Tue, Jul 27, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Defense ministry preparing for the worst

DPA AND AFP , TAIPEI

A defense ministry official has admitted that the nation must withstand a first strike from China if it decides to attack, while assuming that the US and Japan would then come to the nation's aid, a Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday.

The paper quoted the unnamed official as saying that the absence of a mutual defense pact with the US and the fact that the US has never pledged to intervene in a war with China meant that the nation had to assume no one would help.

"The military must bear the first strike from China, and all our war plans are based on the concept that we will fight the war on our own," the official said.

"If war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, if foreign countries assist us, we will be very grateful, like in 1996 when the US sent two aircraft carriers into Taiwan's waters when ties with China reached a critical point," the official said.

"But we are not naive and we believe there will be outside assistance," he said.

"Under the Taiwan Relations Act, Washington's obligation is to supply arms to Taiwan, but not necessarily help defend Taiwan," the official said.

assistance

The newspaper said the nation still hoped that foreign countries would assist in the event that China attacked.

"During the Han Kuang 20 Military Drill, there was a political affairs coordination center. If war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, the center's task is to seek international help and internationalize the Taiwan issue so that the US and Japan can get involved in the war," the paper said.

Han Kuang is the name of the nation's annual war games aimed at repelling Chinese aggression. This year's Han Kuang drill began last month and will last until September or October.

The US has warned Taiwan not to provoke China and to prepare for fighting a war alone.

In related news, Taiwan has quietly canceled a visit by a US military delegation due to growing domestic objections to a controversial plan to buy advanced US weaponry worth billions of US dollars, a Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday.

The delegation, which was set to arrive in Taipei two weeks ago to discuss the arms sales plan, had its trip canceled on the eve of its departure, the newspaper said, without identifying the source.

"An evaluation showed it was not a good time for the visit before a consensus can be arrived at here," the source was quoted as saying.

"The arms sales must be handled carefully, or it might cause unnecessary problems," it said.

The defense ministry declined to comment on the report.

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