- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2010

Taiwan tested its readiness to repel a Chinese invasion with a computerized war game on Monday, less than three weeks after signing a historic trade agreement with the communist-run mainland.

“The purpose of the drill is … to test our defense capabilities in case the People’s Liberation Army launched an invasion,” a Defense Ministry official said, according to Agence France-Presse.

The five-day exercise simulates a Chinese attack across the Strait of Taiwan from Guangzhou and Nanjing, the military districts closest to the self-governing island.

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News of the war game coincided with a study speculating that China would deploy hundreds of new missiles aimed at Taiwan by the end of the year. It was published Monday in the Taiwanese Defense Ministry’s naval studies journal.

Monday also brought a report from the Chinese-language Liberty Times that Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou had ordered the National Defense Ministry to draw up a list of items it wished to buy from the United States, including MK-54 torpedoes and dozens of M1A2 tanks.

The Obama administration announced in January that it would sell Taipei $6.4 billion in arms - a package that includes Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot air-defense missiles and supplies for Taiwan’s aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

The arms deal prompted outrage from Chinese officials and halted a thawing in U.S.-Chinese relations, which has been one of the administration’s top foreign-policy priorities.

President Obama in November paid a four-day visit to China, where he signed a joint statement under which China and the U.S. agreed to respect each other’s “core interests.” Chinese officials have cited the phrase as an affirmation of its “One China” policy toward Taiwan.

Mr. Ma, of the Chinese-friendly Kuomintang Party, won a landslide victory over the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in May 2008. Since then, he has sought through economic means to reduce cross-strait tensions, which reached a fever pitch under his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian - now serving a 20-year sentence on graft charges.

The centerpiece of that goal, the tariff-reducing Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), was signed June 29.

Taiwan Information Minister Johnny Chiang told The Washington Times that the ECFA represents a historic opportunity to build closer cultural and economic bonds with the mainland while deferring issues regarding Taiwan’s political status.

“For the current government, we don’t have any specific plans or time schedule in terms of political agreements,” Mr. Chiang said.

“We hope that through [pacts like ECFA] and constructive dialogue, both sides can build trust and mutual understanding first and provide a solid foundation for future dialogue and also give both sides a great deal … to think about..

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