Army Day salvo targets Lee, sect

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 August, 1999, 12:00am

Army Day was marked yesterday with state media tributes to the 'unbeatable' PLA as a stabilising force against Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui and the outlawed Falun Gong.

The PLA's flagship newspaper cited President Lee's repudiation of Taiwan's 'one China' policy and the Communist Party's battle to stamp out the sect as key challenges on the 72nd anniversary of its founding.

'Lee Teng-hui's playing with fire further shows that the forces of separatism on Taiwan deserve serious attention and the struggle for national unification is growing sharper and more complicated,' said the Liberation Army Daily.

'The disorder sown by the Falun Gong organisation demonstrates that in the struggle in the realm of thought we can't merely wish for victory. Our task of preserving social stability is formidable.

'The war in Kosovo gave China yet another warning signal that the world is not peaceful and war is not far away.' At a reception, Defence Minister General Chi Haotian repeated that Taiwan should not underestimate the army's resolve to maintain China's territorial integrity, the paper reported.

'The PLA stands ready and prepared to defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity at any time and will firmly smash any attempts to split the motherland,' General Chi was quoted as saying.

'Going against the will of the entire Chinese people and the tide of history, Lee Teng-hui and the Taiwan authorities have brazenly redefined cross-strait relations as state-to-state.' However General Chi repeated Beijing's wish to seek 'peaceful reunification'.

The PLA would continue to cut its forces by 500,000 soldiers to 2.5 million in the coming years, while invigorating the actual fighting force through scientific and technological advances, he said.