Tue, Nov 11, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Tang cautious about relying on US

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) yesterday said the US is very likely to help Taiwan defend itself against China, but he cautioned against completely relying on America.

"If we do not take any provocative action against China, the US is very likely to offer a hand to us to defend against an attack from China. The US will do so to maintain security in the region," Tang said.

"But past experience told us that we cannot count on a foreign country for survival. Taiwan once had a security pact with the US. But who would have expected the US to turn against us for China?" he said.

Tang made the remarks yesterday at a meeting of the legislature's National Defense Committee in response to questions from lawmakers over the possibility of an armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

Tang said such a scenario was unlikely in the near future but he reminded lawmakers that China is still preparing for military action against Taiwan.

"China's strategy now is to control Taiwan through economic development. But information shows that the Chinese military is still making preparations for an invasion of Taiwan," he said.

He declined to say whether the pro-independence movement would be construed as a possible excuse by China for an invasion.

Yesterday's committee meeting occasioned a rare display of force by top military leaders.

It was the first time that the commanders-in-chief of the army, air force, navy, combined logistic command, armed forces reserve command and military command appeared together at a committee meeting, but it won't be the last.

The committee has demanded the generals' presence to answer questions about next year's proposed defense budget and their budget requests. The top brass will have to appear at the next four committee meetings this week and next week, which are to be devoted solely to the defense budget.

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