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Japanese think tank says China gaining military edge over Taiwan+
[March 26, 2006]

Japanese think tank says China gaining military edge over Taiwan+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, March 27_(Kyodo) _ (EDS: TO BE LED)

The Japan Defense Agency's think tank cautioned in a report released Monday that the military standoff between China and Taiwan is tilting toward Beijing's advantage with a rapid modernization of the Chinese military.

"China is accelerating its military modernization, especially in nuclear and missile capabilities, and it can be assumed that it is steadily accumulating experiences from drills with unifying Taiwan by force in mind," the National Institute for Defense Studies said in its 2006 East Asian Strategic Review.

In contrast, Taiwan's government was unable to secure parliamentary approval for funds to purchase weapons for deterring China's ballistic missile and submarine capabilities due to confrontation between the ruling and opposition camps, the report said.

The annual report, which analyzes defense issues in East Asia, also noted the increasing military cooperation between Russia, China and India through military drills, weapons transfers and sharing of military technologies.

In particular, the report said Beijing and Moscow have strengthened military ties to expand influence in Central Asia. "Even if they do not develop into an alliance, the two countries are expected to continue to boost their current strategic partnership even further," it said.

As for Japan's chilly ties with Russia, the think tank urged Tokyo to promote bilateral ties comprehensively with Moscow, instead of discussing the territorial dispute over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the southern Kurils in Russia, as an isolated issue.

Regarding Southeast Asia, the report said it is likely that relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and major powerhouses in the region will become more complicated as the United States, China and India compete for stronger military and economic ties with the countries.

On Japan's role, the report said, "It is necessary for Japan to support an ASEAN-led creation of an East Asian community and to provide economic and political assistance to the region such as to reduce disparity among the countries."

The think tank noted that five key ASEAN countries -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand -- have been increasing their defense expenditures since 2000.

It noted especially that Singapore's joint research with the United States and its move toward high-precision military technologies may trigger neighboring countries to deploy similar equipment and that Washington may step up efforts to sell its equipment to Southeast Asian countries that have traditionally depended on Russia, Eastern Europe and China for military supplies.

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