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Wed, Jan 12, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Military dismisses rumors of Chinese invasion of Taiwan

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Officials at the Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday denied media reports that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has intensified its combat readiness in regions facing Taiwan, saying the PLA is not expected to take provocative action against Taiwan in the lead-up to the March presidential election.

"As long as no untoward situation arises before the presidential election, the PLA is not likely to launch any drills against Taiwan because it has other things to take care of during that time," said MND spokesman Major General Kung Fan-ding (孔繁定).

"Between January and March of each year, the PLA's main task is to train newly-recruited soldiers. It also has to bolster its forces just before the Chinese New Year in early February. This is something that the military does every year at this time," Kung said.

"China's main concern during this period is to maintain the stability of the country," he said.

Kung made the remarks as he refuted media reports that the PLA has raised its level of alertness in the Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions and is set to take some kind of action against Taiwan before the presidential election.

Kung assured the public that the military was keeping a close watch on the movements of the PLA, but that nothing out of the ordinary was underway. He also called on the public not to put any stock in rumors of China making military moves against Taiwan.

Chang Li-teh (張立德), an editor of the Defense Technology Monthly magazine, said although the PLA is now focusing on training new recruits, that does not mean it does not have the ability to launch a large-scale exercise against Taiwan.

"The new recruits amount to only one-third of the total of the PLA. The rest of the troops should have been sufficiently trained for war games," Chang said.

"We have to be aware that if the Nanjing and Guangzhou military regions are short of troops to engage in provocative war games that could involve Taiwan, they could request reinforcements from the Jinan military region which always has a large number of troops standing by," he said.

An army official, who declined to be identified, said the most likely time for the PLA to begin war games or an invasion of Taiwan would be between July and August, as troops are at their peak of combat readiness after having finished their annual training.

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