Sat, Feb 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Defense minister dismisses PLA rumors

CNA , TAIPEI

National Defense Minister Lee Jye (李傑) denied media speculation yesterday that China's People's Liberation Army is increasing its combat readiness to intimidate Taiwan as a result of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan to abolish the National Unification Council.

Answering questions at an interpellation session in the Legislative Yuan, Lee said that incoming military intelligence about China is analyzed at the intelligence center of the Ministry of National Defense on a daily basis and that so far there has been no unusual movement by Chinese military forces.

"Everything has been business as usual so far," Lee said, adding that the guided missiles deployed on China's eastern coast remain in their usual positions, while Chinese fighter planes are showing no abnormally frequent take-offs and landings.

On a separate occasion, ministry spokesman Liu Chih-chien (劉志堅) denied media reports that the military will send an extra 20,000 infantry troops to Taipei to prevent the PLA from executing a "decapitation" operation.

In his Lunar New Year's address, Chen declared his intention to abolish the unification council and guidelines, a move that was later endorsed by the Democratic Progressive Party's Central Standing Committee.

Chen has refused to back down, despite US pressure.

The Chinese Nationalist Party and the People First Party have cautioned that the president's move could provoke China and cause tensions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to soar.

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