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    DOD Briefing

Q: On the China white paper yesterday, the White House has made clear U.S. policy, that it would view very seriously any attack on Taiwan. How does the Pentagon feel about this? And do you plan any show of force at all? Is the United States planning any show of force in the South China Sea to emphasize this?

Mr. Bacon: We feel the same way the White House feels about it.

Q: No -- (off mike) --

Mr. Bacon: Our policy is very clear. We have a one-China policy. Disputes between China and Taiwan should be settled peacefully.

The Chinese have issued a white paper that contains some rhetorical threats, but -- and we don't think those threats are helpful, but they are -- it is only rhetoric at this stage. We plan no change in force dispositions, no change in our naval dispositions in the area at this stage. Obviously, we'll watch this situation very closely.


Q: Ken, the Chinese just yesterday announced that they were demanding Taiwan join the mainland, that this was, I think, something that Taiwan was being expected to do. Is this approach of non-negotiation acceptable to the United States?

Mr. Bacon: Well, you've characterized it as non-negotiation. I'm not sure that that is the characterization that I would use. What they said was, they were asking for a firm deadline for unification, not an indefinite deadline for unification. That's my understanding of what the white paper said.

Our policy is very clear. There's a one-China policy. Any disputes about timing, between the two, China and Taiwan, should be resolved peacefully. And that's the policy. So we reject threats about the use of force.

Q: And do you reject the use of deadlines?

Mr. Bacon: It is for Taiwan and China to sort out this timetable on their own.

Q: If China were to ever make good on this threat and attack Taiwan because of its failure to set any sort of firm deadline, would the United States come to the aid of Taiwan?

Mr. Bacon: Well, there are a number of hypothetical questions there, but let me stick to the facts, and the facts are the Taiwan Relations Act. The Taiwan Relations Act says that we would view any use of force with grave concern, and we would consult with Congress over the appropriate response.

Q: Over the last several years, conventional wisdom of outside military experts has been that, while threatening an invasion of Taiwan would be -- it is easy to do that -- for China to actually carry out such an invasion would be difficult given the state of its military, its lift capabilities, air force, that sort of thing.

Can you tell us whether that assessment at all has changed with China's program to modernize its military forces? Is it more capable today of carrying out an invasion, or is it some years away from having that capability?

Mr. Bacon: Our assessment that it would be extremely difficult for China to carry out an invasion has not changed.

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