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UPDATED: 21:51, June 07, 2004
Arms purchases at a cost of 600 billion in return for waves of protests
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Recently, Taiwan departments concerned adopted "a special budgetary program for major military purchases", deciding to buy three items of arms from the United States, namely 388 "Patriot" fly-bombs, eight submarines, 12 P3C anti-submarine aircraft decommissioned by US troops, involving a total amount well over 610.8 billion new Taiwan dollars, and to raise funds through the issuance of stocks, the selling of land and the issuance of public bonds.

This move has triggered off a wave of vehement criticisms. Some public opinions noted that at a time when foreign capital is flowing out gradually and attempts are made to revive the economic market but lacking in strength, and yet the authorities are issuing public bonds in return for conditions provided by the United States in defense of Taiwan, this is the same as killing the hen to get eggs and drinking poison to quench thirsts, what is bought at a cost of 600 billion new Taiwan dollars is not an "insurance policy", but "disaster of war".

According to the island's media reports, the present arms purchase program is the largest arms purchase budget over the years, furthermore, the 410 billion worth of submarine budget is the highest in all US previous quoted prices, people in all Taiwan social sectors have doubts about this.

With regard to the reason why Taiwan authorities dished out such a huge amount of military purchase budgetary program at this time, personages in Taipei pointed out that the large-scale purchase of American weapons is a bargaining counter used by Chen Shui-bian during the period of election in order to get US support of his "referendum-bound election", now he is going to put his program into practice, from here one can clearly see Chen-led authorities' character of following the United States.

Some people said suspiciously that earlier some US Congressmen tabled a motion demanding that Taiwan send troops to Iraq, this was not aimless shooting, obviously America had predicted that this would arouse protests from the Chinese mainland and opposition from the Taiwan people, so they released this trial balloon in order to pave the way for the arms purchase program at a cost of 600 billion new Taiwan dollars.

That is to say, since Taiwan is not willing to dispatch troops in support of the United States, it naturally needs to buy an "arms purchase guarantee slip" worth 600 billion in order to guarantee Taiwan's security. Americans are well aware that the farther Taiwan authorities go into the ideological blind alley, the greater possibility there is for them to derive benefit from the balance of Taiwan-mainland relationship.

Wang Wu-lang, director-general of the "Labor, Human Right Association" in Kaoxiung City, Taiwan, published an article in a newspaper in which he noted: it is believed that the uneasiness in the hearts of ordinary Taiwan people is greater and higher than the amount spent on arms purchase, they are worried that what arms purchase brings to them is not the defense of peace, but the beginning of panic. They fear that the Chen Shui-bian authority would, counting on its sophisticated weapons, push forward its "gradual Taiwan independence" in the course of maintaining the status quo, implement its so-called "resisting unification by force" and carry out its "peace separation movement", thus finally bringing about disaster of war between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits.

The commentary titled "What is bought at a cost of 600 billion" published in Taiwan's United Daily points out: it is held that the "cross-Strait crisis" in 1996 was provoked by Lee Teng-hui's words of mouth. The recent tense atmosphere across the Taiwan Straits, that has "reached an unprecedented degree of gravity" came from Chen Shui-bian's "remark on referendum" and from his statement about "enactment of constitution". Talking less words by the ruler can help achieve the result of cross-Strait relaxation of atmosphere, and now the Taiwan ruler would rather "buy security" at the cost of 600 billion new Taiwan dollars taken from the pockets of taxpayers. Could this act justifiable?

The above article was published on the front page of People's Daily (Overseas Edition) June 7, 2004 and translated by People's Daily Online.

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