Fri, Jun 25, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Terrorism? PRC need only look in the mirror

By Mac William Bishop

The US, in its "global war on terror," has apparently overlooked one of the hubs of international terrorism: Taiwan.

At least, so says China's state media.

Last week, various Chinese Communist Party mouthpieces published editorials attacking the "independence terrorists" in Taiwan.

These pieces were written in response to a single line in the US Department of Defense's Fiscal Year 2004 Report to Congress on the People's Republic of China's Military Power.

In the Pentagon's analysis of Taiwan's military capabilities, it noted that, "Since Taipei cannot match Beijing's ability to field offensive systems, proponents of strikes against the mainland apparently hope that merely presenting credible threats to China's urban population or high-value targets, such as the Three Gorges Dam, will deter Chinese military coercion."

The Pentagon was clearly not suggesting that Taiwan attack the Three Gorges Dam. It was simply reporting that some people, who might accurately be described as "China hawks," were advocating such actions to prevent an invasion of Taiwan.

It is absurd to claim that the Pentagon was advocating a first strike against China -- but absurdity did not prevent dozens of commentators from saying that it had.

The ensuing debate on the feasibility of a Taiwan attack on the Three Gorges Dam quickly entered the realm of nonsense. On June 16, People's Liberation Army (PLA) Lieutenant General Liu Yuan (劉源) wrote in the China Youth Daily that the PLA would be on the lookout for "Taiwan independence terrorists."

He then promised to "blot out the sky and cover up the earth" if Taiwan ever attacked the dam. In any case, he noted, the dam "cannot be destroyed."

Next, the China Daily joined the chorus of raucous voices on June 18. The paper ran an opinion piece by "a Beijing-based military expert" entitled "Terrorism part of Taiwan separatist agenda."

In this piece, the author said the Pentagon's report indicated that "pro-independence forces in Taiwan are turning to terrorist measures to help pursue their political goals."

If these polemics weren't so disturbing, they'd be laughable.

After all, no mainstream political party or figure in Taiwan has advocated terror tactics against China.

But several PLA officers and Chinese military experts have advocated terror tactics -- as part of Beijing's strategy to forcefully unify with Taiwan.

For example, in the book Unrestricted Warfare, two PLA senior colonels, Qiao Liang (喬良) and Wang Xiangsui (王湘穗), championed the adoption and employment of various types of asymmetric and non-traditional warfare -- including terror attacks and the use of nuclear weapons -- to compensate for the intrinsic weaknesses of the PLA.

Notably, Qiao claimed in an interview that "the first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, nothing forbidden."

Since Beijing finds the threat of terror and first-strike tactics so distasteful, it should ban its own use of such tactics. It could start by dismantling the short- and medium-range ballistic missiles it has aimed at Taiwan.

After all, these weapons have been deployed with the sole purpose of being used in a saturation attack, which would result in thousands of civilian casualties.

There are any number of definitions of terrorism, but China shouldn't be misled into thinking that the international community -- whatever that may be -- is likely to accept China's claim that it is being targeted by "Taiwan independence terrorists" at face value.

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