The Chinese government announced Tuesday that the nation faces important threats in the form of independence movements related to Taiwan, Tibet and the western desert region of Xinjiang, and that American arms sales to Taiwan continue to jeopardize stability in Asia.
By Edward Wong
The New York Times
The announcement came in a white paper on national defense released Tuesday by the State Council, the Chinese equivalent of a cabinet. The paper said that “China’s security situation has improved steadily,” but that “being in a stage of economic and social transition, China is encountering many new circumstances and new issues in maintaining social stability.”
The 105-page paper, which includes tables on defense expenditures and other statistics, sought to portray China as a nation whose military power is to be used only for defense, and one that sees maintaining its territorial integrity as the top priority of national defense.
According to goals implied in the paper, China also seeks to act as a counterbalance to the American military presence in Asia. Several times in the first part of the paper, the authors pointed out worrisome aspects of American intervention in the region.
“The U.S. has increased its strategic attention to and input in the Asia-Pacific region, further consolidating its military alliances, adjusting its military deployment and enhancing its military capabilities,” the paper said.
Certain destabilizing factors outside China are growing, the paper added, singling out the fact that “the United States continues to sell arms to Taiwan,” which leads to “serious harm to Sino-U.S. relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.”
Last October, the Pentagon announced it was selling $6.5 billion of weaponry to Taiwan despite vehement protests from Beijing. The package included 30 Apache attack helicopters, 330 Patriot missiles and 32 Harpoon missiles that can be launched from submarines. The sale had been delayed for murky political reasons. The Taiwan Relations Act, passed in 1979, says the U.S. must provide arms of a defensive nature to Taiwan and act to protect Taiwan from any hostilities.
Above: Missile Destroyer Haikou 171 of the PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet. She departed with two other Chinese warships on a mission to the Gulf of Aden near Somali on anti-pirate patrol on Friday. Many in the West see this as a sign of renewed cooperation between China and other military powers.
In presenting the white paper on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said he hoped the administration of Barack Obama would build stronger military relations between the United States and China.
“At present, when China-U.S. military-to-military relations are faced with difficulties, we call on the U.S. Department of Defense to remove obstacles,” the spokesman, Sr. Col. Hu Changming, said at a news conference.
Taiwan remains the biggest source of potential military conflict between the two nations.
Although Taiwan enjoys de facto independence and is a thriving democracy, the Chinese government has long maintained that it will reunite Taiwan with the mainland, by force if necessary. Under Taiwan’s previous president, Chen Shui-bian, relations with the mainland grew extremely tense because Mr. Chen’s policies moved Taiwan closer to formal independence, prompting bellicose reactions from Beijing and Washington, which wants to avoid becoming involved in a war between China and Taiwan.
But following the election in Taiwan last year of Ma Ying-jeou, a member of the Kuomintang Party that fled the Communist takeover of China in 1949, the Taiwanese government has taken a more conciliatory approach toward the mainland. Mr. Chen was recently arrested on corruption charges.
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