LIFTING ARMS BAN AN ENCOURAGEMENT FOR BEIJING TO ATTACK TAIWAN: CHEN
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, March 10 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Thursday that if the European Union lifts its ban on arms sales to China, the move will be tantamount to encouraging a non-democratic, non-peaceful country to use force against democratic Taiwan.
Chen made the remarks while meeting with a delegation from the U.S.-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a private think tank.
Noting that the European Union imposed the arms ban against China after the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, where Chinese troops were mobilized to crush a massive pro-democracy demonstration, in an attempt to pressure Beijing to improve its human rights situation, stem arms proliferation and retain the military balance in the Taiwan Strait, Chen said China has since done little to meet the E.U.'s demands. "Since the reasons that the E.U. arms embargo was imposed in the first place remain as before, I don't see any legitimate reason justifying lifting the ban," Chen said.
Over the past 16 years, Chen went on, China's annual defense budget has been growing at an average rate of 12 percent. "Worse still, Beijing has never renounced the option of using force against Taiwan and has deployed more than 700 ballistic missiles along its southeastern coast aimed at Taiwan, " Chen said, adding that this poses a grave threat to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and Asia-Pacific regional peace and stability.
If the E.U. goes ahead and lifts the arms embargo against China, Chen said it will be tantamount to encouraging and supporting an undemocratic, non-peaceful country to use force against Taiwan -- one of the most vibrant democracies in Asia.
Chen further said the joint statement issued at the end of a recent U.S.-Japan security meeting for the first time included the Taiwan Strait issue as one of the two countries' common strategic objectives.
In their joint statement, the United States and Japan also encouraged the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to talk and resolve bilateral disputes peacefully. "It is extremely regrettable that Beijing's proposed 'anti-secession' legislation runs completely against this common strategic goal of maintaining regional peace and stability, " Chen said.
While the United States and Japan have called for peaceful solutions to cross-strait issues through dialogue, Chen said Beijing's new legislation authorizes the use of "non-peaceful means" to resolve cross-strait disputes.
During his recent Europe visit, Chen said, U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his concern about the E.U. plan to lift its arms sales ban against China because it could upset the cross-strait military balance.
The U.S. government, Congress and think tanks have also expressed grave concern about Beijing's proposed 'anti-secession' legislation, Chen said, adding that he is very grateful for the support from the U.S. for Taiwan's cause.
Chen also reiterated that Taiwan will consistently serve as a defender of the world order and guardian of democracy. "Democracy and peace are universal values, and peace cannot be achieved without democracy," he added.
(By Sofia Wu)
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