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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

PLA PONDERING TAIWAN INVASION OPTION: U.S. PUNDIT

2004-02-29 19:00:17

    Taipei, Feb. 29 (CNA) A U.S. scholar of national defense affairs said in Taipei Sunday that he has learned that the mainland Chinese military has been pondering a sweeping attack on Taiwan.

    Andrew Scobell, an associate research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of U.S. Army War College, said at an international symposium on Taiwan's national defense that while he has considered a conventional and sweeping invasion of Taiwan by mainland forces impossible over the past years, he has since the beginning of 2004 not excluded the possibility of Beijing taking this option.

    Scobell, author of China's Use of Military Force: Beyond the Great Wall and the Long March, said that he is positive that the mainland's People's Liberation Army has been mulling, planning and exercising this Taiwan attack scenario.

    In view of this scenario, Scobell suggested that Taiwan beef up its counter-attack capabilities by strengthening its air and sea combat tactics and giving top priority to upgrading its anti-submarine and anti-torpedo capabilities.

    Strategically, he said, the best way to smash a PLA attempt to invade Taiwan is to demonstrate strength and determination without being provocative.

    He said the Taiwan leaders should continue to stress that if the PLA launches a military attack against Taiwan, it will be time for Taiwan to announce independence. This in turn would serve as a message to Beijing that early prevention of growing hostility across the Taiwan Strait would be the only option for mainland China to prevent Taiwan from announcing independence -- the last scenario that Beijing would like to see, he added.

    In his theory titled "Coercion or Capture" presented during the symposium, Scobell said that the Beijing leadership has adopted an optimistic attitude toward cross-strait relations in the past. But the Beijing leaders have been forced to re-evaluate the situation, as Taiwan's politics have changed drastically in recent years, he said.

    For most analysts and experts in Chinese affairs, Scobell said, the Beijing leaders still tend to adopt a "coercion" policy toward Taiwan rather than the "capture" option.

    The problem is, he pointed out, that there is only a very thin grey line between "coercion" and "capture, " given that the PLA's action of coercion might develop into a real invasion operation, while an invasion operation might turn out only to be a drill.

(By Deborah Kuo)

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