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Inside China: PLA on Taiwan’s weapons

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A People's Liberation Army major general said recently that Taiwan should abandon the U.S. as its main weapons supplier and buy arms from Beijing instead.

Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan, China's most outspoken anti-U.S. military official, made the remarks at a defense forum in the city of Guangzhou that was attended by defense analysts from China and Taiwan.

Taiwan is the primary target of China's short-range ballistic missiles, deployed 100 miles from Taiwan's west coast. China has never given up the option to "liberate" or "reunite" Taiwan by force.

For decades, the U.S. has been Taiwan's major weapons supplier, mainly through the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which calls for guarantees that Taiwan's defenses match Chinese offensive capabilities.

However, Beijing has protested weapons sales to Taiwan, and successive U.S. administrations have limited arms transfers to the island democracy.

Gen. Luo failed to mention what country Taiwan would target with Chinese-made weapons.

The implicit message seems to suggest that Taiwan should use Chinese-made weapons to fight Japan or the Philippines, which are disputing, along with China and Taiwan, ownership of a few tiny islands in the East Sea/Sea of Japan and the South China Sea.

VICE PRESIDENT IN PYONGYANG

Vice President Li Yuanchao, the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea since Kim Jong-un assumed power, led a large delegation to Pyongyang to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War.

Mr. Li, a member of the Communist Party's Politburo, is believed to be a protege of President Xi Jinping. He carried with him a special message to Mr. Kim that stressed the "unbreakable friendship and camaraderie forged by our older generation of revolutionary leaders." China sent more than 1 million soldiers into the Korean War.

Mr. Li was the most prominent foreign comrade to appear in photos alongside the internationally isolated Mr. Kim on the reviewing stand during a military parade in the North Korean capital.

China and North Korea have encountered a few troubled moments recently because of Mr. Kim's banned missile and nuclear tests.

China warned North Korea not to proceed with its most recent nuclear test and later joined the U.N. Security Council in condemning February's underground test blast.

The visit by Mr. Li's delegation was widely seen as an effort to temporarily mollify North Korea's leader. It also appeared to send a signal to the world that, no matter how Pyongyang behaves, the bond between the two communist nations remains strong.

JAPAN'S PATROL SHIP GIFTS

Chinese state-run media reacted harshly to Japan's recent move to sell coastal patrol ships to the Philippines, calling the arms transfer an insidious clown act by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in what reports said is a futile effort to "contain" China.

Mr. Abe announced Saturday in Singapore that Tokyo would help build up Manila's capability for coastal surveillance and defense by providing 10 patrol vessels to the Philippine coast guard. The transaction was made in the form of a Japanese loan for buying the 10 vessels.

In announcing the deal, Mr. Abe and Mr. Aquino vowed to resist China's aggressive demands on maritime territories. Manila has submitted an appeal to a U.N. court against China's claim, and Mr. Abe expressed support for Manila's move.

Miles Yu's column appears Fridays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com and @yu_miles.

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