The relations between China and Taiwan could be best described with one phrase – no peace, no war. After Kuomintang supporters fled to Taiwan in 1949 together with their leader leader General Chiang Kai-shek, Beijing keeps saying that Taiwan was an integral part of China, and the government of Taiwan, which does not obey the Chinese leadership, is a temporal fact.
Of course, China could have settled all discrepancies with Taiwan long ago, but Chiang Kai-shek was wise enough to ask Americans for protection. Since then Taiwan has become one of the most difficult problems in the relations between America and China.
However, all those things do not stop China and Taiwan from the economic cooperation. Taiwan is one of the leaders in the field of hi-tech industry in the world, a lot of Taiwanese firms have moved a part of their production to China over the recent years. Beijing welcomes this fact, of course, since the Chinese leadership takes a lot of efforts for turning the country into a super-power. China has succeeded to a certain extent: in the nearest future China will soon leave the USA behind on the number of internet-users.
But politics is constantly interfering into commercial and economic links between the two countries. It is not ruled out that the relations between Beijing and Taipei will soon worsen again over one person only – Taiwanese Defense Minister Tang Yiau-ming. The minister is known as a follower of the idea of Taiwan’s independence. Tang Yiau-ming has already caused several diplomatic disputes before, not only with Beijing and Taipei’s participation, Washington was also there. After Tang Yiau-ming visited the United States last month, the Chinese government did not allow the American torpedo-boat enter the port of Hong Kong, although the captain of the boat was simply going to get some water and food stocks. Now one may expect a bigger scandal, since the Taiwanese minister for defense presented a program for modernization of the armed forces of the island for the coming couple of years. The basic idea of the program is about the contradiction against the possible threat on the part of China. Taiwan is going to spend some $20.3 billion on purchasing weapons for repulsing a possible attack from China. The army will get new submarines, radar systems of distant range, helicopters and Patriot missiles. Taiwan needs to strengthen the anti-missile defense with the help of the new weapons, as well as the coastal police.
Tang Yiau-ming stated in his speech to the parliament that the present missile systems did not “satisfy the needs of our defense, especially when it comes to anti-missile defense.” There are at least 300 Chinese ballistic missiles aiming the island. In April Taiwan signed a contract with the USA for purchasing arms – the contract was the largest in ten years. This agreement provides for the delivery of eight diesel submarines, four guarding vessels and 12 planes. In May Taiwan conducted successful tests of Sky Bow II surface-to-air missile, which was of home production. The administration of the Sky Bow II projection stated that there were plans for producing an analogue of the American Patriot missile.
To all appearance, Taipei believes that an armed conflict with China was quite possible. But the new program for the modernization of the Taiwanese armed forces can provoke this conflict. Beijing will not turn a blind eye on the fact that “the other side of the Taiwanese Gulf” is going to equip its army with up-to-date weapon. As a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, China will not promise to refuse from the use of the force, since there are people, who wish to split China, or set up “independent Taiwan.”
It seems that the parties are not really looking for a compromise at the moment. Until Taipei is using Washington's support, until Beijing is standing on the principle of “joint and integral China,” there will be no progress in the political relations of the countries. So let’s see, what China has to say regarding the new Taiwanese defense program.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969