On Dec. 27, China's State Council issued a white paper entitled China's National Defense in 2004. Last March, the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian (
Sensing that Taiwan is striding forward to become a sovereign and normal country, Beijing has resorted to publishing this white paper in a last-ditch effort to explicitly and threateningly point out that "Taiwan's authorities under Chen Shui-bian have deliberately challenged the status quo of both sides belonging to the same one China and obviously escalated the Taiwan independence activities designed to split China. The separatist activities of Taiwan's independence forces have increasingly become the biggest immediate threat to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as peace and stability on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole."
The document also criticizes the attempt to enact a new constitution as "effecting Taiwan's independence through the formation of a so-called constitutional reform," and strongly indicates that "it was the sacred responsibility of the Chinese army to deter Taiwan's independence forces from splitting the country."
The white paper went on to repeat the threat that "should the Taiwan authorities go so far as to make a reckless attempt that
constitutes a major incident of `Taiwan independence,' the Chinese people and armed forces will resolutely and thoroughly crush it at any cost."
Other than threatening the use of military coercion against "Taiwan independence forces," the white paper also offers Taiwan a chance to surrender itself, saying that "hostilities could be ended or a confidence-building mechanism in the military field could be established if Taiwan accepted the `one China' principle and stopped its separatist activities."
Emphasizing China's intention to strengthen its military, the paper also mentions that "based on economic development and financial revenues, China will continue to `moderately' increase its defense expenditure." China's national defense budget expenditure has increased at a double-digit rate since 1998. The document reveals that defense expenditure increased to 211.701 billion yuan last year (US$25.6 billion) from 190.787 billion yuan (US$23.1 billion) in 2003, an increase of 12 percent, which trails only the US and Russia.
Since China is in the habit of hiding its defense expenditure in the budgets of non-defense departments, China's actual defense spending is believed to be at least three times greater than that of the figure released publicly. With such a huge amount of money invested in its military buildup, the imbalance of military power looms ahead across the Taiwan Strait, seriously threatening the security of Taiwan.
The white paper also pointed out that China has undergone two rounds of large-scale military cutbacks, laying off up to 1.5 million personnel and plans to cut a further 200,000 by the end of the year.
To cope with the Taiwan issue, the paper also mentions that the People's Liberation Army (PLA), in addition to continuing to modernize its armed forces, will also strengthen its control of the sea, broaden the reach of military operations in coastal waters, and enhance its defense in depth and amphibious capability. To have command of the air, the strategy will be changed from territorial air defense to having both a offensive and defensive capabilities. The Second Artillery Corps, China's strategic missile forces, will improve their rapid response and precision targeting capabilities.