China Plans Major Wargames in Taiwan Strait


2004.07.04
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HONG KONG — ; China will carry out large-scale joint military exercises on its coastline opposite Taiwan this summer to prepare its army, navy, and air force for a forced landing on the self-governing island, which Beijing has threatened to invade should it declare itself independent, RFA reports.

The amphibious landing exercises are planned for July on Dongshan Island in the southeastern province of Fujian, just 150 nautical miles from the Taiwan-controlled island of Penghu, the official Communist Party People's Daily said on its Web site Sunday.

"The upcoming exercises will be a military demonstration implying a considerable degree of 'initiative' and 'offense,' and it is one of the stratagems by which to apply military pressure against Taiwan," the paper quoted unnamed military experts as saying.

"It also shows that our Army is becoming increasingly aware that 'air superiority' is the paramount ideology in modern warfare, and that the PLA is emphasizing the development of its air forces," it said.

The exercises will focus on methods of gaining air supremacy over Taiwan, the paper said, which is equipped with F-16, Mirage 2000-5, Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF), and F-5 fighters. The mainland's air force has Su-27, Su-30, Jian-10, Jian-8 II, and modified Jian-7 aircraft.

Although mainland China possesses a much greater total number of fighter aircraft, the two sides are basically equal in terms of the number and quality of their third-generation fighter planes, Hong Kong's Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po said of the exercises. "One cannot say that the mainland has gained absolute air supremacy," it said.

Practically all the advanced weaponry China possesses will be put in use in the military exercises, including Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets purchased from Russia, the People's Daily said.

"This exercise will be aimed at sending a substantial warning to 'Taiwan separatists.'" Nuclear-powered submarines, warships, the latest model missile destroyers, and a guided missile brigade would also be involved in the exercises. "It's not a preventive military maneuver against Taiwan independence as they were in the past," the report said.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, and routinely carries out military maneuvers as a form of saber rattling against the island. It recently warned Taiwan President Chen Shuibian that he was walking "a dangerous road" towards independence as a sovereign state.

But military analysts said the exercises were not large enough to signify an escalation of tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

The island has been governed separately from China since the end of a civil war between the Nationalist Kuomintang and Mao Zedong's Communists in 1949.

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