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.
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb