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Taiwan Report Warns of Growing Chinese Military Advantage

Soldiers in armored vehicles take part in an anti-airborne drill as part of the annual Han Kuang military exercise at the Chingchuankang Air Force Base in Taichung, central Taiwan, April 14, 2011.

Taiwan says it is falling further behind in its race to keep up with China's rapidly expanding military capability.

In a biennial defense white paper published Tuesday, Taiwan says China is already capable of imposing a naval blockade around Taiwan and seizing Taiwan-controlled offshore islands. It says the balance of power is expected to continue tipping in China's favor in the years ahead.

The report says China, with more than 1,000 missiles aimed at the island, announced defense spending of $77 billion last year and may in fact have spent more than $200 billion. That compares to Taiwan's defense budget of $9 billion.

The report also notes that China has begun deploying Dong Feng-21 missiles which are considered a threat to aircraft carriers. That would make it more difficult for the United States to assist Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

The report provides ammunition for supporters of Taiwan in the U.S. Congress who are urging the Obama administration to sell 66 advanced F-16 jet fighters to Taipei. The administration says it has made no decision on the request, which could derail months of efforts to improve military-to-military relations with China.

Taiwan has been self-governing since the Nationalist government fled there at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Beijing insists the island is still part of China and must eventually be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.