Taiwan Communiqué No. 73, December 1996

Taiwan's China troubles

US Navy: Chinese practiced Taiwan attack

China's hostile intentions towards Taiwan are also clearly apparent from two recent reports. The first was an account on 24 October 1996 by AP-Dow Jones News Service, which indicated that Chinese troops had held war games in the Canton Military region in mid-October and had practiced "invading a well-defended island." During the war games, the "Red Army" attacked and the "Blue Army" defended. The PLA is generally referred to as the Red Army, while blue is generally associated with the Kuomintang's military forces.

The second report was a study by the US Office of Naval Intelligence, which became public in mid-November 1996. It analyzed the Chinese military exercises of February-March 1996, and concluded that they constituted a series of full-dress rehearsals for a possible future all-out invasion of Taiwan. Key parts of the Navy's study were published by Defense Weekly magazine in its November 12th 1996 issue.

The report stated that the operation was code-named Strait 961, and was carried out in three separately announced rounds, involving combined-force operations and missile firings to a target area less than 35 miles from Taiwan. The Navy report concluded that the war games were part of a unified invasion plan, and not a series of distinct exercises as Beijing tried to suggest.

French plans for aircraft carrier sale ?

The 10 October 1996 issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review published an article indicating that France is planning to sell an aircraft carrier to China, in spite of a European Union embargo on arms sales to China.

The ship in question is the Clemenceau, which is scheduled for decommissioning next year. The ship can carry up to 30 combat aircraft.

The issue came up during the September 1996 visit to France of a high-level Chinese military delegation led by admiral Liu Huaqing, China's military chief and father of the Chinese navy.

China has long been shopping for an aircraft carrier, and was earlier considering purchasing S/VTOL carriers from the Ukraine and Spain.

Interestingly, the FEER article reports that the French military is not supportive of the sale. A French defense source was quoted as saying: "To sell China the Clemenceau will send a very bad signal. China, after all is a totalitarian country, and has shown itself to be very aggressive towards a democratic Taiwan."

Taiwan Communiqué comment: It would indeed be a wrong move for France to even consider the sale of the aircraft carrier to China. It would tell the Chinese authorities that they can repress their own people and threaten other nations around them, such as Tibet and Taiwan, without any effect on its international standing.

It would also be detrimental to stability in East Asia and set off a scramble by South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and even Vietnam to find military ways to counter the extended Chinese influence across the international waterways along the Western Pacific Rim.

Turbulence for planemakers in China

New York Times: MDD Aircraft deal questioned

The 30 October 1996 issue of the New York Times carried an extensive investigative article, which examined the illegal diversion of McDonnell Douglas machinery by CATIC, China's state-run airplane manufacturing company to a military plant near Shanghai manufacturing Silkworm missiles. The article reported that the US Commerce Department had referred the issue to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.

The case involved the shipment of some US$5 million worth of machinery from a plant in Columbus, Ohio which were originally designated to a Beijing plant, where they were supposed to be used in the production of the joint CATIC-McDonnell Douglas project to build the Trunkliner, a 140-160 seat civilian airliner.

McDonnell Douglas agreed to ship the equipment after China pressured the US hard to transfer the tools, otherwise the Chinese threatened the whole Trunkliner deal would be canceled. US officials now term the Chinese approach "forced technology transfer."

However, in March-April 1995 several key pieces of equipment, including a "stretch press" that is used to manufacture the skin of an aircraft, turns up in a military facility in Nanchang, near Shanghai. One of the pieces of equipment was set up in a newly-constructed building that produces Silkworm cruise missiles.

GAO: violation of export control laws

On 21 November 1996, the General Accounting Office in Washington DC published a report indicating that the case raises questions about the ability of the Commerce Department to control so-called dual use exports equipment that can be used for both commercial and military purposes.

The GAO report stated that in 1994 the Commerce Department approved an export license for the sale of the equipment in spite of warnings by the US Department of Defense that the equipment could be diverted for military use. The GAO report also raises questions about whether MDD failed to inform the Commerce Department fully about the sale of the equipment.

Review: Boeing's China troubles

At least McDonnell Douglas isn't the only airplane manufacturer in trouble with its China sales: the Hong Kong based Far Eastern Economic Review reported in its 14 November 1996 issue that Boeing is also having problems with its China sales.

The Boeing company in Seattle has long been aiming at the Chinese market, thinking it to be the ideal place to sell endless numbers of aircraft. However, like in the MDD case, the Chinese authorities have used Boeing to play their sinister political games, using the company to exert pressure on Washington on issues ranging from Taiwan relations to Most Favored nation status.

Boeing's apologist approach in favor of the Chinese led Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to exclaim that "...by such comments, Boeing is disassociating itself from the values that America holds dear."

Taiwan Communiqué comment: Any Western nation selling technology or anything else for that matter to China must realize that it is going to be used by the Chinese authorities in political manipulations. Either local authorities will attempt to gain large personal profits through their corrupt practices, or the national authorities will attempt to use the deals to gain further leverage in gaining access to military technology (as in the case of MDD) or to "punish" any nation which improves its ties with Taiwan.

Trade and commerce need to take place on a level playing field, whereby all players play by the same rules. Chinese authorities still seem to feel that only others need to play by China's rules, while they themselves can bend the rules whenever they wish. Many Western governments and companies in particular McDonnell Douglas, Boeing and Airbus need to wake up and stop being gullible about these issues.

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