Taipei, June 30 (CNA) China's first aircraft carrier, the Varyag, will not pose a military threat to Taiwan or the South China Sea area in the near future because its full capability is still years away, former U.S. defense secretary William Perry said on Thursday.
"Even if you have an aircraft carrier, it's not important because you have to operate an aircraft carrier group," Perry said. "During the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, we didn't send two aircraft carriers alone, but aircraft carrier groups. And that involves many other ships, involves submarines, involves airplanes, and most importantly, it involves years and years of training," he said.
He predicted that it will take decades before Taiwan should be concerned about China's carrier capabilities.
Perry said he is watching China's other naval developments very carefully. He is most concerned about Chinese missiles.
Perry, who is leading an eight-person delegation to Taiwan from June 29 to July 1 to promote the "Preventive Defense Project," made the remarks after he visited Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Lai Shin-yuan in Taipei.
Perry said he is impressed by the work done by Minister Lai and the MAC and thinks the progress made in the last three years has helped ease tensions between China and Taiwan.
"We just came to talk with Dr. Lai in the cross-strait Mainland Affairs Office. What has been done there is working closely with the Chinese government to help cross-strait relations," Perry said. "From a preventive defense point of view, all of those things are really important because they are building up confidence and trust."
Perry said there will be millions of Chinese people coming to Taiwan, and they will meet Taiwanese people and see democracy in action. All of those things could be part of preventive defense, which will make military actions unnecessary, he said.
Perry served as the United States Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997.
(By Jeffrey Wu)