China threatens Taiwan again

Washington, 27 July 1998

In a formal government defense White Paper issued by China's State Council (Cabinet) on 27 July 1998, the Chinese Communist authorities in Beijing reiterated their military threats against Taiwan.

The 30,000 word White Paper, which was released by the government news agency Xinhua, was as unyielding as ever regarding Taiwan, and stated that Beijing had a "...right to use all means it thinks necessary, including military means..." to attack Taiwan.

The policy review also assailed "hegemonism" -- a veiled reference to the United States, and the U.S. - Japan security agreement, which is designed to safeguard security in East Asia, and was agreed to in Tokyo in April 1997 to guard against any attack that would disturb safety and security in East Asia.

The Paper was the first published defense policy review since 1995. The United States and other nations have urged China to publish more information about its intentions, and about the People's Liberation Army, in order to provide more transparency, and to dispell international supicions about China's intentions.

While the Paper gave some details on the budgets, and on plans to downscale the PLA from 3 million to 2.5 million men, and the planned reductions of navy and airforce, international observers say that China hides a considertable part of its budget for military spending in budgets of other departments, agencies and operations.

According to the Paper, the defense budget is to grow 11.3 percent from US$ 9.79 billion in 1997 to US$ 10.9 billion in 1998, but international observers believe that the real budget is anywhere from three to ten times that figure.

In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin gave only a weak response to the threats made in the Chinese White Paper: he simply reiterated that the U.S. "...hopes the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will resolve their disputes or problems strictly by peaceful means."

In response to a question, he stated that the U.S. intends to continue to comply with the Taiwan Relations Act, and vaguely added that this "...requires certain steps to take place if there is a threat to the people of Taiwan. Nothing has changed from our standpoint."

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