Pentagon urges cross-strait plan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 July, 1998, 12:00am

The United States is almost certain to be drawn into a cross-strait conflict if Taiwan declares independence - and Washington must plan to avert that scenario, Pentagon military researchers say.

One option is to appoint a special envoy for China-Taiwan relations, according to a new study by the Institute for National Strategic Studies, part of the Defence Department-funded National Defence University.

The study, Strategic Trends in China, said: 'There is a new dynamic in relations across the Taiwan Strait.

'Taipei has come to view itself as a sovereign government equal to Beijing, while many in China believe that Taiwan authorities are preparing for independence.

'If Taipei declares independence, a military conflict into which the United States might be drawn would probably ensue.' The study recommended 'a reassessment of US strategies for Taiwan that considers changes in the US-China-Taiwan equation', including a special envoy.

However, the institute's report warned China was likely to adapt its nuclear missile programme if the US went ahead with plans to station a missile defence system in Taiwan or other Asian allies.

'It would, therefore, be useful to consider new approaches to Beijing on arms control before deployment or transfer of theatre missile defence systems to Japan, Korea or Taiwan,' said the study.

The Pentagon was also urged to keep a close eye on China's military modernisation, especially its ongoing strategy of identifying ways of defeating potential adversaries through information warfare.

'By 2015, China might deploy a force that could begin to mirror some of the US military capabilities of the early 1990s,' said the study.