Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Dangers to security in direct links with China

By Huang Yao-ming 黃耀明

Following the release of a Chinese policy paper on direct cross-strait links, China's civil aviation administration has launched a push for direct links, spearheaded by its Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

The push echoes the campaign platform of the Lien-Soong clique, which has promised direct transportation links within a year or two if elected.

As for the businesspeople of Taiwan, whose primary concerns are economics and transportation, a sugar-coated direct-links offensive from China that does not involve "one China" can better win their sympathy and votes than can the "one-way" and "indirect" transportation links of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) administration.

From the perspective of protecting Taiwan, the A-bian (阿扁)administration's direct links policy takes into account vital economic factors -- expediting cargo transportation between Taiwan and China -- and Taiwanese businesspeople's need to save time and cut costs. But above all, it takes military risks into account.

We cannot ignore national security simply to curry favor with Taiwanese businesses.

When it comes to defining flight routes, China favors the term "cross-strait routes."

Negotiations are conducted in the private sector, between professional associations or companies; China views the Taiwanese government as it views Hong Kong and Macau -- as special administrative regions -- ignoring Taiwan's sovereignty. Taiwan cannot accept this.

China has made it clear that the negotiations will not touch "one China." In fact, giving up on government-to-government talks will reinforce the "one China principle" -- the claim that Taiwan is a part of China.

If direct links are agreed to through negotiations under the ground rules, Taiwan will have given up its sovereignty and national defense. Taiwan's military will not be able to intervene in cross-strait traffic. It will be no different from opening up air and sea territories to the enemy.

At 11pm on Aug. 20, 1968, a Soviet civilian aircraft complained of a malfunction while flying over Prague and made a forced landing at Ruzyme airport, 15km away from the city center. After the landing, the aircraft did not stop on the runway or evacuate its passengers. Instead, it taxied at high speed and crashed into the apron of the terminal building. Armed members of the Soviet 103rd Guards Desant Division poured out of the plane. Within a few minutes they had captured the flight control tower. The airport guards became prisoners before they could respond.

Air control personnel from the rapid attack force directed Soviet transport planes, which had been circling in the sky, to land at the rate of a plane per minute.

Once Taipei City's Sungshan Airport is used for cross-strait flights, the scenario described above could happen in Taiwan.

Military transport planes using civilian flights as cover in the first wave of attack can evade radar and prevent early responses from anti-aircraft fire.

In addition, ground control personnel cannot be sure what passenger planes are carrying. Air force fighters and anti-aircraft missile units dare not make assumptions or shoot down the planes. Troops guarding the airport cannot use their weapons.

If direct flights are to come about, Taiwan must insist on "curved-line direct links" that fly through air space whose traffic is controlled by a third country.

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