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Taipei says China defence build-up to deter US intervention

by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) May 12, 2008
China is building up its military defences to deter US intervention in case of war with Taiwan, the island's defence ministry said Monday.

Beijing is focusing on developing long-range missiles "to strike at American bases and battle carrier groups stationed in the Asia-Pacific... so as to block the United States from coming to the rescue of Taiwan should war break out in the Taiwan Strait," the ministry said in a report released Monday.

"Although the Chinese communists have claimed they would like to solve the Taiwan issues in a peaceful manner, they have asked their forces to step up preparation for military struggles against Taiwan," the report said.

China believes that "if it employs military actions against Taiwan, foreign intervention would be its greatest concern, with the United States being the most significant foreign power," it added.

Taiwan and the mainland have been governed separately since 1949, but Beijing sees the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

China has repeatedly pledged to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence.

Taiwan's defence ministry says China has targeted the island with more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missies.

The report came eight days before President Chen Shui-bian of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party retires at the end of his second and final four-year term.

The Beijing-friendly incoming President Ma Ying-jeou has guaranteed to act to end hostilities, which have hamstrung relationships across the strait despite ever closer economic ties.

The People's Liberation Army's budget increased 17.8 percent to 44.94 billion US dollars in 2007, official figures show, making China the third largest military spender in the world after the United States and Russia.

But Taiwan's report said the true figure was two or three times that, and warned that China's rapid military expansion had tipped the military balance in the strait.

For its part, Taiwan in 2008 plans to boost its military spending to 3.0 percent of GDP, up from 2.69 percent in 2007.

The island plans to purchase from the United States 66 F-16 C/D fighters, eight conventional submarines, 12 submarine-hunting aircraft and more Patriot anti-missile weapons systems.

The US de facto envoy in Taipei Stephen Young in late April assured Ma that Washington would continue to back Taiwan militarily while it pushes for peace talks with China.

Washington has been the island's leading arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.

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US warns China of 'technological isolation'
Washington (AFP) May 8, 2008
The United States warned China Thursday that it risked "technological isolation" for developing unique technical standards of its own that also are shutting out foreign competition.

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