Despite showing goodwill and friendliness in its economic and cultural exchanges with Taiwan, China has never ceased its military exercises simulating attacks on the nation, former deputy defense minister Lin Chong-pin (林中斌) said yesterday.
Lin made the remarks after the US Department of Defense released its annual report on military and security developments in China, saying that Beijing has not slowed its efforts to expand its military options to deny any outside intervention in the Taiwan Strait, despite improvements in cross-strait ties in recent years.
While briefing reporters on the Pentagon report to be delivered to the US Congress, Michael Schiffer, US deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said that over the past year, China has continued to beef up its naval and aerial combat arsenal, including extending the range of its jet fighters and updating its submarines and surface warships, as well as conducting sea trials of its first aircraft carrier.
“None of the developments mentioned in the Pentagon report are new,” Lin said, adding that Beijing has consistently adopted a two-pronged strategy on Taiwan.
In terms of its “hard” approach, Lin said, China has accelerated its military modernization. In addition to deploying short-range ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army has continued to hold drills simulating attacks on Taiwan and its outlying islands.
“Since 2004, the [Chinese] military has refrained from conducting military exercises in its southeastern coastal areas opposite Taiwan, instead staging drills in the Chinese hinterland ... while they do not hype their live-fire drills, neither have they ever suspended them,” said Lin, who is a professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.
Lin said that Beijing has spared no effort in developing electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons, which do not cause human casualties, but disable electronic communications and command systems.
“Beijing’s top goal is to paralyze Taiwan rather than destroy it,” Lin said, adding that the ultimate goal of China’s development of military hardware and its training drills is to prevent the US from coming to Taiwan’s aid.
Lin said it has also become increasingly evident that Beijing is attempting to dominate and control East Asia without resorting to war, by pursuing a “supra-military” strategy to unify Taiwan through economic, cultural, diplomatic and political means.
He said resorting to force is the worst and least likely option available to Beijing at the moment.
“At present, Beijing’s strategy is to embrace Taiwan like an attractive bride ... Given Taiwan’s economic strength, use of force by China against Taiwan would be like killing the goose that lays golden eggs,” Lin said.