Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, July 25, 2002

Taiwan Military Build-up Dangerous: Analysis

On Tuesday, Taiwan's military unveiled its 2002 defence report, the first of its kind since Chen Shui-bian took office.


On Tuesday, Taiwan's military unveiled its 2002 defence report, the first of its kind since Chen Shui-bian took office.

In the report, Taiwan claimed that the current national defence policy is based on the concept of "prevention of war," and maintained that the modernization and restructuring of the armed forces are under the strategic guidance of "effective deterrence, resolute defence."

The tone of this report is reminiscent of the United States Pentagon report released on July 12, called the Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, which warned of a threat from Chinese mainland, fabricated a phased Chinese mainland invasion into Taiwan, and called for closer co-operations between the US and Taiwan.

The Pentagon report may aim to justify its arms sales to Taiwan and the Bush administration's pursuit of perhaps the closest military and political ties with Taiwan in decades.

This could only play into the hands of pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

Taiwan's defence report makes it self-evident that the island expects that it can depend on the United States to realize its rigorous and ambitious military restructuring objectives.

As early as March, James Kelly, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, overtly told a conference on arms sales to Taiwan: "We want to hear from Taiwan about the defensive capabilities it assesses that it will need in the medium to long term." The message is clear - The United States is prepared to give Taiwan's military whatever it wants.

In fact, the United States has never honoured its pledge to the Chinese Government that it will reduce the scale of its arms sales to Taiwan.

A recent article in the US trade weekly Defence News said that the US Government will allow more arms sales to Taiwan, a promise that goes beyond its April 2001 arms deal to sell Taiwan four Kidd-class destroyers and 12 maritime surveillance aircraft.

This US support of Taiwan's military will not only hurt Sino-US relations but also bring dire consequences to Taiwan.

With this American encouragement, Taipei's pro-independence forces might pursue "Taiwan independence" even more fervently. This could run the risk of pushing the island to the brink of war. If this is the case, it will simply be disastrous for Taiwan.

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