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Tuesday, November 02, 1999, updated at 10:44(GMT+8)
World Old China-hand Refutes Taiwan Security Enhancement Act

An outstanding American expert on Chinese affairs has warned that the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act now pending a debate and vote in the Congress will inevitably reduce security of the Taiwan island of China and risk drawing the United States into a bloody showdown with China.

David M. Lampton, director of China Studies at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and the Nixon Center in Washington, made the warning in an article published in the Washington Post October 31.

"If enacted, the legislation would diminish Taiwan's security, alarm friends and allies, and greatly increase the chances of armed conflict between America and China," he said.

He urged the US president to veto the bill, which was introduced in the Senate by Jesse Helms and Robert Torricelli and in the House by Rep. Tom Delay.

If the legislation passes into law, Lampton stressed, "the American people can expect renewed military tension in the Taiwan strait" and "Taiwan citizens will risk falling markets, fleeing capital and diminished security."

He attributed the introduction of the bill in part to the Taiwanese lobbying effort "fueled by money given to politicians, Washington think tanks and law and public relations firms."

"If Washington makes it clear that it will support Taipei militarily no matter what it does, we inadvertently encourage unnecessarily provocative behavior by Taiwan that might draw the United States into bloody conflict with Beijing," he said.

Lampton said that from 1994 to 1996, Taipei was the fourth largest recipient of US arms, with the pace of deliveries jumping dramatically in 1997, largely because of the sale of F-16s. In 1997, he added, the United States sold 8.5 times the value of weapons (in constant dollars) to Taiwan than it did in 1981.

He called the US legislation "doubly provocative" since it not only stirs up Chinese nationalism but also reinforces those in Taiwan who believe "they can manipulate the US political system at will."

He said that the legislation, which directs the executive branch to establish direct military relationship with the Taiwan armed forces, amounts to "a functional re-establishment of the 1955 Mutual Defense Treaty with the island."

"This would run counter to the terms on which diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing were established in 1979, " he emphasized.

Lampton also accused the bill of encouraging the transfer of upper-tier antimissile defenses to Taiwan that do not yet exist and which the United States may eventually wish to keep under its own control. "Such a declaration would fuel a PRC (the People's Republic of China) missile buildup now," he added.

The Taiwan Security Enhancement Act was passed last week with a 32-6 vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. The House and Senate will cast a vote on the bill, which has been strongly opposed by the Clinton administration from the outset. (Xinhua)

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