China's buildup threatens Taiwan

Saturday, July 13, 2002

WASHINGTON -- In a sobering new assessment, the Pentagon says China's military modernization threatens Taiwan and contradicts Beijing's stated desire for a peaceful resolution of the dispute over reunification.

"The Chinese doctrine is moving toward the goal of surprise, deception and shock effect in the opening phase of a campaign," the Pentagon asserted in a report to Congress submitted Friday.

"China is exploring coercive strategies designed to bring Taipei to terms quickly," it said.

One of the most troubling developments is China's buildup of short-range ballistic missiles in Fujian province, opposite Taiwan, the report said. They now total about 350 missiles and are gaining in accuracy and deadliness.

China also is developing variants of the mobile CSS-6 missile that would pose a threat to the Japanese island of Okinawa, where thousands of American forces are based, including those at Kadena Air Base, the report said.

More broadly, the Chinese military's increasing ability to exercise what the Pentagon calls coercive military options, including computer hacking and air and missile attacks, "presents challenges not only to Taiwan but also to other potential adversaries, such as the Philippines and Japan," it said.

Another problem area is China's recent acquisition of Russian-made submarines, which could be used to cut off Taiwan's sea lanes and to threaten American forces that might respond.

"The People's Republic of China's ambitious military modernization casts a cloud over its declared preference for resolving differences over Taiwan through peaceful means," the report said.

It said Beijing's main objective in any Taiwan crisis probably would be to compel the government in Taipei to settle on terms favorable to Beijing and to undertake military action quickly enough to preclude U.S. intervention.

"The specific coercive military strategy that Beijing would adopt is unclear and perhaps is the subject of extensive internal debate," the report said. "A coercive campaign may seek to deter or punish Taiwan through the sudden application of violence."

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