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Taiwan-U.S. cooperation can prevent Chinese invasion: Ian Easton

2017/11/09 18:24:20

Ian Easton

Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) A visiting U.S. scholar said Thursday that despite China's military buildup, mainly to take Taiwan by force, a war between the two sides could be prevented if the United States helped beef up Taiwan's defense capabilities.

"China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is thinking very hard of this mission, which is their principal one," Ian Easton, an analyst from the U.S. think tank Project 2049 Institute, said at a forum in Taipei.

It is important, therefore, that Americans and Taiwanese see China's growing military prowess as a serious threat and realize that there is no easy solution, he said.

There is no way to change Beijing's desire to invade Taiwan, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) came to power, Easton said.

Xi is much more hawkish than his predecessors and is reforming the PLA by adopting new and innovative tactics and plans, Easton said.

However, if the U.S. and Taiwan can work together to boost the latter's defense capabilities, a cross-Taiwan Strait war can be prevented, Easton said.

"What we can do is to make sure we are prepared," he said. "If we prepare sufficiently we can protect the safety and stability in the region."

Easton said there are two major myths about a potential cross-strait war, which were created largely through China's successful psychological warfare.

"One of the myths is that Taiwan is hopeless (against a Chinese invasion) and it is inevitable so you should give up now," he said.

But in fact, the Chinese military is very respectful toward Taiwan's military, he said, citing internal Chinese documents he managed to obtain.

"It is a myth that Taiwan is a hopeless place or unification is inevitable," Easton said. "Taiwan controls its own future."

The other myth is that the U.S. would not help Taiwan if a cross-strait war broke out, the scholar said.

"If you read China's own assessment, however, they take it for granted that the U.S. will help to defend Taiwan," he said.

There is a "100 percent chance" that Washington will help defend Taipei in the event of a war, Easton said, adding that the only two questions would be when the U.S. would arrive and how exactly it would help.

One major reason for the U.S. to help is that Taiwan is a democracy and an old ally, he said. Another reason is the island's geo-strategic location in East Asia and the West Pacific at the center of the First Island Chain, Easton said.

If the PLA did decide to invade, however, the troops most likely would land in Taoyuan City in northern Taiwan so they could seize the Port of Taipei and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, before taking the capital Taipei, he said.

But Taiwan knows this perfectly well and has those areas properly defended, said Easton, who recently published a book titled "The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan's Defense and American Strategy in Asia."

In his book, Easton cites Taiwan's 2013 Defense White Paper, saying China will be capable of launching a full-scale military attack against Taiwan by 2020.

(By Joseph Yeh)