Bernard Cole, a professor at the National War College in Washington, reminded Taiwan yesterday that it faces a great military threat from China, advising that the nation should never neglect this factor in its military strategic analyses.
The US specialist in war affairs sounded the warning at a forum on regional security and national defense in Taipei.
The event, organized by the Ministry of National Defense, gave Cole an opportunity explain his previous remarks, which had cast doubt on the combat capability and will of Taiwan's military force.
Cole also gave his opinion on Taiwan's plans to make adjustments in its military organization and to expand the recruitment of voluntary military personnel.
"It is a long way to go, " he said, noting that Taiwan will first need to resolve its financial and military investment problems.
Also participating in the two-day forum that opened yesterday were Randy Schriver, former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Dan Blumenthal, vice chairman of the US-China Security, and Economic Review Commission and many retired military officers from Japan, the US and India.
Meanwhile, in related news, President Chen Shui-bian (
The number has increased from 200 to 988 over the past six years or so, Chen said.
"When I first became president in 2000, the tactical missiles deployed along the southeastern coast of China were about 200. As of the end of last year, that number had increased to 880. Another 108 cruise missiles are aimed against us," Chen said.
Chen made the remarks while receiving a group of visitors from the UK-based Royal United Services Institute for Defense Studies at the Presidential Office.
Chen said Beijing had finished preparing its three-stage military plan against Taiwan, which has engendered serious debate about how to address the threat.
"Intelligence reports show that China was to establish contingency-response combat capabilities by 2007, reach combat capability for large-scale military engagement by 2010 and ensure victory in a decisive battle by 2015," he said.
Chen told his visitors it was the government's duty to defend the nation's sovereignty, dignity, security, democracy and freedom as well as cross-strait peace and stability.
"China has never given up its intention to use force or coercion against Taiwan, as reflected by its military budget, which has undergone double-digit increases for 18 consecutive years since the Tiananmen Incident," he said.
"And the `Anti-Secession Law' provides Beijing with the legal basis to use force," he added.
Chen called on the EU to refrain from lifting its arms embargo on China.
"The embargo was enforced because of the Tiananmen Incident," he said.
"Over the past 18 years, China hasn't improved its record on human rights and still deprives its people of the most elementary freedoms," he said.
"To lift the embargo would result in arms sales to China -- arms that it could then use to attack Taiwan," he added.
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