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White Paper: Strong army ensures China unity
By Hu Xiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-27 23:55

Beijing's latest white paper on defence includes its strongest warning yet to Taiwan separatist forces.

It is a "very strong" warning to Taiwan independence forces, said leading experts from the Chinese People's Liberation Army think-tank. [see full text of the white paper ]

The Beijing-based experts said the paper has described cross-Straits relations as the grimmest since 2000.

"The 2004 defence white paper gives prominence to the grim situation of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits which is the biggest threat to the peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region," said Chen Zhou, a senior fellow with Academy of Military Science of the People's Liberation Army (AMSPLA) told China Daily.

The Information Office of the State Council Monday issued a white paper on national defence, the fifth since 1995.

In these policy papers, China has focused on sensitive issues, such as its defence policy, budget and military exercises.

The new white paper lists four factors as having a major impact on China's security.

A file photo of 2002 shows a test launch of missiles by the PLA Navy's Beihai Fleet. [newsphoto/file]
They are the rise of the "Taiwan independence" forces, the technological gap resulting from changes in military affairs, the risks and challenges brought about by the development of the globalization trends, and the prolonged existence of both unipolarity and multipolarity.

Many observers who delved into cross-Straits ties, believed that although the 2000 white paper also called the situation "grim," in the 2004 paper, the point is expressed more clearly.

"Should the Taiwan authorities go so far as to make a reckless attempt that constitutes a major incident of 'Taiwan independence,' the Chinese people and armed forces will resolutely and thoroughly crush it at any cost," says the white paper.

"This implies a very strong warning to the 'Taiwan independence' since 2000, and meanwhile it also spells out our army's task of military preparation," said Chen, who participated in drafting the paper.

The paper came as the top legislators began to discuss the anti-secession law which is expected to define activities of the formal declaration of independence by Taipei and what measures Beijing would take to stop attempts to separate Taiwan from China.

Deng Hongzhou, another writer of the paper, pointed out that the paper further underlines the mainland's sincere intention to pursue peaceful reunification.

So long as the Taiwan authorities accept the one-China principle and stop their separatist activities aimed at "Taiwan independence," cross-Straits talks can be held at any time to end the state of hostility between the two sides, including on the establishment of a confidence-building mechanism in the military field.

"The proposed mutual confidence-building in the military field clearly reflects the mainland's sincerity to improve relations between the two sides across the Straits," Deng said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

New security concept

China reiterated its new security concept in the white paper, focusing on mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and co-ordination.

The new security concept highlights a win-win thought, said Yuan Zhengling, a senior research fellow with the academy.

"China, during recent years, actively sought to settle border disputes with neighbouring countries through peace talks and advocate or participate in regional security co-operative mechanisms in various forms," he said.

The increasing participation of China in drills in non-traditional fields demonstrates China's willingness and determination to build mutual military confidence with others, said Deng, adding that it also reveals the progressive transparency of China's defence which benefit the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Deng pointed out that during the past two years, most of the joint drills China has participated in were advocated by China, such as exercises in joint counter-terrorism, maritime search and rescue, combating piracy, and cracking down on drug production and trafficking.

Increases on defence budget

"The increased part of the defence budget since the 1990s is mainly... to compensate for fund shortages in the military," said Deng.

He was referring to expenditures connected to higher salaries for military personnel, improving the social insurance system for servicemen and supporting the structural and moderate reforms of the military.

"Facts show that at the initial period of reform, the expenditures always rises," he added.

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