An intensified drive is under way in the US Congress to force the administration of President George W. Bush into an even closer military relationship with Taiwan - a push bolstered by the release of a critical Pentagon report at the weekend. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate armed services committees are soon due to meet to finalise defence spending laws for next year that could include formal language demanding expanded ties with Taiwan - a move which would inflame ties with Beijing. House members succeeded in passing their own version of the bill with reference to a sweeping 'training plan' that would effectively formalise a delicate semi-official relationship. Covering a full range of military exercises, planning and intelligence, it promises to 'improve the defensive capabilities of Taiwan and to enhance inter-operability between the military forces of Taiwan and the . . . United States'. No such measure was put in the Senate's own bill but intense lobbying is now starting in order to ensure it remains when the two are put together during closed-door negotiations. A single final document will then be sent to the White House for Mr Bush to sign. 'A lot of our members were keen and we will not be giving up on this one easily,' one Republican House source said. 'Helping Taiwan is close to a lot of our hearts.' Despite increasing weapons sales to the island and allowing the private visit to the US of its defence minister, the Bush team is not keen to go as far as destroying its long-held 'one China' policy, many analysts believe. 'We want to get the balance right and essentially show Taiwan a lot more respect,' one administration official said. 'That is what we have been quietly doing in a way that we believe does not overturn the policy thrust . . . certainly any extra measure out of the Congress right now may cause us some problems,' the administration source said. John Tkacik, a scholar with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said he believed the administration did not think such a move was needed given its other moves since Mr Bush took power 18 months ago. A formal defence relationship with Taiwan has long been a sought-after prize of the island's influential lobby on Capitol Hill. Taiwan supporters are expected to be energised by the release of a hard-hitting Pentagon review of China's military ambitions - a document that warns of growing threats to both Taiwan and the US as well as their Asian allies. The Pentagon report to Congress appears to contradict the view of other parts of the Bush administration that China's military development is largely a function of its growth. 'China is in the midst of a ballistic-missile modernisation programme that is improving its force . . . in all classes of missiles,' the report states. 'The modernisation programme will improve both China's nuclear deterrence by increasing the number of warheads that can target the United States, as well as improving its operational capabilities for contingencies in East Asia.' China's Foreign Ministry yesterday responded to the Pentagon report by saying the nation's military policy is defensive, Xinhua reported. 'China is a peace-loving country. Its national defence policy is defensive in nature,' the ministry said. Xinhua said China hoped 'the US government does not send out mistaken signals to Taiwan independence forces and plays a constructive role in the process of realising China's peaceful reunification'. Separately, a US congressional review to be released today demands a 'substantive military dialogue' with Taiwan. The US-China Security Review Commission's first annual report warns of preparations by China to strike 'without notice'.