Sat, Mar 04, 2006 - Page 1 News List

China staging high-tech joint military exercises

AFP , BEIJING

China is this week staging military exercises, Chinese state press said yesterday, coinciding with a spike in tensions with Taiwan and the start of the nation's annual parliamentary session.

The joint air force, army and navy exercises began on Wednesday and are aimed at simulating modern battle conditions using advanced information technology, the China Daily reported, without saying when they would end.

The People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper said the exercises were being carried out in the Shenyang, Guangzhou, Beijing and Chengdu military command regions, simulating the deployment of troops hundreds of kilometers away.

Photos posted on official government Web sites showed navy transport ships carrying tanks and armored personnel carriers, with the vehicles disembarking from the ships onto beaches.

The exercises began just after President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) move to cease the function of the National Unification Council (NUC) and guidelines on Tuesday, a move that Beijing said would endanger peace in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia Pacific region.

Beijing has insisted that formal Taiwan independence would mean war and has strongly warned Chen from moving in that direction.

The state press did not link the exercises to the heightened cross-strait tensions but Joseph Cheng (鄭宇碩), a noted China watcher at the City University of Hong Kong, said they were meant to be a low-key signal to Taiwan.

"Certainly this is an attempt to put pressure on Chen," Cheng said.

"Military exercises are probably seen as an appropriate warning at this stage," he added.

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