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Report: Taiwan’s Military Outdated

March 31, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A highly classified Pentagon report warns Taiwan may have trouble defending itself against air and missile attack from China and concludes that the island’s military capability has been weakened through years of diplomatic isolation, The Washington Post reported today.

Taiwan’s military is technologically outdated and faces a ``host of problems″ that make the island vulnerable to attack, according to the 40-page report described to the newspaper.

The Pentagon report, which suggests Taiwan is much more vulnerable to attack from China than generally recognized, come after aggressive Chinese threats related to the recent presidential election in Taiwan. A pro-independence candidate was elected, further rankling China, which sees Taiwan as part of greater China.

The Pentagon report says the Taiwanese military has poor security at its bases and is failing to train senior personnel to properly operate weapons systems.

Taiwan’s military has missed the information revolution, the report suggests, failing to integrate advances in information processing into its operations. Among other things, these advances allow for militaries to detect fast-moving and hidden targets, transfer the information and guide weapons to their targets.

``There is no other military in the world that experiences the kind of isolation Taiwan’s does,″ a Clinton administration official told the Post, summarizing the report. ``They don’t train or have contacts with anyone. And as warfare has become more complex, it has become more difficult for them to handle all these new technologies.″

The newspaper did not identify the official, who described the report as highly sensitive.

The report could become important in the debate over whether the United States should sell Taiwan four sophisticated Aegis guided-missile destroyers and other advanced military equipment. That includes long-range radar that could peer deep into the Chinese mainland.

China opposes a sale, saying such action would be a hostile ``last straw″ in U.S.-Chinese relations. The Clinton administration is expected to decide what to do by the end of April.

The report sheds further doubt on whether the equipment would be too sophisticated for Taiwan to use properly.

The report was produced by officers who work for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and by officials in the policy office of the defense secretary.

An official with the Taiwan government office in Washington declined to comment to the Post.

Beijing still claims Taiwan as part of its territory even though they have been governed separately since splitting 51 years ago.

Update hourly