Sun, Jul 24, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Don't buy into `peaceful rising' talk

By the Liberty Times editorial

At a meeting in Hong Kong on July 14, China's Major General Zhu Chenghu (朱成虎), a dean at China's National Defense University (中國國防大學), told reporters that Beijing might respond with a nuclear strike on the US if Washington interfered in a cross-strait war.

Even though Beijing said the general's views were his own and not official policy, it is hard to know what China's real position is. But no matter what, his threat was enough to remind the world about the possibility of Beijing's determination to resolve the "Taiwan question" by any means necessary, including the use of nuclear arms. People should therefore prepare for the worst, and should not be fooled by China's so-called "peaceful rising."

In the past, China said that it would not use nuclear weapons unless it is attacked by such weapons. Today, as China's strength grows, its ambition to be a military superpower also grows.

Zhu's words reveal that even if the US does not use its nuclear arsenal first, China may still choose to use nuclear weapons if it is unable to compete with the US in a conventional war. By the same logic, if China invades Taiwan, it also won't rule out the possibility of using nuclear arms on this country. During the cross-strait crisis in 1995, high-level Chinese military officials threatened to launch nuclear strikes if war did break out.

If one accepts the idea that China is seeking to become a military hegemony, the world can't afford to take Zhu's statement lightly. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Zhu's remarks were "unfortunate" and "irresponsible." French media outlets also pointed out that such hostile words make China's "peaceful rise" difficult to believe.

However, Taiwan has once again failed to be on alert in the face of Chinese military threats. Those pan-blue camp politicians who visited China to "seek peace," as well as the pro-China media here have all turned a blind eye to these threats.

But their willingness to dismiss the danger posed by China has been consistent. In recent years, China's Taiwan-minded military build-up has rapidly increased. It now has more than 700 ballistic missiles pointed at Taiwan. But the pan-blue camp is still determined to boycott the government's arms procurement plan.

Despite the blue camp's subservience to China, Beijing has never renounced the use of force to resolve the cross-strait impasse.

In March, Beijing even passed the "Anti-Secession" Law, vowing to employ "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures" if Taiwan declared independence.

Under such circumstances, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) accepted an invitation to visit China, shamelessly touting the "one China" policy and the so-called "1992 consensus" while meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). Lien and Soong's move to "unify China to restrain Taiwan" has further boosted Beijing's arrogance and probably went a long way in inspiring Zhu's nuclear threats.

During the fourth Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore in early June, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pointed out that China's military expansion has endangered the subtle security balance in Asia. He criticized China for concealing its actual military spending, and questioned its increase of missiles targeting Taiwan while claiming to desire a peaceful solution to the issue.

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