Wed, Oct 06, 2010 - Page 1 News List

China threat ‘has never diminished’

WARY OF CHINAThe deputy minister of national defense said that China continues to try to sow and manipulate divisions between the Taiwanese public and government

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) warned the US at a defense conference earlier this week that the Chinese threat against Taiwan “has never diminished.”

In a speech with far more hawkish undertones than are normally heard from members of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, Yang said China was continuing its preparations for “contingency operations” to respond to any change in relations across the Taiwan Strait.

Addressing the closed-door US-Taiwan Defense Industry -Conference in Cambridge, Maryland, Yang said that to suppress independence and promote unification, Beijing was combining “carrots and sticks.”

Beijing was sweetening the carrots and hardening the sticks, he said.

“China has attempted to instigate differences between the Taiwanese people and the government and even tried to dominate Taiwan’s public opinion and manipulate it in cross-strait relations,” Yang said.

Beijing’s military preparations against Taiwan were at least partly based on the principle that there would be no compromise on Taiwanese independence.

The very same month that -Taiwan and China signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), Yang said, at a time when relations between the two countries were at a high point, Chinese Minister of National Defense Liang Guanglie (梁光烈) told a delegation from the Japanese Self--Defense Forces that Taiwan was “the focus” of China’s military buildup.

Yang said there was a sharp contrast between the ECFA and Liang’s comments about the military buildup and that he could only conclude that Taiwan continued to face the same or an “increasing intensity” of threat.

Yang said a historic examination of China’s military strategy showed that the emphasis had always been less on defense and more on an active approach.

He said this could mean that China would be capable of launching a pre-emptive strike.

In this context, Yang urged the US to sell Taiwan the 66 advanced F-16C/D fighter aircraft and diesel-electric submarines it has requested.

A copy of Yang’s remarks was made available to the media.

At a press conference later, Yang said China had not been testing Taiwan’s defenses by sending military units close to its waters, but that Taipei could not count on China’s intentions because its military capability was steadily increasing and Beijing had not promised to refrain from using force.

He said the US was ready to upgrade Taiwan’s existing fleet of older F-16A/B aircraft, that there had been a warm response to a request to buy more recent models of the plane and that the request was being given serious consideration.

Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s department of international affairs, later said she was happy to see a Ma official willing to face up to the challenge.

More than 140 government officials, academics, experts and representatives from defense companies attended the three-day annual conference, which concluded yesterday.

US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond--Chambers said the closed sessions at the conference were being used to examine the future of cross-strait threats and Taiwan’s security needs.

He said the Taiwanese military’s new focus on disaster rescue, recovery and relief and asymmetric options for the armed forces would also be addressed.

“The Defense Industry Conference is the most important private event reviewing US-Taiwan defense and security issues each year,” he said.

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