Tue, Oct 17, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Ministry of National Defense counters missile base reports

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA, TAIPEI

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) denied reports yesterday that it is installing a missile base on an outlying island to serve as a launch platform for direct attacks against China.

The MND was responding to reports carried by the Chinese-language United Daily News, which also said that the ministry is building the nation's first ever "strategic force" and that they will have small-scale combat readiness capacity by next year.

The MND said in a press release that no missile base is being installed on an outlying island, and also denied reports that a US general came to Taiwan in August to express concern about the matter.

"The media reports are pure speculation, and the MND regrets that the newspaper did not first check with the ministry before publishing them," the ministry said.

The ministry has followed the strategic concept of "effective deterrence and resolute defense" in building up the nation's armed forces to ensure security in the Taiwan Strait, it said.

The MND added that it hopes the media will carefully verify its reports in the future, noting that unfounded news reports could mislead others and trigger serious concerns in the international community as well as affect the nation's security.

In related news, tensions have mounted in the international community as a result of North Korea's nuclear test, especially in Japan and South Korea, reminding the people of Taiwan of the importance of national defense, academics said in a forum yesterday.

"The North Korean nuclear issue has allowed Taiwan's people to understand why Japan and South Korea have made national defense a top priority," said Academia Sinica research fellow Lin Cheng-yi (林誠一) at the Taiwan Forum, an event organized by the Taiwan Thinktank.

The nuclear issue has psychological implications for both Taiwan's government and its people, added Lin, who also lamented the lack of discussion on the issue via public platforms such as the media, due to the anti-corruption protests and political unrest in recent months.

"Taiwan has been more `inward looking' over the past few months," Lin said, referring to neglect of the nuclear issue on the part of Taiwan's media and public, which have paid more attention to domestic political problems.

Analyzing the issue on a broader scale, Tamkang University professor Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒) said the issue was probably good news for Taiwan, "as long as the People's Republic of China fails to constrain North Korea on its nuclear program."

Some political observers believe the US was in the past ready to "trade the issue of Taiwan with China in exchange for China's cooperation on North Korea," said David Huang (黃偉峰), former deputy chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

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