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China renews threats to use military force against Taiwan
Taipei, 16 October 2000
In a white paper titled China's National Defense in 2000, issued on 15 October 2000 by its State Council, equivalent to the Cabinet, China made renewed threats of use of military force against Taiwan. It said the situation with Taiwan "is complicated and grim", and said it would "adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force," against the democratic island nation of 23 million people.
The paper also said that China's military buildup was justified because of "hegemonism and power politics", code words for American power in Asia. The paper expressed China's opposition to Washington's sale of defensive arms to Taiwan and inclusion of the island in a regional Theatre Missile Defense system (TMD).
In a response from Taipei, Mr. Yu Shyi-kun, secretary-general to President Chen Shui-bian, called on China to resolve the differences peacefully, stating that he hoped that China would work together with Taiwan to pursue peace in the region.
Taiwan's military in the meantime stated that the island had "the capability and the faith" to defend itself robustly.
In Washington, the United States, in an initial response said that it was counterproductive for Beijing to emphasise the use of force in its campaign to gain control of Taiwan. "We reject the use of force or the threat of the use of force to resolve the Taiwan question," said an official in the U.S. State Department.
He added that "...we have told the Chinese at senior levels, comments that focus on possible use of force (against Taiwan) are counterproductive to the peaceful resolution of differences."
The policy paper confirmed that the People's Liberation Army - still the world's largest force - has been trimmed to approximately 2.5 million troops, following a reduction of 500,000 soldiers over the past three years.
It also claimed that defense expenditure this year amounted to $14.6 billion, which it said was just 5% of Washington's spending, and 30% of Japan's.
Western analysts believe, however, that China's actual defense spending is three to five times higher than the official figures, which are not thought to include purchases of sophisticated weapons at home and abroad. During the past few years, China has acquired submarines, destroyers, and advanced fighter aircraft from Russia.