Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 3 News List

US-Japan pact would deter war: experts

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Seeking "common strategic objectives," military experts said that China would be less likely to launch an invasion of Taiwan under a new US-Japan joint agreement seeing security in the Taiwan Strait.

Former vice-minister of National Defense Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), also a military expert, told the Taipei Times yesterday that the nation's security would be enhanced under such an agreement, and China would think hard before engaging in military actions toward Taiwan because the cost of a war would be much higher.

However, Lin said he did not expect Beijing to respond angrily to US and Japanese plans regarding the new agreement, as its diplomacy is more skillful and subtle. China has typically avoided confrontation with the US on Taiwan-related issues, he noted.

"I see the agreement as concerning Washington's core interest; a stable and secure Taiwan Strait," Lin said.

"This means that Washington is enhancing, not reducing, its military commitments toward Taiwan," he added.

However, Lin said of the political front, the US still wanted to cool down tensions in the Taiwan Strait and exert pressure on Taiwan to prevent it from declaring de jure independence.

He said under the agreement, Taiwan should seek more military exchanges and cooperation with the US and Japan -- particularly in the intelligence field -- but all of the cooperation must be carried out quietly.

Meanwhile, Lee said he did not view the US-Japanese agreement as a new development. He said under a 1996 US-Japanese agreement, Japan agreed to cooperate with the US in areas surrounding Japan that are essential to its security.

When ex-Japanese Premier Ryutaro Hashimoto was asked at a Lower House meeting in 1998 that whether the Taiwan Strait was included in the 1966 alliance, Hashimoto responded positively, Lee pointed out.

"I would not say China would be deterred entirely from attacking Taiwan under the agreement, but I would say China would consider more carefully the cost of a war," Lee said.

Lee also said China's military buildup has not only targeted Taiwan, but also prepared for a conflict with the US and Japan if both countries got in the way of an invasion of Taiwan.

Japan's worries about China's ability to strike its territory has prompted the country to strengthen its military alliance with the US under the new agreement, Lee said.

Lee also said that Taiwan's military exchanges with the US and Japan have been increasing. As an example, he cited the fact that US and Japanese personnel have worked in Taiwan last year.

He said while Taiwan is in the process of obtaining weapons from the US, the it would do well to acquire better 4CISR capabilities -- communications, command and electronics systems.

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