Taiwan: Pentagon Official Voices China-Taiwan Concerns
China may be preparing to deal with its dispute over Taiwan through other than political means as it increases its offensive military power, a top Pentagon official said on Wednesday.
"They continue to increase their offensive systems," said Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy told reporters. "It looks like they are preparing for something other than a political solution to the Taiwan problem. And we find that disconcerting."
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war brought the communists to power on the mainland. Since then, Beijing has used a blend of diplomacy and threats to try to bring the self-governing island back to the fold. It has vowed to attack if Taiwan formally declares statehood.
Henry did not describe any specific Chinese moves, and a Pentagon spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for elaboration.
Henry's remarks followed publication of a Pentagon long-range strategy last week which called China the rising power with the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States. The strategy calls for new long-range weapons and a greater U.S. Navy presence in the Pacific.
China, which regards Taiwan as a rogue province, is estimated to have deployed 700 or more short-range ballistic missiles across the 100-mile Taiwan Strait.
Beijing could use its weapons to try to decapitate Taiwan's military and political leadership and break its will before the United States or other nations could intervene, the Pentagon said in another document, the 2005 edition of its annual report to Congress on China's military power.
The United States is eager to head off a showdown with China over Taiwan. President Bush vowed in April 2000 to do whatever it took to help the island defend itself if attacked. Since then, his administration has pressed Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian to avoid provoking Beijing.
Earlier on Wednesday in Beijing, China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office condemned a plan floated by Chen last month to scrap 15-year-old guidelines on unification designed to reduce the risk of provoking conflict with China.
"This demonstrates once again that he is a troublemaker and saboteur of cross-Strait relations and peace and stability in Asia, Li Weiyi, spokesman for the body, told a news conference without mentioning Chen by name.
Henry, who spoke a breakfast session with reporters, said the United States was seeking greater openness from China's military because "it's difficult to know exactly what they're doing."