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PLA general: Attempt to destroy dam doomed
Updated: 2004-06-16 15:54

A Chinese People's Liberation Army general denounced a US suggestion that Taiwan's military target the Three Gorges dam and said on Wednesday that any attempt to strike the world's biggest hydropower project would be doomed.

In its annual report to Congress on China's military power, the Pentagon suggested in May that Taiwan target the dam as a deterrent against any strike on the island from the mainland.

China will "be seriously on guard against threats from 'Taiwan independence terrorists,"' PLA Lieutenant General Liu Yuan said in a commentary in China Youth Daily, warning against such a move.

"(It) will not be able to stop war...it will have the exact opposite of the desired effect," Liu said.

"It will provoke retaliation that will 'blot out the sky and cover up the earth'," he said, quoting a Chinese idiom.

The warning came as Taiwan's "defense authorities" said it had test fired two Patriot anti-missile missiles to showcase its air defense capability.

The test was part of a routine drill and was conducted at a military base in southern Taiwan, the authorities said, but did not say when the test was held or give any other details.

Liu asserted that no country had conventional warhead missiles capable of critically damaging the dam -- made of concrete with a maximum thickness of more than 100 meters.


"The Three Gorges Dam will not collapse and cannot be destroyed," he said.

Seismologists have said the dam is designed to withstand an earthquake measuring 10 on the Richter scale.

The dam was first proposed decades ago, but construction finally began in 1993. China is confident that it can defend it.

But the Pentagon report stirred controversy in China.

"Since Taipei cannot match Beijing's ability to field offensive systems, proponents of strikes against the mainland apparently hope that merely presenting credible threats to China's urban population or high-value targets, such as the Three Gorges Dam, will deter Chinese military coercion," it said.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said last week the report was "Cold War mentality harbouring evil intentions."

Tensions have simmered since Taiwan's March "presidential" polls, which incumbent Chen Shui-bian won by a razor-thin margin after a mysterious election eve assassination attempt.

Chen has been attempting to push for "independence" around 2008. Chinese officials have vowed to pay any price to stop his splittist move. As Premier Wen Jiabao has put it, "we treasure Taiwan more dearly than our lives."

Liu, the general, called the Pentagon suggestion "petty psychological war."

He likened Washington to "a prostitute pretending to be a gentleman" and no better than Osama bin Laden, whose al Qaeda group has been blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

The Three Gorges Dam, also the world's largest flood control project, is due to be completed in 2009 at a cost of nearly $25 billion. With total capacity of 18,200 megawatts, it will generate 84.6 billion kwh of electricity a year.

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