China’s military warned Taiwan yesterday not to join a cooperative missile defense with the United States and Japan.
The official military newspaper Liberation Army Daily said Chen Shui-bian, the president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), was “playing with fire” by seeking a military alliance with the two nations.
The newspaper was responding to remarks made by Mr. Chen in an interview July 16 with The Washington Times.
Mr. Chen said in the interview that the growing Chinese missile threat against Taiwan — also known as the Republic of China — shows the need for developing a joint U.S.-Japan-Taiwan missile-defense system to counter it.
“Avoiding a [People’s Republic of China] threat against Taiwan is something that the United States, Japan and Taiwan must jointly deal with in a manner of division of responsibilities and cooperation,” Mr. Chen said during the interview.
Mr. Chen said Taiwan’s defense agencies are actively studying the option of joining a joint theater missile-defense project, but have not made any final decisions.
The Taiwanese leader also called for increasing military cooperation and exchanges with the United States, while acknowledging that a military alliance would be “difficult to achieve.”
The United States broke its military alliance with Taiwan in 1979 when Washington officially recognized Beijing’s government. Communist China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province.
The Chinese military newspaper stated that a joint missile defense would be “dangerous.”
“This is a dangerous signal that Chen is moving farther away down the road of resisting reunion by means of force,” the article said.
The newspaper said Mr. Chen is turning Taiwan into “an ideal battlefield for Americans.”
China has repeatedly threatened to use force to reunite the island with the mainland.
A Beijing official “white paper” issued last year stated that China would go to war with Taiwan if it were occupied by foreign forces or declared independence.
The military newspaper said yesterday that China will not tolerate Mr. Chen “stepping further down the road of dividing the motherland.”
“The People’s Liberation Army is a great wall of iron and steel which separatism can never surpass,” the paper said. “Any attempt to interfere in China’s civil affairs by foreign forces will fail, as will any attempt to separate Taiwan from the Chinese territory.”
The newspaper’s report was carried in the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The military newspaper said the awarding of the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing had hardened China’s resolve to reunify the mainland with Taiwan.
The campaign to win the Olympics showed the world “a brand new power that breaks through brambles and thorns and makes no stop before reaching its goal,” it said.
Mr. Chen, in his interview, said the Olympics should not be awarded to a nation that uses missiles to threaten other nations.
Taiwan’s military, according to Taipei’s official Central News Agency, is open to conducting joint exercises with the U.S. military. A Taiwanese military spokesman said proposals to join regional missile defenses would be studied carefully.
China has opposed U.S. plans to provide missile defenses to Taiwan, saying it constitutes an interference in its internal affairs.
However, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. Dennis Blair, said China’s buildup of hundreds of short-range missiles opposite Taiwan justifies U.S. sales of missile defenses to the island.
Taiwan currently has deployed Patriot anti-missile batteries around Taipei and is seeking a more advanced PAC-3 version of the system.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese government conducted an air-raid drill in the northern part of the island on Wednesday that was designed to test emergency preparedness for any Chinese aerial or missile attacks.
Cars on streets stopped and people hid in shelters as an air-raid siren sounded an alarm. It was the last of seven drills known as the Wanan 24 Exercise.
Pentagon officials said any attack against Taiwan by Chinese military forces would begin with computer-based information warfare attacks, followed by massive missile and aircraft attacks.