Fri, Aug 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

China willing to sacrifice lives for Taiwan, Sha says

AFP , LONDON

China's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, throwing diplomatic language to the wind, told the US yesterday in no uncertain terms to "shut up and keep quiet" on the subject of Beijing's growing military spending.

Interviewed for a BBC radio program on the topic, Sha Zukang (沙祖康) also said China would "do the business" and sacrifice its own people's lives if any nation supported a declaration of independence by Taiwan.

Responding to jitters within the {George W.} Bush administration about Beijing's spiraling military budget, Sha said the US itself accounts for half of the entire world's military spending.

"The Chinese population is six times or five times that of the United States," he said. "Why blame China?... It's better for the US to shut up and keep quiet. It's much, much better."

His voice rising, Sha continued: "It's the US' sovereign right to do whatever they deem good for them -- but don't tell us what is good for China. Thank you very much!"

Sha was equally explicit on Taiwan declaring independence with US backing -- a prospect that the BBC program, by former Beijing correspondent Carrie Gracie, called the motivating factor behind Chinese military spending.

"The moment Taiwan declares independence, supported by whoever, China will have no choice," he said. "We will do the business through whatever means available to the government. Nobody should have any illusions on that. We will do the business at any cost."

He added: "It's not a matter of how big Taiwan is, but for China, one inch of the territory is more valuable than the life of our people. We will never concede on that."

China's rising military spending, which has grown by double digits for much of the last 15 years, has caused concern in the US and among China's neighbors in Asia.

In March the National People's Congress, largely a rubber-stamp for decisions taken at the top level of the Chinese Communist Party, approved a 14.7 percent increase in military spending to US$5 billion this year.

Although this is paltry compared to the US$ 419 billion US defense budget this year, the Pentagon last year estimated that China's defense spending was two to three times the publicly announced figure.

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