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PROS, CONS EXCHANGED IN DEBATE ON PURCHASE OF ANTI-MISSILE EQUIPMENT

2004-03-10 21:54:06

    Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Two debaters expressed their pros and cons in a televised debate Wednesday over the question of Taiwan's anti-missile military procurement, one of the two questions to be raised in a referendum planned for March 20 to coincide with the presidential election.

    You Ching, a lawmaker and veteran member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party who represented the affirmative side, said that Taiwan should further step up its defensive capabilities to counter the increased missile threats from mainland China.

    In the face of continued missile threat from the mainland, Taiwan has to purchase more anti-missile equipment and a "yes" vote on the referendum question will help underscore to the world the resolve of the people of Taiwan to safeguard the country, and will be heard particularly by mainland China and the United States.

    Despite the fact that it is commonly hoped that disputes between Taiwan and mainland China should be settled peacefully, You urged the public to cast a "yes" vote on the referendum question should the mainland continue refusing to renounce the use of force against Taiwan and not remove its missiles aimed at the island.

    Stressing that the Chinese Communists have been relentlessly building up their military, You pointed out that the number of missiles deployed by Beijing targeting Taiwan will increase from the current level of 496 missiles to 600 next year.

    In addition to developing an anti-missile system, You contended that the people in Taiwan should also build their own psychological firewall to confront the mainland faced with such a difficult situation.

    Claiming that Taiwan is incapable of developing its own defensive weapons like the United States or Russia, You said purchasing more effective anti-missile facilities is a necessary and priority option for the country to safeguard its own security in view of continued military intimidation from mainland China, unless Taiwan is willing to kowtow to Beijing.

    Apart from a prosperous economy, a strong national defense will also be one useful and last bargaining chip for Taiwan at the negotiating table, he claimed.

    On the other side, Kao Cheng-yen, a professor at National Taiwan University and a long-time environmental protection activist of the Green Party who represented the negative side, pointed out that the top priority now is to seek ways to dilute mainland China's hostilities toward Taiwan. "Only when there is genuine democracy or opposition parties are lawful in the mainland will it be possible for the Beijing regime to forswear its military threats against Taiwan, " Kao argued and added that, "Taiwan must not skip its role in mainland China's democratization."

    Kao said he is strongly opposed to Taiwan's increased spending in military weapons and that he favors the idea of developing indigenous deterrent arms if the nation has to beef up its own defense capabilities.

    The Green Party has long been keen to make Taiwan into a neutral and nuclear-free homeland and is supportive of using the money for weapons to build a green and peaceful homeland in Taiwan where sustainable progress and development can be secured, he said.

    The You-Kao debate is the fourth round of five encounters between the supporters and opponents of the question to be included in Taiwan's first nationwide referendum.

(By Flor Wang)

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