Fri, Aug 26, 2011 - Page 1 News List

China military has Taiwan in its sights

PENTAGON REPORT:Taiwan is the focus of China’s military, which is on track to become fully modernized by 2020 — much earlier than the US’ best estimate

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

“In the absence of a peaceful cross-Strait resolution or long-term non-aggression pact, the Taiwan mission will likely continue to dominate PLA modernization and operational planning,” it says.

Although the Chinese military probably lacks the necessary military power to successfully conduct a full-scale amphibious invasion of Taiwan, the report says, it is working to close the gaps in its capabilities.

“Furthermore, Taiwan’s relatively modest defense spending has failed to keep pace with ambitious military developments on the mainland,” it says.

The report says Beijing seeks to deter Taiwanese moves toward independence and seeks to achieve unification with a carrot and stick approach.

“The PRC [People’s Republic of China] strives to integrate the two economies while advancing cultural and historic ties. Politically, China has sought to expand ties with the [Chinese Nationalist Party] KMT Party on Taiwan while attempting to isolate political entities with more overtly pro-independence leanings,” it says.

“The PRC employs economic enticement, propaganda, and political engagement in pursuit of these objectives,” it says.

According to the report, the military component of China’s strategy is intended to create an impression on Taiwan that accommodation with Beijing is ultimately in Taiwan’s best interest.

“Beijing appears prepared to defer the use of force as long as it believes long-term reunification [sic] remains possible and the costs of conflict outweigh the benefits,” it says.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Michael Schiffer told a Pentagon press briefing on the report that the pace and scope of China’s sustained military investments had allowed Beijing to pursue capabilities that “we believe are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances, increase the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation, and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties.”

He said the report pointed to cross-strait trends that created a very challenging military and security environment.

The US was committed to working with Taiwan, to meet its -commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and to ensure that Taipei had the self-defense capabilities that it needed, Schiffer said.

Asked directly about the possible sale of F-16C/Ds, Schiffer said: “There have been no decisions that have been made on arms sales to Taiwan.”

“This is an issue that we continue to work with on a daily basis and consistent with our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States will provide to Taiwan the self-defense capabilities that it requires,” he said.

“It’s a challenging security environment across a number of different dimensions,” he said when pressed on the possible sale.

There was no “silver bullet that will all of a sudden change everything,” he said.

In Taipei, the Ministry of National Defense again urged the US government to speed up the sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan.

Ministry spokesman David Lo (羅紹和) said the report again highlighted the cross-strait military imbalance.

Based on this reasoning, Ma has repeatedly called on the US to supply defensive arms to Taiwan in accordance with the TRA, Lo said.

He said the ministry has continued in its efforts to persuade Washington to provide F-16C/D aircraft, F-16A/B upgrades and diesel-electric submarines.

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