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China to attack Taiwan by 2008
Debby Wu (Taipei Times)

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The US Department of Defense believes China might attack Taiwan in 2006 or 2008, Vice Minister of National Defense Tsai Ming-hsien said yesterday.

"The US has solid intelligence on China and China is likely to have a better air force and navy than Taiwan after 2006, so the US made such a judgment," he said.

Tsai made the statement when asked about China's military threat during a question and answer session at the legislature's National Defense Committee.

"If China provokes us and makes the first move to attack Taiwan, our military will certainly strike back. Our targets will include Chinese military facilities and the sources of the attack. The Three Gorges Dam, however, will not be a target," Tsai said.

The emphasis on the Three Gorges Dam came after details of the US Department of Defense's annual report to Congress on China's military power were released.

The report said that, should Taiwan come under attack, "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."

Tsai denied that the US Department of Defense had highlighted the Three Gorges Dam as a possible target, saying it was reported only in a US military magazine.

Local media reports also stated that Minister of National Defense Lee Jye said two days ago that Taiwan was capable of retaliating against targets in China, including the Three Gorges Dam.

Lee reportedly made the statement while discussing NT$610 billion-worth of arms purchases with legislators. Lee's remark was relayed by a legislator who was at the meeting.

The Ministry of National Defense issued a statement yesterday denying that Lee specifically highlighted the Three Gorges Dam as a target.

It was also reported yesterday that Lee said he would resign if the legislature refused to grant the budget for the purchase of diesel-powered submarines, worth more than NT$400 billion.

Opposition legislators dismissed the threat to resign as a political stunt.

"Minister Lee Jye said he would resign if the legislature doesn't grant the budget," said People First Party Legislator Chin Huei-chu, a convener of the National Defense Committee. "It is easy to see that talk about a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan is an attempt to push the budget through."

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung defended the US report.

"The US Department of Defense is not dealing with politics, but military affairs," Lee said. "The US reckons that the military balance between Taiwan and China will be tipped between 2005 and 2010. Taiwan will lose its advantage and that may tempt China into starting a war."

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