- Taipei (CNA) - A Ministry of National Defense (MND) official
confirmed Friday recent reports of two US aircraft carrier groups exercising
in the South China Sea, but stressed that the drills are part of the US
Navy's annual routine event.
- Vice Defense Minister Sun Tao-yu made the remarks during
Friday morning's breakfast meeting and at the invitation of New Party Caucus
Convener Lee Ching-hua and Legislative Vice Convener Feng Hu-hsiang. The
meeting was called to examine how the ministry is operating amid continued
tensions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
- When asked by Feng about foreign wire service reports
on exercises by two US aircraft carriers last week near Singapore, Sun
confirmed that the United States did send two carrier groups, the USS Kitty
Hawk and Constellation, to the South China Sea, but stressed that it was
probably part of an annual routine exercise.
- After the war in the Persian Gulf, Sun said, North and
South Korea have become the United States' major strategic concerns; thus
this was probably just part of a normal exercise of the US South Pacific
fleet, he said.
- Whether the battle group exercise was related to tensions
in the Taiwan Strait, the MND has no way of knowing, the vice minister
- Sun also stressed that the situation across the Taiwan
Strait mostly depends on the Republic of China's ability to clearly monitor
mainland Chinese military activities.
- As for the fact that mainland Chinese jet fighters crossed
the center line of the Taiwan Strait twice in late July, Sun said that
the ROC Air Force had closely monitored both incidents.
- The center line of the strait is not a statutory boundary,
but a tacit understanding between the two sides, he said, and the mainland
Chinese Air Force has always shown considerable self-restraint in the past.
- As long as its activities do not interfere with Taiwan's
international and domestic flights and are not provocative, no conflicts
are likely to erupt, he said.
- Since the outlying Matsu and Kinmen islands both lie
closer to the mainland than to Taiwan, the ROC Air Force would have to
cross over the center line as well when providing air supplies, he pointed
- Sun dismissed foreign wire reports of two ROC Mirage
jet fighters being locked onto by mainland Chinese Su-27s. If the Su-27s
had targeted ROC jet fighters with their narrow radar beams and not fired,
their positions would have been exposed, he pointed out.
- He continued that unless mainland China was prepared
to wage war, the ROC Air Force would actually welcome more mainland jet
fighters locking onto Taiwan warplanes so that Taiwan can easily obtain
information on mainland Chinese fighters.
- The vice minister also dismissed reports that 500,000
reservists had been amassing in Fujian province and that they could "easily
take over Taiwan in four to five days."
- As mainland China lacks military mobility, Sun said that
military experts from both England and the United States have said that
the mainland does not have the ability to conquer Taiwan at present, and
that Beijing's claims are part of its psychological warfare campaign against
- Sun pointed out that the MND is well prepared for further
"information warfare" against Taiwan, and added that it is not
likely that Beijing would launch an economic blockade against the island
since such a move would affect the economic benefits of other Asian countries.
(By Wendy Chung)