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Monday, April 18, 2005

Washington Times: Pentagon China Report (?)

Pentagon China report:

Pentagon policy-makers and intelligence officials are close to finishing the latest annual report to Congress on the military power of communist China.

Officials tell us the report's most stark conclusion is this: The military balance across the Taiwan Strait will soon be in China's favor, increasing the danger of war. Beijing has 725 missiles pointed at Taiwan and could conduct a crippling surprise attack on the island, the report, due out next month, will state.

The shifting military balance creates instability and increases the possibility that a military miscalculation by China would draw the United States into a conflict.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials are investigating a Hong Kong press report published earlier this week that said China is set to buy up to 210 French jet fighter-bombers, should the European Union lift its arms embargo.

The Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily, quoting reliable sources, stated that talks on the sale of Mirage 2000 top-of-the-line fighters has been under way since late 2004, and the deal will include 1,200 Mica missiles. China also wants to buy 20 Atlantic ALF-3 maritime patrol aircraft from France's Dassault Aviation, which also makes the Mirage.

The report said Paris is so confident that the embargo will be lifted that it has scheduled pilot training for 40 Chinese pilots to begin in June. But yesterday, U.S. and EU officials said the embargo on China will not be lifted until Beijing improves its human rights record and eases tensions with Taiwan.

The EU arms embargo was imposed on China for its brutal military crackdown on unarmed Chinese pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

The United States remains opposed to lifting the embargo because of concerns it will further shift the military balance in China's favor.
But the EU nations don't have much territory to protect in the area near China so the idea of a strong China is not as threatening to Europe as it is to Japan, S. South Korea, etc. And the idea of helping China "contain" the US must appeal to the Chirac French...

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