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US concerned over China military build-up, Taiwan: admiral

Taiwan showcases missile base amid China build-upTaiwan's air force showed off a key missile base Tuesday, allowing reporters into the facility for the first time amid warnings by President Chen Shui-bian of a Chinese missile build-up. During the visit to the high-security base outside the capital Taipei, the air force sought to demonstrate how the missile unit would respond to an air attack from China in case of war. Beijing has repeatedly warned of an invasion should Taiwan declare formal independence. During the visit, Taiwanese and foreign journalists were shown the command centre of the base, where Tien Kung surface-to-air missiles are deployed. Officers pointed out electronic screens linked to an advanced radar system capable of tracking multiple targets up to 300 kilometres (180 miles) away. Reporters were also permitted to visit two of the base's underground cells, each armed with four Tien Kung I and II vertically-launched missiles. Tien Kung I has a range of 100 kilometres, and Tien Kung II double that.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 15, 2008
The top commander of the US Pacific Fleet raised concern Tuesday over China's military build-up and urged Beijing to clarify the intentions of its increasingly sophisticated armed forces.

Admiral Timothy Keating said he urged Beijing to increase transparency in military affairs during talks with government and defence officials here which focused largely on the issue of Taiwan.

"China's military is developing very impressively," Keating told journalists.

"We are concerned about the development of long-range cruise and ballistic missiles, we are concerned about their anti-satellite technology (and) we are concerned about area denial weapons."

In talks Monday, Beijing agreed to higher-level military exchanges, which could help allay US concerns over China's military build-up, he said.

"We want to be very straightforward with our Chinese colleagues... increased transparency can lead to greater trust and reduces the potential for misunderstanding," Keating said.

"One of the reasons we are here is just to get to this question of intent... as misunderstanding can lead to conflict or crisis."

Keating met Monday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and General Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission.

In his talks, Keating was accompanied by Assistant US Secretary of Defense James Shinn and other US officials.

China reiterated to Keating its concern over US weapons sales to Taiwan, which it fears is emboldening independence forces there, China's foreign ministry said.

According to the Taiwan government, China has increased the number of ballistic missiles facing the island to more than 1,000 in recent years.

China views Taiwan as rebel territory and has threatened to retake it by force should it formally declare independence.

Keating said he discussed with Chinese officials the weekend legislative election defeat of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party led by Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who is reviled by Beijing.

But he refused to say whether the election result would reduce tensions ahead of the island's March 13 presidential elections.

Tensions between China and Taiwan traditionally spike ahead of the island's presidential elections with loud mainland sabre-rattling widely seen as helping Chen and other pro-independence candidates win.

"As far as the Pacific Command (is concerned), the election results are what they are," Keating said, "we will see how this unfolds with our overarching concern for the stability across the Taiwan Straits."

On Monday, top Chinese General Chen Bingde suggested the United States had no reason to fear China's military.

"We don't have the ability to make you afraid of us," he told reporters.

Chen also said foreign naval vessels were welcome to visit Hong Kong, in remarks apparently aimed at soothing US anger after its Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier battle group was denied a visit in November last year.

Keating said Chinese officials replied positively to a possible future Hong Kong port call.

China also replied positively to an invitation to participate with US forces in a multi-lateral military exercise in Thailand in May, he said.

Asked if war between China and the United States over Taiwan was imminent, Keating said the US would avoid such a conflict at all cost.

"We are making every effort, not just unilateral, but bilateral and multilateral... to make sure to the very best of our ability that there is not conflict," he said.

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Taiwan condemns China's 'chequebook diplomacy' over Malawi ties
Taipei (AFP) Jan 14, 2008
Taiwan on Monday strongly denounced its rival China for using money to lure away Malawi after the African country had earlier said it was setting up diplomatic ties with Beijing.

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