The recent concurrent military exercises launched by Taiwan, China, and the US have raised alarm over China's military buildup, offering a reminder that the Taiwan Strait remains one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints, experts said yesterday. \nAt a conference held by the Taiwan New Century Foundation in Taipei, scholars and experts discussed the shifting military balance across the strait and explored strategies to enhance the country's geopolitical value to the US in face of a growing threat from China. \n"The US' annual report on China's military clout issued in May made it clear that China is emerging as a regional hegemon. China's surging military power has significantly altered the strategic balance in Taiwan-US-China relations," said presidential advisor Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志). \nThe report from the US Defense Department indicated that China's annual defense spending is between US$50 billion and US$70 billion a year, giving it the world's third-largest military budget. \nExperts also turned the spotlight on China's eighth annual military drill around Dongshan Island. "The PLA's (People's Liberation Army) joint forces exercise rehearsed an invasion of Taiwan and [served as] a practice to capture air and sea dominance in the Strait. The exercise tells of China's readiness for a full-fledged war," said Wang Kung-yi (王崑義), a Tamkang University associate professor of international affairs and strategic studies. \nWang's observation is supported by the Chinese People's Daily. The state mouthpiece pointed out that the Dongshan exercise was conducted on the assumption that Taiwan proclaimed independence. In that case, the newspaper declared, the PLA would immediately take the Penghu Islands, forming a deterrent and an outpost position for racing to control Taiwan. \n"As before, the military maneuvers are to deter Taiwanese from moving toward indepen-dence," Wang said. \nOthers contended that the US' current global deployment of seven aircraft carriers for an exercise named Summer Pulse 2004 shows that the world's leading power is concerned with the strained cross-strait relations. They said the concurrent military display implies that the US is also eyeing its interests in the Asia-Pacific region. \n"After the power transfer in Iraq, anti-terrorism ceased to be the sole focus. The issue of security in the Asia-Pacific region has now returned to the US agenda. Taiwan's geopolitical importance is now on the rise," said Yan Jian-fa (顏建發), vice chair of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' research and planning committee. \nAccording to Yan, some unnamed US consultants took part in Taiwan's Han Kuang maneuvers in July, demonstrating high-level contacts between US and Taiwan military commanders. However, experts agreed that securing US support requires multilateral efforts in a wider regional context. \n"We must maximize our mutual interests with the US to win Washington's persistent support," said Chen Min-tong (陳明通), a former Mainland Affairs Council vice chairman. \nHe said that seeking greater overlapping of the two nations' respective national interests can entrench Taiwan's strategic position in the archipelagos arching alongside Russia and China. \nChen cited the much-discussed Nye Report, a blueprint for the Bush administration's East Asia policy, to emphasize the role Taiwan can play in an ocean-oriented framework of warfare. \nIn Chen's analysis, a fortified alliance with Japan will help include Taiwan in the East Asian safety network laid down by the US-Japan Defense Guidelines. \n"The China-Japan relationship is deteriorating. On the contrary, Taiwan is improving its ties with her neighbor country. We should seize the opportunity to nurture relations with Japan," Chen said. \nAnother strategy to promote Taiwan's security is to boost the island's military spending. Experts in the conference said that with more than 500 missiles pointed at Taiwan, it is not a choice but a necessity to step up defense. \n"We urge those who oppose the arms procurement to think twice before they jump to conclusions. Despite an absence of military conflict at the moment, we are already in a psychological war, cultural war, economic war with China," said Shu Chin-Chiang (蘇進強), secretary-general of the National Cultural Association.
FATAL FIRE: The health department is trying to contact the inspector who visited the site of the illegal nursing home to ask why they did not advise follow-up checks The Taipei City Government yesterday said that a health department inspector last year had visited the site of a long-term care facility in Neihu District (內湖) after receiving a report questioning its status. A fire broke out at the facility on Tuesday afternoon, killing three people. The Taipei Fire Department said that it received a report about a fire on the first floor of a four-story residential building on Kangning Road Sec. 1 at 2:38pm on Tuesday, firefighters arrived at 2:43pm and the fire was put out by 3:07pm. The firefighters found three men in beds and rushed them to hospital for
THE CHINA CONNECTION: As Beijing’s aggression increases, so does Taiwanese consciousness, making a new constitution imperative, Hsu Wei-chun said If the nation is to ratify a new constitution, it must first end any illusions about the current document’s relevance to Taiwan, an academic told a forum in Taipei yesterday. For the constitutional revisionist movement to succeed, it needs public enthusiasm, the right timing and a clear plan of action, Chung Yuan Christian University associate professor Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) told attendees at the event titled “Imagining a New Constitution for a New Era,” which was organized by the National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association. The Constitution exists under the “one China” framework and has little relevance to Taiwan, Hsu said, adding that
Yuchi Township (魚池) fishers have appealed to the Nantou County Government for help in dealing with an invasive fish species in Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), where it has devastated the local ecosystem. Fishers at Sun Moon Lake have been using electrofishing in an attempt to eliminate the giant snakehead fish — found in Africa and Southeast Asia — but they have struggled to keep up with the growing population of the species, which breeds during September and October, the county government said on Monday. The county has contacted researchers at National Tsing Hua University, saying it hoped they could come up
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged Beijing to respect the median line of the Taiwan Strait by immediately stopping its military intimidation of Taiwan, as such actions would only hurt the feelings of Taiwanese. Beijing should immediately stop making military provocations against Taiwan, Ma wrote on Facebook after Chinese warplanes in the past week have made numerous forays across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait. Although it has never officially acknowledged the median line, Beijing used to respect it, Ma said in response to comments on Monday by Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌), who said