Houston Community News >> China Naval Move Worries Taiwan

1/25/2008 (Daily Yomiuri Online)-- Taiwan's vice defense minister, Ko Chen-heng, expressed concern about China's recent expansion of submarine operations around Taiwan, a move that he said indicates China's apparent intention to make the strait an "internal sea of China." During a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, he also said China has been extending its maritime operations into the Pacific Ocean southeast of Taiwan. Ko stressed the need for Taiwan to deploy its self-developed cruise missiles to counter Chinese missiles. The following are excerpts from the interview.

The Yomiuri Shimbun: What has the Chinese Navy been doing recently?

Ko Chen-heng: Chinese warships sailed across what China conceives as the "first defense line" [running from off Japan through Taiwan to Singapore] once or twice a year in the latter half of 1990s. But the frequency has increased to five or six times in the past year or two. This indicates China's political intention to demonstrate that the Taiwan Strait is an "internal sea of China."

Chinese submarines have been expanding the area of their operations into the high seas, increasing their activities off the eastern and southern parts of Taiwan. They are expected to increase their activities in the Bashi Channel in the future. Due to the improvement in naval technology, it has become difficult to conduct antisubmarine patrol activities. China aims to ward off U.S. aircraft carriers in times of emergency, at the Taiwan Strait.

What's the military balance between China and Taiwan?

The balance is still in Taiwan's favor as far as our judgment is concerned. But it has become extremely difficult for us to procure arms because a number of countries have not sold us weapons due to Beijing's diplomatic pressure. Taiwan's fighter jets have become obsolete.

Therefore, if the current situation continues, the military balance will turn in China's favor.

The number of Chinese missiles deployed against Taiwan topped 1,300. Since China lacks capability to cruise across the Taiwan Strait for a landing operation, China intends to fire missiles in the political and economic nerve centers of Taiwan to cause social paralysis, thereby forcing us to surrender.

Could you tell us about a deployment plan for Hsiung-Feng [Brave Wind] 2-E missiles?

I won't deny there's a development plan, but can't say whether it has been completed. It's "under development," I should say. The range cannot be publicized, but they aren't intended to strike civilian targets such as in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

China has boosted its capabilities to prevent intervention by the U.S. military in times of emergency. Taiwan must wait for the arrival of U.S. troops to fight together. Therefore, it is essential to secure capabilities to make counterattacks on China's missile and radar bases as well as runways for military aircraft in order to buy time to delay China's invasion of Taiwan.

How about China's plans regarding the acquisition of aircraft carriers?

China hopes to possess aircraft carrier by 2015 and may have a carrier fleet possibly by 2020. China aims to build a flat carrier modeled after the Varyag it purchased from Ukraine and capable of takeoff and landing operations for China's newly development jet fighter, the J-10. The plan is at the research stage using technology bought from Russia.

The aircraft carrier isn't needed for operations in the Taiwan Strait and therefore is intended to ensure safe transport of strategic energy sources, such as oil, in the high seas.

(Contributed by Toshinao Ishii Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent)