Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Expansionist China Deploys Missile Units Near Taiwan

Taiwan's top intelligence chief said China had deployed a new missile unit near the island, a lawmaker revealed Thursday, sparking concerns about the fragility of ties with the mainland.Related News About Chinese Missiles

Tsai Teh-sheng, head of the National Security Bureau, described the new unit, located in southern China, while replying to queries last week raised by legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang party.

"The unit, carrying the code number 96166 and based in Guangdong province, is indeed a new unit, probably a new ballistic missile brigade," Tsai said, without providing details, according to a statement released by Lin.
"Over the past few years, the People's Liberation Army has kept increasing its deployment of ballistic missile units in both quantity and quality opposite Taiwan," the intelligence chief was quoted as saying in the statement.

Taiwanese experts estimate that China currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island, mostly deployed in Fujian and Jiangxi provinces in the mainland's southeast, forecasting that the number will reach 1,800 next year.

Lin, a university professor specialising in military affairs, said China's continued expansion of its railway network also has helped boost the flexibility of its missile arm.The extensive rail network enables the weapons to be transported swiftly to the coastal areas when needed and even to be launched from railway cars.

On Thursday, in response to questions raised by another Kuomintang legislator, Tsai said that with restrictions on visits to the island being eased, Chinese intelligence agents have arrived disguised as tourists, academics and civil organisation staff.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang became Taiwan's president in 2008 on a platform of boosting trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
However, Beijing still refuses to renounce the possible use of force against the island, which has ruled itself since the end of a civil war in 1949, should it declare formal independence.

The Pentagon said in an annual report to Congress last year that China's military build-up against Taiwan had "continued unabated" despite improving political relations.

The perceived threat has prompted Taiwan to seek more advanced weapons, mainly from the United States.