counter China's invasion on its own; that Taiwan's weaponry will soon be offset by the quality and quantity of the People's Liberation Army; that China's cruise missiles will pose an even greater threat to Taiwan and that these arms will overwhelm the anti-missile systems Taiwan has by 2005.

This year's report differs from its predecessors in the doubts it casts on China's sincerity in seeking to peacefully resolve the Taiwan issue and the emphasis it puts on the imbalance in the forces on either side of the Strait. What's worth noting is that although only factual statements and analyses are given in the report, they might reveal the latest offensive taken by the pro-Taiwan "blue team" in Washington.

For instance, the report reiter-ates the growing threat posed by China's ballistic missiles and the defensive incompetence of Tai-wan's missiles. The discussion about China's menacing anti-ship missiles suggests that Taiwan's naval forces desperately require the ability -- using systems such as AEGIS-equipped destroyers -- to counter saturation-bombing attacks. It is widely known that the Pentagon has been supportive of Taiwan and most of the blue team members work in the department.

On Taiwan's part, the report states that China will adopt strong strategies to force Taiwan to quickly surrender. Some law-makers, including myself and those on the National Defense Committee, have long pointed out that Beijing's attempts to narrow Taiwan's space for decision making by means of a "brink of war" policy. But the people of Taiwan have failed to notice this point.

A laissez-faire policy simply encourages invaders to run the risk of undertaking military operations. The reason is very simple -- when invaders sense that the political atmosphere, or the strategic environment, is inclined toward non-resistance, they choose to launch military attacks because the risks or war are smaller and they can profit from a war.

Speeches by US President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have shared identical keynotes with the Pentagon report. I hope that people of Taiwan will show some concern over military security issues for more than just a few minutes. Simply following the US' steps can't establish the defense most suitable for Taiwan. Only long-term attention to national defense can help build a viable defense. Only when Taiwan becomes another Israel will the support of its potential allies be reciprocal and reliable.

Lee Wen-chung is a legislator from the DPP.

Translated by Jackie Lin

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