Wed, Dec 29, 2004 - Page 3 News List

US `not concerned' about PLA paper

By Charles Snyder and Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTERSIN WASHINGTON AND TAIPEI

The Bush administration is not concerned at this time over two recent Chinese official actions that seemingly set the stage for a potential Chinese military attack against Taiwan, Secretary of State Colin Powell said yesterday.

"I don't see reason for immediate concern at the moment," Powell said in response to a question about China's planned "anti-secession law" and a new defense white paper that targeted Taiwan as the main focus of China's military modernization.

Powell was asked during a Washington press conference about the anti-secession law currently being discussed by China's National People's Congress and a white paper on China's military modernization issued over the weekend.

"I'm aware that there is modernization taking place in the Chinese armed forces," he said.

"We are monitoring that closely, and we are in conversations with our Chinese colleagues about it," he said.

"And so, I don't see reason for immediate concern at the moment. I think everybody realizes that this isn't the time to escalate tensions in the Strait. And we hope that will continue to be the case," he said.

Powell also said the administration is "still committed to our `one China' policy."

Meanwhile, a ranking military official yesterday used the white paper to illustrate to the public the urgent need to move forward with the NT$610 billion special arms procurement budget.

"As far as we can see, China's defense white paper was basically drafted to outline their potential military strikes against Taiwan," said navy Captain Wang Shih-chien (汪士鑑), deputy director of the Ministry of National Defense's military intelligence research and collection center. "As a result, it is necessary for us to be equipped with enough forces to defend ourselves."

Wang made the remarks during a weekly press conference at the ministry yesterday morning.

Wang said that according to the white paper, China is obviously trying to expand and improve the capabilities of its amphibious troops, air force and the Second Artillery Corps -- China's strategic missile forces.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has strengthened the abilities of its amphibious troops by equipping them with more state-of-the-art weapons and giving them in-depth training courses.

The Chinese air force is now able to launch a large-scale attack as far away as Guam from China directly. The coverage of its battlezone has been enlarged.

As for the Second Artillery Corps, the Chinese military has been developing and remodeling its guided missiles so that their accuracy will be improved.

"In the past year, China has increased its military budget 12 percent. However, as usual, the Chinese government hides the real budget figures so that the real growth of its military budget will be two or three times more than what we were told," Wang said.

"In the meantime, they [the Chinese government] want to avoid the image that the Chinese government is always a military threat to its neighboring countries. That is also one of the reasons why it never announces its actual military budget," he said.

Wang said that China has always been a threat to peace in Asia.

"We shall trust each other and work together to remain peace in the area. But they [the Chinese] are not on the same track we are on now," Wang said.

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