Fri, Aug 13, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Invasion could be fended off for two weeks, report says

REUTERS , Taipei

The nation could withstand an attack from China for two weeks, a local newspaper said yesterday, in comments seen aimed at assuaging fears raised by a computer simulation indicating that Taipei could be captured in six days.

Tensions have been running high in the Taiwan Strait as China prepares for a possible military showdown, convinced President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) will push for formal statehood during his second term.

Both sides are holding their annual war games, with China staging mock-invasion drills and Taiwan pretending to fend off an attack.

A computer-simulated exercise showed the 2.5-million-strong People's Liberation Army (PLA) could take the island's capital in just six days, Taiwan local media reported on Wednesday.

The China Times yesterday quoted authoritative military sources as saying the computer had made certain assumptions -- such as no help from the United States -- and it did not mean Taiwan would be defeated so quickly.

"The sources indicate, in the event of a `first strike,' the air force and navy can preserve of their fighting capabilities while the army can maintain 80 percent of its fighting capabilities," the newspaper said.

"Under these circumstances, Taiwan can hold on for two weeks in the event of a war in the Taiwan Strait," the source added.

Yu Mao-chun, an expert on the PLA at at the US Naval Academy, dismissed the possibility of conflict soon. "I don't see any chance of war soon. But there are many political factors giving both sides the motive to raise tensions," Yu told reporters in Hong Kong.

He listed some problems in the PLA, including lack of consistency in its long-term mission and a need to streamline.

Military experts say China is accelerating its arms build-up in preparation for war, but the PLA still lacks sophisticated amphibious vessels to turn it into a credible invasion force.

Furthermore, the expectation is that Washington would meet its treaty obligations and come to Taiwan's rescue, either through diplomatic pressure on China, intelligence aid or actual combat assistance.

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