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China continues arms build-up despite warming ties with Taiwan:U.S.

Central News Agency

2010/01/14 14:30:00

Washington, Jan. 13 (CNA) Although Taiwan's relations with China have improved, China has continued its military build-up against the island, which raises doubts about whether China really wants to adopt peaceful means to resolve cross-Taiwan Strait issues, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Since Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008, Taiwan and China have reached several agreements on direct flights, tourism, and economic and trade cooperation, the officials reported to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

The U.S. administration is happy to see this development because it helps reduce tension between the two sides and is good for peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, said David Shear, the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

However, despite the easing of tensions across the strait, China has continued its military build-up, Shear added.

Therefore, the U.S. will closely watch China's arms build-up in terms of both quality and quantity to fulfill the U.S.' commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with arms necessary for its self-defense, according to Shear.

The U.S.' focus of attention is on the speed and scope of China's military modernization, the lack of transparency in the process of its modernization, and the transformation of the People's Liberation Army from a military force restricted to national defense to a mobile, high-tech one capable of mounting operations beyond its borders, said Wallace Gregson, an assistant secretary of defense.

China's military expansion and modernization against Taiwan includes the addition of a great number of missiles and strengthening of warfare capability in the air, on the ground and at sea, Gregson said during the hearing on China and recent security developments.

As to whether U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will draw China's ire, Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said that in the past, China has several times expressed opposition and has once suspended military exchanges over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, but it is not clear whether the U.S. new arms sales will trigger similar responses.

(By Zep Hu and Y.L. Kao) ENDITEM /pc



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