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. China reshuffles top navy officers amid Taiwan tensions: report
HONG KONG (AFP) Jan 05, 2005
China has reshuffled its top naval leadership in a move apparently aimed at strengthening its force targeting Taiwanese waters, a Hong Kong report said Wednesday.

Tong Shiping, deputy political commissar of the southern Guangzhou military region and political commissar of the South China Sea Fleet, has been named as director of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy's political department, the Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

Wu Huayang, political commissar of the North China Sea Fleet, has become deputy political commissar of China's navy.

"It goes without saying that this is significant," the newspaper said.

"It cannot be ruled out that the Taiwanese waters element is being considered following the reshuffle of high-ranking officers in navy headquarters," it added.

Tension between Beijing and Taipei has been heightened since Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian was re-elected last year, with China fearing his pro-independence moves were aimed at gaining formal sovereignty.

China has stepped up its rhetoric against Taiwan since Beijing recently proposed anti-secession law, which is aimed at preventing Taiwan -- which China considers a renegade province -- from declaring independence.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory waiting to be reunified, by force if necessary. The two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.

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