Sun, Aug 08, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Experts talk over China's possible war strategies

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Following Vice President Annette Lu's (呂秀蓮) claim on Friday that Taiwan and China are in a "quasi-war" state, academics warned yesterday that cross-strait tensions remain high at a conference discussing recent military exercises conducted by China, Taiwan and the US.

"Causes for conflict have been defused, but hidden concerns still exist" since President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inauguration on May 20, said Chang Wu-yen (張五岳), professor at Tamkang University's Institute of China Studies.

Presidential advisor Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志) chaired the conference, which was organized by the Taiwan New Century Foundation.

Along with efforts to modernize its military, China has increased its unification campaign among the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Chang said.

"It is now easier for PLA sol-diers to obtain information on the outside world through the Internet. In order to prevent the soldiers from being `polluted,' China launched media, psychological and legal wars against Taiwan," Chang said.

In the three wars, he said, Beijing attempted to demonize Taiwan's democratization, label Taiwan's constitutional reform as a move toward independence and make a unification law the legal basis for union with Taiwan, he said.

With its deep distrust of the nation's president, Beijing is watching closely to see whether the Democratic Progressive Party and its political ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, will win a majority of seats in the year-end legislative elections, Chang said.

"China fears Chen Shui-bian will push for amendment of the Referendum Law (公投法) after the legislative elections. It is worried that the president will use the law as a tool in the 2006 constitutional re-engineering project," he said.

"In fact, if China still believes it can effectively rein in Taiwan through the US, its relationship with Taiwan can remain stable," said Chang, who visited China, the US and Canada to collect opinions concerning the issue over the past month.

Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), a former Mainland Affairs Council vice chairman, said the recent visit of US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to Beijing revealed America's wish to maintain a normal relationship with China.

"The US would like to see China think about the boundary of its national interests. It particularly wants China to consider how to make its national interests compatible with those of the US," Chen Ming-tong said.

He said that the US, using a carrot-and-stick strategy with China, "has warned China not to hastily plunge into action and showed Beijing a way to go. This way will not contradict the US' national interests."

Considering the recent military exercises by China, Taiwan and the US, Wang Kung-yi (王崑義), an Tamkang University associate professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said that only under three conditions will the coun-tries' strategic roles change.

"First, the Chinese authorities start democratization or collapse. Second, China unifies with Taiwan. Third, Taiwan declares independence," said Wang.

Lacking patience to wait for one of the three conditions to take place, a number of Beijing hawks have been calling on the Chinese authorities to launch a war against Taiwan as soon as possible, Wang said.

These hawks regard the best time to start a war with Taiwan as in 2005 or 2006. With the 2008 Olympics in mind, China would try to minimize the scale of such a war, he said, for they believe that if a war were started after 2008, its impact might be much more far-reaching.

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