(by Richard Halloran, March 28, 2008, WashingtonTimes.com) – China has deployed far more missiles aimed at Taiwan than previously reported, according to U.S. officials with access to intelligence assessments.
The officials say China has 1,400 ballistic missiles targeting the self-governing island over which Beijing claims sovereignty.
That is 40 percent more than earlier U.S. reports saying about 1,000 missiles were deployed across the strait from Taiwan.
The Pentagon, in its recent report on Chinese military power, said 990 to 1,070 missiles were pointed at Taiwan, including variants “with improved ranges, accuracies, and payloads.”
President Chen Shui-bian, who is to step down on May 20 when President-elect Ma Ying-jeou is inaugurated, said recently that China had deployed 1,328 missiles at Taiwan.
U.S. officials have declined to confirm Mr. Chen’s numbers on the record. But Washington has expressed growing concern over China’s military buildup and the threat it poses to Taiwan.
“The threat that China poses is increasing, in my opinion, for the folks who are our friends in Taiwan,” Adm. Timothy Keating, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told Congress earlier this month.
While avoiding discussion of operational plans to respond to the threat, Adm. Keating said his Pacific Command was “adequately resourced” to meet U.S. requirements.
He pointed to two aircraft carrier battle groups, six B-52 and three B-2 bombers deployed to Guam in the western Pacific, and a new addition to the Pacific Fleet, the submarine Ohio, which is armed with 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The U.S. has long insisted that the future of Taiwan be settled peaceably, while Chinese leaders have repeatedly asserted that China would resort to military force to conquer the island if the government in Taipei declared formal independence.
The officials who produced the updated missile number have had long experience in dealing with the China-Taiwan dispute.
In its recent report on China’s military power, required annually by the Congress, the Pentagon said, “China has the most active ballistic missile program in the world.”
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles to garrisons opposite Taiwan.
“It is increasing the size of this force at a rate of more than 100 missiles per year,” the Pentagon said.
Further, the Pentagon said, “the PLA is acquiring large numbers of highly accurate cruise missiles,” such as ground-launched land attack cruise missiles, supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, and anti-ship ballistic missiles.
Mr. Ma has promised not to seek independence for Taiwan, ruled out unification with the mainland and demanded no use of military force by either side.
“I believe the world is big enough to accommodate both Taiwan and the mainland,” Mr. Ma said.
He has proposed a peace agreement with China, which would require Beijing to recognize the government in Taipei as legitimate.
Copyright 2008 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com
China’s military buildup includes missiles pointed at Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, a democratically ruled island about 100 miles from the Chinese coast:
Year – Number of missiles
2008 – 1,400 *
2007 – 1,070
2003 – 450
2001 – 300
Source: News reports; U.S. intelligence reports *
1. Define “deploy” and “ballistic” as used in this article.
2. How many ballistic missiles does China currently have targeting Taiwan?
3. The U.S. has expressed growing concern over China’s military buildup and the threat it poses to Taiwan. How did Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, react to the threat China poses to Taiwan?
4. How do U.S. and Chinese leaders differ in their views on how to settle the issue of Taiwan’s future?
5. What did the annual Pentagon report relate about China’s military (the PLA)?
6. What has newly elected Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou said about Taiwan’s relationship with China?
NOTE: The Taiwan Relations Act was passed by Congress in 1979. The Act sets out the parameters of America’s relationship with both the People’s Republic of China and with Taiwan, stating that Chinese use of military force against Taiwan would be regarded as a threat to the peace of the region and a matter of “grave concern” to the United States. (Read the text of Taiwan Relations Act here.)
View a map of Taiwan and China found at WorldAtlas.com.
For a brief History of Taiwan, click here.
For background information on Taiwan, go to the CIA World FactBook website here. (Under “Select a Country or Location,” scroll to the bottom of the list. Because Taiwan is not recognized as an independent country, it is listed after Zimbabwe.)