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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

China To Modernize Military, Reunify Taiwan: Defense Minister

Tue, 1 Aug 2006, 00:53

China will be a force for global peace but it must arm its military with the latest in high-tech weapons and ensure that Taiwan never splits from the mainland, the defense minister said July 31.

Minister Cao Gangchuan said modernization remained the armed forces’ priority, the China News Service reported.

”The entire military must eye the historic destiny of China’s military in the new century and new era and push forward the main line of a Chinese-style revolution in military affairs,” the service quoted Cao as saying.

”We must unswervingly fulfill our sacred duty to defend state sovereignty, territorial integrity and security and never tolerate Taiwan independence and never permit Taiwan independence forces under any name or under any circumstances or form to split Taiwan from the motherland.”

Cao was speaking at a military meeting in Beijing ahead of the July 31 79th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.

He called for a comprehensive modernization program, including giving the armed forces the latest in modern weaponry and information warfare, and carrying out extensive joint exercises.

”We must comprehensively strengthen the modernization of our army and ensure that under any complicated situation our military is capable of effectively confronting crises, containing war and safeguarding peace,” Cao said.

He insisted that China would be a force in maintaining world peace and would unswervingly strive for the peaceful reunification of Taiwan.
China’s rising military spending, which has grown by double digits for much of the last 15 years, has caused concern in the United States and amongst China’s neighbors.

In March parliament approved a 14.7-percent increase in military spending to $35 billion this year.

Although this is paltry compared to the $419 billion U.S. defense budget in 2006, the Pentagon last year estimated that China’s defense spending was two to three times the publicly announced figure.

The report also said that China’s military modernization was largely aimed at retaking Taiwan by force, with Beijing targeting some 800 ballistic missiles at the island which it views as a renegade province awaiting reunification.

Beijing says that with the world’s largest standing military, much of its defense spending is spent on equipping, feeding and housing 2.3 million members.

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