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China, Never to Be on the Hedge

Posted April. 02, 2004 22:29,   


In the aftermath of Taiwan’s presidential election, the dispute between China and Taiwan has been plunging into another round of tension between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. Defense Department announced its plan to sell various kinds of high-tech weapons to the island immediately after this election results were released.

“My role is explicitly mandated in the Taiwan Relations Act. I am responsible for evaluating state affairs and reporting its outcome to the Defense Secretary and the President. I must answer for helping Taiwan protect itself,” the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Admiral Thomas Fargo, stressed before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Thursday. Undoubtedly, it was an overt remark toward China.

Conflicts between Washington and Beijing surrounding Taiwan as well as the North Korean nuclear problem will seem to be a significant factor determining Northeast Asia politically from now on.

--Taiwan’s expansion of armaments

The Taiwanese Military Authorities established its Missile Command under the premise of preparing itself from potential missile threats from the Mainland China on Thursday.

The Missile Command was organized under the largest-scale military system reform in 80-year-history of Taiwanese Military, with equivalent standing to the island’s land, sea and air forces. It will perform a mission similar to China’s Strategic Missile Troops under the jurisdiction of the Defense Ministry’s General Staff Office.

The Missile Command includes a number of military forces such as anti-aircraft defense forces in the Army and some anti-ship missile forces in the Navy.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian’s stance toward its independence seems to be reflected in restructuring the military system, including the creation of Missile Command. Its mission is to launch preemptive attacks on strategic targets on the mainland China as well as missile defense during military conflicts between the mainland and island.

An issue of “Jane’s Missiles and Rockets’, a British defense information magazine, reported that Taiwan has been developing 30 intermediate-range missiles with 2,000 km range and 120 short-range missile of 1,000 km range long as part of its ten-year effort in missile research.

Behind the scenes, the U.S. appears to support the establishment of Taiwan’s Missile Command. While it builds the Missile Defense (MD) System, which will connect Japan and Taiwan against China, the U.S. is trying to sell to Taiwan the Patriot Missile-3 (PAC-3), the core part of its Missile Defense.

In addition, the U.S. Defense Department reported to Congress on Wednesday that it would sell a long-range radar sensor system for ballistic missile defense to Taiwan, which can detect ballistic missiles and cruise missiles early through the use of ultra-high frequencies. The Taipei government has wanted to buy this radar system since 1999, which is worth 1.78 billion dollars.

--Mounting Battle between Washington and Beijing

As it deployed about 500 short-range missiles in the Taiwan Strait, China warned in a comment by the Foreign Ministry that it firmly opposes America’s plan to sell weapons to Taiwan. It vigorously criticized the Taiwan Relations Act for being an apparent intervention in Chinese domestic affairs.

The U.S. government replied that America’s deal with Taiwan is legitimate under the Taiwan Relations Act, defining its responsibility to offer weapons to Taiwan for the sake of Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities.