- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2001

China is sending additional shipments of short-range missiles to Fujian province opposite Taiwan, a sign Beijing is stepping up deployments as the Bush administration contemplates new arms sales to the island.

U.S. intelligence officials told The Washington Times that the latest shipment of CSS-7 missiles was photographed by a spy satellite in the past two weeks as being aboard a train from a factory in central China to a CSS-7 base at Yongan.

The shipment followed two earlier trainloads of CSS-7s sent from a production facility at Yuanan, about 175 miles west of the provincial capital of Wuhan, to a second base opposite Taiwan at Xianyou.

A fourth missile shipment is expected to leave the Yuanan factory in the next few days for Yongan, said officials familiar with intelligence reports.

The officials also said the satellite photographs show the Chinese are expanding the Yuanan missile factory. The factory is part of a complex of production facilities known as the Sanjiang Missile Group.

"The construction indicates they're getting ready to increase production," said one official.

The intelligence reports come amid a Chinese government propaganda effort aimed at influencing the Bush administration to curb weapons sales to Taiwan. A decision on new arms deliveries is expected sometime next month.

Secretary of State Colin Powell told visiting Chinese Vice Prime Minister Qian Qichen last week that the buildup of missiles opposite Taiwan is destabilizing, the Associated Press reported.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment on intelligence reports of the latest missile shipments to Fujian.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley also would not comment, citing rules against commenting on intelligence matters.

Adm. Quigley said, however, that China's military modernization includes adding missiles to areas near Taiwan.

The modernization program is being closely monitored, he said.

The buildup of forces opposite Taiwan also will weigh in the administration's decision on arms sales to Taiwan, he said.

"This is something we watch very carefully and it is an element that goes into the decision-making process of meeting the legitimate defense needs of Taiwan," Adm. Quigley said in an interview.

Adm. Quigley said "it is no secret" China is improving its military "capabilities for reaching out to Taiwan."

The Bush administration is considering a request from Taiwan for about 30 different weapons systems, including four Aegis-equipped guided-missile destroyers, advanced Patriot missile-defense systems and air-launched missiles that home in on radar.

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report on the Taiwan Strait said that the Chinese military threat to Taiwan is growing and includes hundreds of short-range missiles deployed close to the coast. China also has purchased guided-missile destroyers, missiles and planes from Russia.

The report says that the Taiwanese military believes China's forces are working on developing a "quick-strike solution" by deploying missiles that would defeat the island before U.S. forces could arrive to defend it.

Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is obligated to prevent the forcible reunification of the island with the mainland, a formulation that is at odds with agreements with China that limit sales of advanced arms.

Al Santoli, a national security aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, said the ongoing missile deployments appear to be part of a Chinese government attempt to "test the mettle of the Bush administration."

"The Chinese are trying to see how far they can go in terms of their unprecedented military buildup, especially the ongoing deployments of missiles," Mr. Santoli said.

"If the administration should blink at this point, it will set a precedent for the possibility of conflict occurring in the Taiwan Strait sooner," he said.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military with the Jamestown Foundation, said the latest shipments may indicate the Chinese are adding missiles to two existing brigades of CSS-7s or are forming a third brigade.

"The Chinese missile threat is very quickly making the U.S. policy response obsolete," Mr. Fisher said. "Even the consideration of four Aegis ships have to be viewed as woefully insufficient to deter Beijing."

The Aegis is viewed by defense analysts as a base for a future missile defense system against short-range missiles. The system can track hundreds of targets at the same time and when fully developed will be able to guide missile interceptors to knock out enemy missiles.

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