WASHINGTON – China’s primary security priority is to block efforts by Taiwan toward permanent separation and prevent Japan’s further military cooperation with the United States, the Pentagon said in a report Friday.
The Pentagon made the assessment in its annual report on the military power of China, which was presented to Congress under the national defense authorization act of fiscal 2000.
Beijing “seeks to counter what it perceives to be Japan’s growing military cooperation with the United States,” the report said.
The strategy is aimed at preventing “a rebirth of Japanese militarism,” it said.
The report said Beijing suspects the revised defense guidelines for the enhanced U.S.-Japan security cooperation “authorize Japanese military action beyond Japan’s previous defense posture and prompt Tokyo to improve its regional force protection capabilities.”
On Taiwan, China has a long-term objective of eventual reunification under Beijing’s terms.
Beijing considers Taiwan’s acceptance of “one China” to be a basis for reunification talks, the report said.
“China insists that Taiwan should engage in ‘political talks,’ which would set the stage for the island’s eventual reunification with the mainland under the ‘one country, two systems’ formula,” it said.
Beijing says if Taipei declares independence or a foreign country intervenes in Taiwan’s internal affairs, it would consider using force against the island.
The Pentagon said China, in the interim, will continue to prepare its military forces for such a contingency.
“In addition, it will attempt to influence political developments on the island and prevent Taiwan from moving toward de jure independence,” the report said.
Maintaining air superiority over the Taiwan Strait would be an essential part of any Chinese effort to mount a military operation against Taiwan, it said.
China currently has an overwhelming quantitative advantage over Taiwan in military aircraft and is expected to retain that advantage beyond 2005, it said.
On the other hand, Taiwan’s aircraft will provide it with a qualitative advantage that should be retained at least through that period, the report said.
Despite its refusal to renounce its right to use force, Beijing is unlikely to attack Taiwan, citing negative effects on China’s economy, the report said.
“Some are aware that war with Taiwan could be economically and politically devastating,” it said.
China’s main national policy priority remains economic reform, making it unlikely that it will take action that “might threaten its economic growth and its access to foreign markets, investment and technology,” the report said.
China will continue to value economic benefits that derive from its access to Japanese technology, trade and foreign investment, it said.
Other security goals by China include preventing the development and deployment of a regional theater missile defense system, particularly one involving Taiwan, the Pentagon said.
Japan and the United States have agreed to cooperate in jointly developing such a system.
“Beijing calculates that U.S. efforts to develop national and theater missile defense will challenge the credibility of China’s nuclear deterrence and eventually be extended to protect Taiwan,” it said.