2010/09/01

China intensifies military build-up against Taiwan: reports

TAIPEI, September  1, 2010 (AFP) - China is ramping-up its military presence facing Taiwan despite the easing of hostilities across the Strait, a defence ministry report cited by local media warned Wednesday.

"Although the cross-Strait ties have improved significantly in recent years, the Chinese communists' military have not slowed at all their pace of build-up aimed at Taiwan," the United Daily News said, citing the ministry report.

In a report to the US Congress last month, the Pentagon also warned that China's military build-up against the island has "continued unabated" despite improving political relations across the Taiwan Strait.

China's military spending for 2010 rose 7.5 percent on last year, in spite of the global economic downturn, said the Taiwan report which was sent to parliament last week.

Looking ahead, the defence report said Beijing may offer concessions to Taipei on minor issues but will not budge on the decades-old dispute over the island's sovereignty.

Ties between Taiwan and the mainland have improved markedly since 2008 when Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party came to power.

But despite the fast warming ties, Beijing still refuses to renounce the use of force against the island, saying it was aimed at preventing the independence movement gathering ground on the island.

The People's Liberation Army may also attack the island "should the military tip the balance seriously towards Beijing," the defence report was quoted as saying.

It also cautioned of the likelihood of Chinese military action should Taipei push for a referendum on independence, or if it amends the constitution in favour of independence.

Last month's Pentagon report said China is investing in nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyber warfare.

"The balance of cross-Strait military forces continues to shift in the mainland's favor," the report said.

Beijing still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification -- by force if necessary -- even though the island has ruled itself since 1949 at the end of a civil war.