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Arms aid is a fit tribute to Reagan
Paul Lin

The Pentagon's Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China which was recently presented to Congress, noted that the possibility has been raised in some quarters that as a counter-threat against Chinese aggression, Taiwan could consider targeting densely populated cities or high-value infrastructure projects such as the Three Gorges Dam. Beijing responded violently to the suggestion, and according to a source close to the People's Liberation Army (PLA), quoted by the Straits Times of Singapore, the PLA countered that it not only had more than adequate resources to protect the Three Gorges Dam, but also that it had the capacity to target major dams in the US.

This shows the same attitude as Deputy Chief of the General Staff Xiong Guangkai's statement in 1995, in which he threatened to launch nuclear missiles at Los Angeles if the US came to the defense of Taiwan. The Global Times, a newspaper under the umbrella of the People's Daily, has
also quoted military sources as saying that if Taiwan launched a bombing raid against the Three Gorges Dam, the PLA would respond with sufficient force to "annihilate" Taiwan.

Even before this, a so-called military scholar, Xin Qi, had spoken of "wiping out" Taiwan in a statement made in April 2000, a clear indication that China's vicious ambition to obliterate Taiwan predates and is not related to the suggestion of targeting the Three Gorges Dam.

The reason the Chinese leadership dares make continual military threats is that Taiwan is seen as unable to strike back. For this reason, they are willing to boast that they will pay any price in human lives or economic loss to achieve their goal of unification.

If Taiwan had medium-range missiles that could threaten the Zhongnanhai compound in Beijing or Yuquanshan, the headquarters of the Central Military Commission, threatening the lives of the warmongers without endangering innocent civilians, then they would not be so bold as to make their crazy threats.

The Chinese leadership is afraid of the US because it has missiles that have pinpoint accuracy and are able to penetrate underground bunkers. The Gulf War and the accidental 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade
have taught former president Jiang Zemin to fear American might. The Chinese leaders dare not act directly against Taiwan but instead try to disrupt Taiwan-US relations. China has also supplied weapons to Pakistan, including nuclear weapon technology, as a means of hemming in India, a country rather similar to China in some ways and a competitor in terms of economic and population growth. China even went to war with India in the early 1960s.

In January 2002, India successfully tested the Agni medium-range ballistic missile. It has a range of 2,500km, which could hit targets anywhere in Pakistan and in large areas of China. India is currently developing the Agni long-range ballistic missile, which would be able to target the densely populated cities of eastern and northeastern China. In January 2001, Vasudev Aatre, the scientific advisor to India's defense minister, pointed out that the new missile would be tested later that year. It was no secret that this missile was being developed as a deterrent to China.

The chairman of the Central Military Commission, Jiang Zemin, met with George Fernandes, India's Minister of Defense, who had been accused by the Chinese of being a "China baiter." Jiang said that China and India were two of the world's largest developing economies and were also neighbors, adding that China was willing to live in harmony with India on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence with both countries respecting and trusting each other. This is simply an example of the despicable behavior of a hooligan nation, which bullies the weak and fears the strong.

Taiwan's nuclear development program was stopped by the US. Now that China's military capability is surging ahead, it is the responsibility of the US to protect Taiwan, not only through the sale of weapons, but also through support in such research and development. If Taiwan had missiles that could hit locations where China's leaders live, then the potential for conflict in the Taiwan Strait would be greatly reduced, and the chance of the US becoming embroiled in such a conflict would also be reduced.

Once Taiwan has acquired these missiles, it could make a statement rejecting their preemptive use, but retaining the right to use them in retaliation. This was the attitude China adopted when it began its nuclear program,
After World War II, the military blocs of the East and West avoided nuclear devastation by creating a "balance of terror." In 1962, then president John Kennedy successfully resisted the threat of Soviet missile deployment in Cuba. The current cross-strait crisis also needs such mighty means and US boldness to achieve a resolution. Such a move would be the greatest possible memorial to all the late president Ronald Reagan sought to achieve.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

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