Thursday, May 24, 2012

Taiwan warns SEA: Watch out for Chinese military buildup

TAIPEI: A Taiwanese official on Wednesday warned the Philippines and its Southeast Asian neighbors to be wary of China’s aggressive military buildup.

According to Joseph Shih-Chie Hua, director general of Cultural and Educational Affairs-Mainland Affairs Council of Taiwan, China’s efforts to modernize its military should not only raise concerns in Taiwan, but also in other countries in the region.

He said that besides Taiwan and the Philippines, countries like the United States, Japan and South Korea should also keep an eye on Beijing’s massive military development.

Hua issued the statement in reponse to a US Defense Department (USDD) report suggesting that China has been aggressively modernizing its military by producing a number of carriers over the next decade.

In its annual report to the US Congress, the department described an ambitious Chinese military program aimed at transforming the People’s Liberation Army into a modern force that is fueled by military spending.

“Its main goals include preserving Communist Party rule and preparing for possible hostilities in the Taiwan Strait,“ the report said.

Hua shared the Pentagon’s view, saying that it is very expensive to put up a conventionally powered aircraft carrier.

“That’s their toy, because do you know how much money you have to spend [in] building carriers . . . You need three naval ships to protect this carrier, and under water you need a submarine [for it],” he added.

The Taiwanese official said that once the Chinese government modernizes its military, it will make the country the most powerful in the region.

“If China wants to build . . . three aircraft carriers, it means that [it has] already changed the strategical map. [If that happens], I think the Chinese Navy [would be] very powerful in the region,” he added.

He expressed fears that once the military buildup is finished, it would have the “capacity” to wipe out Taiwan.

China is not only engaged in a territorial conflict with the island-nation, but also with the Philippines over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, also called Bajo de Masinloc.

The standoff started on April 10, when Chinese vessels prevented the Philippine warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar from arresting Chinese fishermen who were found exploiting marine sources in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

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