Up In Arms

The 10th Aegis Class guided missile destroyer "ROSS"--DDG 71 AP

It's on the top of Taiwan's wish list — advanced Aegis class destroyers designed to defend ships against aircraft and missile attacks. They would join American made fighter jets and other arms modernizing Taiwan's military, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen.

China fears this state of the art radar system will significantly enhance Taiwan's defensive capability. China's reaction? Rage.

"And among the arms sales they have sold, or are going to sell, Aegis is the worst," exclaimed Ambassador Zha Zu-Kang, Director of China's Disarmament Agency.

Emotions run deep in Chinese history. When the communist won the civil war in 1949, the losers fled to Taiwan and set up a government in exile.

China's communist leaders call Taiwan a breakaway, renegade province. And that is why they see U.S. arms sales as meddling in China's internal affairs.

"But some guys in the world treat Taiwan as if is one of their states. And even more important than any of their states — it's most ridiculous! It's a violation of international law! Taiwan is part of China! It's none of your business! That is very clear," said Ambassador Zha.

The real danger is that a conflict between Taiwan and China would draw the U.S. in on Taiwan's side. We're talking about a high-stakes, high-tech shooting war between two nuclear powers. Here in China, they prepare and practice for it daily.

Exercises that take place off Taiwan's coast. And it's one reason China is increasing its military spending by double digits. China officially reports a $17 billion budget, some analysts say it's more like $45 billion. That's still just a fraction of what America spends.

Clearly, it will take decades, if ever, for China to equal the firepower or sophistication of American forces. But when it comes to Taiwan, America's might may be no deterrent on China's emotion.

"We condemn this idea! Taiwan, don't forget, is a territory of China," reminded Ambassador Zha.



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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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