- HONG KONG (Agence
France Presse) - Military conflict in the Taiwan Strait could erupt at
any moment, a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper reported in front-page
- But with China's military preparations virtually impossible
to verify, observers all face the same problem. The challenge is determining
whether there is any truth behind the daily front page reports in Hong
Kong newspapers or whether they,re part of China's psychological warfare
after Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui demanded "special state-to-state
relations" with the mainland.
- There have been several reports of a military buildup
on the Chinese coast facing Taiwan. But the U.S. Defense department said
Thursday it had no information of any concentration in Fujian province.
- The Wen Wei Po newspaper on Friday had a front-page pictures
of a tank on a navy landing vessel and helicopters and ships taking part
in drills. But there was no explanation of where they were.
- The newspaper quoted Yan Zhao, a senior researcher at
China's Academy of Military Science, as saying that tension in the Taiwan
Strait was "more serious" now than in 1996 when China staged
military drills off Taiwan after Lee made a visit to the United States.
- "It will not be the same now, since he has hit the
bottom line," Yan was quoted as saying. He warned that military conflict
could erupt at any time as China was well-prepared.
- "Our forces in sea, on land, and air have already
made good preparations," he said.
- Yan also said Beijing would not stop using force even
if the United States was to intervene, referring to past history when Chinese
and U.S. troops fought against each other in the Korean War.
- China has kept up a propaganda barrage in recent weeks
to press Lee to back down from his statement that ties with the mainland
are on a "state-to-state" basis.
- Hong Kong newspapers have also given prominent coverage
of the China-Taiwan war of nerves.
- The Hong Kong Economic Times said this week the Chinese
authorities have deployed more fighters and bombers in the eastern coastal
region, including 27 Soviet-built Su-27 fighters.
- The South China Morning Post citing a Beijing source
said China's People's Liberation Army was considering the invasion and
temporary occupation of an outlying island held by Taipei.
- Pro-China sources believed the daily media stories of
the mainland's war readiness were part of the psychological war intended
to "create panic" in Taiwan.
- Taiwan's defense ministry has also made similar accusations.
- China has repeatedly said it might use force to stop
Taiwan attempting to make a formal split with the mainland, which has considered
the nationalist island a renegade province since the two split at the end
of the Chinese civil war in 1949. ((c) 1999 Agence France Presse)