Possibility for cross-strait conflicts lower: U.S. commander
ROC Central News Agency
Washington, March 2 (CNA) Adm. Robert F. Willard, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said on Friday that the possibility of conflicts erupting between Taiwan and China has dropped and that this trend will likely continue, especially after President Ma Ying-jeou was recently reelected.
"We have witnessed improved relationships between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan and we anticipate that will continue with President Ma's reelection. And we are encouraged by that frankly," Willard said.
Willard, however, noted that China has continued its military buildup. He said that in general, the military balance across the Taiwan Strait continues to shift in China's favor.
He pointed out that China has never moved to cut down its military deployments over the past years. Willard specified the deployments to include an integrated air defense system, ballistic missiles, and weapons with port-and-airport-attacking capabilities.
"There is very impressive combat power across the Strait on mainland China," Willard said. "It's been there a long time, now several years, and it has not diminished. They continue to improve the capabilities, so in terms of a balance of power, it's generally one-sided."
Willard was answering questions on a U.S. national defense budget proposal at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
In spite of the military buildup in the Taiwan Strait, there have been increased interaction between the two sides, Willard said. In this regard, he believes the chances for the two to clash with each other have been reduced, the admiral said.
"As they improve their relationship economically and diplomatically, we think it should lower the likelihood of coercion or conflict taking place," said Willard.
Noting China's hopes of playing an influential role in global security, Willard said it is necessary for the United States to deploy a substantial portion of its submarines in Asia now that the number of Chinese submarines and their activities have been observed to continue to increase.
(By Tony Liao and Elizabeth Hsu)
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