- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

China is increasingly using its soft power to try to absorb Taiwan into the mainland, even as it builds its missile force pointed at the island, the chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party said yesterday.

Yu Shyi-kun also said the government of the Republic of China, as Taiwan is formally known, is ready to move forward on a multibillion-dollar defense package, including diesel-powered submarines, PAC-3 anti-missile systems and P-3 Orion surveillance and submarine-hunting aircraft.

Mr. Yu accused China of pressuring Taiwanese doing business in China to modify their political beliefs, and of trying to gain influence over the public media in Taiwan.

“The threat of influence of mainland China is not just military power — they have other sources,” Mr. Yu said in an interview with reporters and editors at The Washington Times.

China, he said, was conducting “legal warfare, media warfare and psychological warfare” against Taiwan, and cited as examples two Hong Kong-funded media companies that operate television stations, magazines and a newspaper in Taiwan.

“The influence from China is multilayered, so I believe all these things will influence the internal democratic and freedom system of Taiwan,” said Mr. Yu. “They will increasingly use economic power to influence a democratic Taiwan.”

TVBS satellite television in Taiwan — which has been critical of the ruling party — is part of Hong Kong-based Television Broadcasts Ltd.

The government in 2005 fined the company for breaking Taiwan’s media ownership laws, which state that media outlets must be Taiwanese majority-owned.

Television Broadcasts Ltd. also has subscribers in the United States, Europe and Australia.

The political platform of the Democratic Progressive Party — which holds the president’s office but is outnumbered in the legislature — is strongly pro-independence, although President Chen Shui-bian has softened that stance over the past six years.

Mr. Yu said he was in Washington for meetings• with officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon and Congress. He declined to describe the nature of those talks, but said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan were on the agenda.

The Bush administration approved the arms package in 2002, but movement on the sales has stalled over budget questions in the Taiwan legislature. Mr. Yu said he expected the legislature to act later this month.

“I have very high confidence that once the new session of the legislature starts September 19, that the bill will pass,” he said.

He said they would appropriate $200 million to begin the arms-purchase process, including funding to begin studies on the submarines, which are the most controversial aspect of the package. The studies would include an examination of where the submarines might be built.

Once the first funding passed, it would encourage the passage of more money over the next two years. “That is the strategy we want to use,” Mr. Yu said.

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