Sun, Jul 24, 2005 - Page 3 News List

PRC trying to `isolate Taiwan:' US

DIVIDE AND CONQUER Beijing, seeking eventual unification with Taiwan, will use its influence on ASEAN to marginalize Taiwan, US experts argue

CNA , WASHINGTON

The purpose of China's efforts in aligning with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is to isolate Taiwan and drive it away from the US and countries in Southeast Asia, US experts said Friday.

Speaking at a hearing called by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission under the US Congress, Bronson Percival, a senior researcher at the Center for Naval Analysis, said that China is pressuring Southeast Asian countries to isolate Taiwan and that those countries are not willing to be dragged into a conflict by the US over the cross-strait impasse.

China now is increasingly emerging as the most unstable factor in East Asia due to its likelihood of attacking Taiwan, Percival said.

Dan Blumenthal, a former director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia affairs at the US Department of Defense, said that China is attempting to cement its influence in Southeast Asia and alienate the countries in the region from the US through the signing of a free trade agreement with the ASEAN member nations.

According to Blumenthal, who cited a recent annual report by the Pentagon on China's military power and strategy, China is aiming to increase its clout in Southeast Asia and adjacent sea areas through its military buildup that focuses on deploying more ballistic missiles, aircraft and destroyers.

Blumenthal suggested that Washington strengthen its ties with Australia, India, Vietnam and Japan as a counterweight to China's expansion in the region.

Another participant claimed that China's intention, rather than its military buildup and modernization, is the major concern to its neighboring countries, such as Japan, and to the US.

China's military expansion is aimed at increasing its influence in Asia, in particular toward Taiwan and the US military deployment in the Far East, he said, warning that future uncertainties will loom large in the region along with China's growing military might.

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