Mon, May 08, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Feng says Taiwan committed to peace

‘NOT NORTH KOREA’:Taiwan would not seek nuclear weapons in a bid to deter China or use them as a bargaining chip, Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan said

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan speaks at a forum on national security strategy at Tamkang University in New Taipei City yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei

The nation will remain committed to cross-strait peace despite increasing military threats from China, which is expected to project its military power beyond the first island chain on a regular basis, Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said yesterday.

As China is building new aircraft carriers, the East China and Yellow seas will no longer be enough for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct training on open seas, and long-distance military operations beyond the first island chain, and even near the second island chain, would become common, Feng told a forum on national security strategy hosted by Tamkang University in New Taipei City.

China’s military power has grown exponentially, with its aircraft carrier group and bomber fleets capable of conducting training around and beyond Taiwan’s airspace, he said.

“Each of [the PLA’s] distant sea training exercises and operations circling Taiwan has mounted pressure on us, and we have been forced to raise the level of combat readiness,” Feng said.

He called on the public to be prepared for a Chinese military presence around Taiwan’s airspace, as the PLA has broken through the first island chain during exercises and will continue to do so on a regular basis.

The decades-long peace across the Taiwan Strait has been maintained with extreme caution on Taiwan’s part, he said.

The nation’s armed forces are under strict orders not to launch any pre-emptive attack under any circumstance, even if that means soldiers on the front line have to be sacrificed, Feng said.

“We are committed to the political promise of maintaining the ‘status quo’ across the Taiwan Strait. We do not provoke China and do everything we can to prevent conflict,” Feng said.

Taiwan would not develop nuclear weapons to deter China, he said.

“We are not North Korea. It is not that we do not have the ability [to develop nuclear weapons], but we will never follow in the footsteps of North Korea and create a nuclear crisis as a bargaining chip,” Feng said.

Maintaining peace across the Strait has been the government’s top priority, the success of which is contingent on a flexible use of military, economic, political and diplomatic means, and a deepened democracy, he added.

The nation has to improve its asymmetric and electronic warfare capabilities with locally developed weapons, Feng said, adding that the aerospace, shipbuilding and information sectors will be the core of the government’s focus when building up the defense industry.

Taiwan has to establish good rapport with first island chain nations to survive in the increasingly precarious international environment, he said.

The nation has contributed to the peaceful development of the first island chain and Southeast Asia, but the contribution has gone unrecognized, Feng added.

He urged Beijing to drop its belligerent attitude and help attain regional peace and development, but added that China would not stop its saber-rattling against Taiwan until a new framework is established across the Strait.

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