Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Taiwan military says China able to invade by 2020

China's arms buildup over the last two decades would give it the power to invade Taiwan by 2020 even if allies came to the island's aid, a military report said Tuesday.

The mainland's annual military spending has grown on average by double-digit rates over the past 20 years or so, according to Taiwan's 2013 National Defence Report.

Aside from military might, it said, China's capacity for weapons research and manufacturing had greatly increased, "which has boosted its military deterrent and posed a grave threat to Taiwan".

Among the new weapons China had acquired, both locally produced and purchased from Russia, were nuclear-powered and conventional submarines, strategic bombers, stealth fighters, early warning aircraft and ballistic and air defence missiles, it said.

"With the continued arms buildup, the Chinese communists will be able to take Taiwan by force before the end of 2020," it said.

The report also cited China's growing military capability to deter foreign intervention, in contrast to the US Pacific pivot policy which it said had been "stifled" due to budget constraints.

The United States is Taiwan's main ally. In 1996 it sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near the island after China lobbed missiles into the sea to try to deter Taiwanese from voting for President Lee Teng-hui.

The report said China's military, known as the People's Liberation Army, has a total strength of 2.27 million of which the army accounts for 1.25 million. About one-third of its army is deployed directly opposite Taiwan.

Military analysts say China has targeted the island with at least 1,600 ballistic missiles.

Despite the potential military threat, Taiwan is cutting its own defence spending, with the number of troops due to be reduced to 215,000 next year from the present 240,000.

Ties between Taipei and Beijing have eased markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang was elected in March 2008 on a platform of ramping up trade and tourism links. He was re-elected in January 2012 for a second and last four-year term.

But Beijing still refuses to renounce its use of force should the island declare independence, even though Taiwan has ruled itself for more than 60 years.

The two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949. -Channel News Asia

APEC vows closer economic cooperation

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) wrapped up its summit in Bali, Indonesia with a vow to implement responsible macroeconomic policies.

Saying global growth is too weak, APEC has renewed its commitment to work together to retain economic growth.

Most of the grouping's final declaration, read out by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was a reiteration of longstanding goals.

Present at the two-day summit were heads of 21 of the world's most dynamic economies, accounting for more than half of global trade.

It was business for them as they gathered at the Indonesian resort island. But they did more than talk trade.

President Yudhoyono said one new initiative was to consider threats to food, water and energy security from a "holistic" point of view, taking into account population growth and climate change.

He also called on the public and private sectors to collaborate closely together, while the world economy is still recovering.

He said: "Close collaboration will result in a win-win situation, especially at the time when the global recovery has yet to fully recover.

"Now that we have all these agreements and commitments, we must show to the world that APEC will continue to play a significant role in global economy.

"I believe that all APEC economies will share responsibility to live up to these commitments."

Simply put, the APEC summit is about governments making it easier for businesses - big and small - and individuals to do global business, to break down barriers to trade like tariffs.

In this respect, APEC can claim some progress.

Since 1994, average tariffs in the APEC economies have come down from about 15% to about 5% today.

The loftier target they have set themselves is free trade for all emerging markets by 2020.

On the sidelines of the trade talks, China was questioned about its pollution track record as Beijing will play host next year.

Officials said that preparations are already underway, but refused to disclose how much money the government is pouring into the project.

Zhao Huimin, director of foreign affairs of the Beijing Municipal Government, said: "Compared to when Beijing organized the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing has adopted more mature procedures and plans to tackle heavy pollution.

"By then (2014), we will adopt concrete measures with accordance to the air quality."

Some leaders also worked on improving neighbourly ties.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino met with Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying and they agreed to restart official talks over the Manila hostage crisis three years ago.

The incident left eight Hong Kong people dead.

Survivors and families of the victims are demanding an official apology and compensation from the Philippine government. -Channel News Asia