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Fri, Sep 14, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Lu warns that the China threat is being forgotten

TAIWAN'S VULNERABILITY The vice president warned against complacency about possible attacks and urged a strengthening of civilian-based defense measures

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

PHOTO: SHING TING-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

In the wake of terrorist attacks against the US, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday reminded the public that Taiwan has a nemesis of its own, whose threats are ignored or downplayed by too many too often.

"China has already posed a threat to Taiwan in many ways, but we tend to either ignore its existence or downplay its significance," Lu said.

"There are a lot of Chinese spies on the island, but none of us have reported them as such to the relevant authorities. [More ridiculously], these spies are treated as guests of honor here," she said.

Lu issued the warning yesterday as she delivered a speech at an academic conference on civilian-based defense.

The warning was made against the backdrop of a wave of terrorist attacks against the US, which shocked the world with its enormous damage and casualties.

"If a mighty country like the US cannot avoid terrorist attacks of such scale, can Taiwan be immune to similar attacks?" Lu asked. "We know we always have an enemy. It is the leadership in Beijing."

"Facing threats from China, we must develop a common understanding among our people. The people must be made to understand that the country now has many vulnerabilities stemming from the great freedom we now enjoy," Lu said.

"The people must have a psychological defense against the enemy. What we want is not just a defensive military. We are seeking a preventive defense."

Administrative deputy defense minister Vice Admiral Kao Yang (高揚), who also attended the conference on behalf of the Ministry of National Defense, said the military is looking for ways to deal with the kinds of massive terrorist attacks that just happened in the US.

Kao declined to comment on the military's ability to handle small scale terrorist attacks, saying only that the military has preparations for such attacks.

Lin Chi-lang (林吉郎), a serviceman-turned academic who now teaches at Nan Hua University, presented a paper at the conference and expressed doubts about the military's ability to cope with such contingencies.

Citing the rescue efforts conducted by the military in the wake of the catastrophic 921 earthquake, Lin said the military has a long way to go before it is competent to deal with such disasters and equivalent situations.

"Because of the lack of disaster-prevention and emergency-assistance training, the armed forces participating in the rescue efforts did not function well. Most of these soldiers were wasted on cleaning the debris of houses that collapsed in the earthquake," Lin said.

"As the earthquake struck the central parts of the island, many of the local townships lost communication links with the outside. Military units in those townships did not make good use of their communications equipment to report the conditions in the affected areas to the outside. This caused the central government to be unable to know the conditions in those areas until several days after the earthquake," he said.

Lin called on the military to add courses (on how to conduct rescue efforts in a disaster) to its training schedule.

Lin also suggested that the military consider training and mobilizing reserve troops for disaster-related rescue missions.

"The military's current recalls of reserve troops are meaningless since they are held only for the purpose of gathering the reservists together. The mobilization of reserve forces should not be a formality," Lin said.

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