Tue, Nov 21, 2006 - Page 2 News List

China still no threat to US: MND

PRIMACY Despite Beijing's military advances, the Ministry of National Defense expressed confidence that the US still could come to the nation's aid successfully

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A top defense official yesterday said that the Chinese military still does not represent a threat to US forces in the Western Pacific but added that the modernization of its military was making great strides.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tang Huo-shen (湯火聖) and other legislators yesterday expressed their concerns at a legislative national defense committee meeting over a military tilt in the strait.

Tang said that a report to the US Congress released last week by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a high-level congressional advisory panel, indicated that China's military modernization was giving China a greater advantage in the Taiwan Strait, with China's increasing capability to deny access to US forces coming to Taiwan's aid.

He also made a reference to last week's news reports about a Chinese submarine that had been tracking a US Navy aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and had remained undetected until it surfaced within firing range.

The Chinese Song-class diesel-powered attack submarine was seen within 8km of the carrier, Tang said, according to the reports.

"If we link the congressional report with the submarine incid-ent, it raises questions as to whether the US is losing its military edge in the Western Pacific," Tang added.

The legislator said that if the US aircraft carrier group failed to detect the Chinese submarine, he wondered whether the Taiwanese Navy could do any better with the US made P-3C maritime patrol aircraft the country intends to purchase from the US.

In response, Deputy Minister of National Defense Ko Chen-heng (柯承亨) said that "although Taiwan military and most US military officials agreed that Chinese military forces are making impressive progress, I doubt [China] has the capability to prevent US forces from entering the Taiwan Strait if the US military ever decided to do so."

"I think the US military is still confident it could emerge successfully from any encounter with the Chinese military and that China still does not represent a threat to US forces in the Western Pacific," Ko added.

Ko said that the military was aware that the Chinese submarine had surfaced around 8km from the US aircraft carrier. However, it had no information as to whether the submarine had surfaced voluntarily or had been forced to do so after being detected by US radar.

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