HONG KONG, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Despite the apparent easing of cross-strait relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan since Ma Ying-jeou assumed the presidency in Taipei, China's armed forces are not lightening up in their preparations for a military struggle against the island. On the contrary, preparations are moving ahead at an accelerated pace.
Xu Caihou, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, told a visiting delegation from Japan's Self-Defense Force in July that even though the more moderate and cautious Kuomintang Party had come to power in Taiwan, the hostile relationship between the two sides had not ended and China would not downgrade its military preparedness with regard to Taiwan.
The Taiwanese media interpreted Xu's remarks to mean that China would not withdraw the short-range tactical ballistic missiles it has aimed at the island.
A representative from the Taiwanese Defense Ministry claims that China recently has started to deploy S-300PMU2 surface-to-air missiles, and the new generation DF-15A surface-to-air missile is also being deployed at an accelerated pace. The information conforms to that received from other sources.
Taiwan's possession of this intelligence indicates that the island is not slackening its efforts to penetrate China's military establishment, and the reverse is certainly true as well.
There are a number of reasons for the two sides to maintain their postures of military alertness toward one another. The People's Republic of China has three major concerns with regard to the political situation in Taiwan, according to Chinese political analysts and cross-strait observers who participated in a recent seminar in Hong Kong.
First, China's leaders tend to believe that Taiwan's political dynamics are unpredictable, and it cannot assume that the Kuomintang will remain permanently in power. If there is another transfer of power to the opposition, the Taiwan independence issue may resurface.
Second, differences are emerging between factions within the Kuomintang, leading Beijing to wonder to what extent Ma is in control of the party. Who else has a significant voice, and how will differences within the party affect cross-strait relations? This is what China's Taiwan affairs analysts most want to know.
Moreover, the Chinese Communist Party is uncomfortable with the fact that the Kuomintang's understanding of the "one China principle" is different from its own. Although Beijing and Taipei have accepted the 1992 consensus -- a formula under which the two sides agreed to disagree about the interpretation of "one China" -- it is not a firm negotiating position.
Ma Ying-jeou rose to his current political status as an anticommunist leader, and some mainland scholars view his current cross-strait policy as a repetition of former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui's "two-state theory." His position that Taiwan -- which calls itself the Republic of China -- is an independent country is also not much different from former President Chen Shui-bian's "Taiwan independence," they feel.
(Part 2: The dynamics of China's military buildup)
(Andrei Chang is editor in chief of Kanwa Defense Review Monthly, registered in Toronto.)