- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2002

China's military is deploying more short-range ballistic missiles near the coast opposite Taiwan, as tensions in the region are increasing over growing U.S. support for the island.
U.S. intelligence agencies tracked a shipment of some 20 CSS-7 short-range missiles to a missile base near the town of Yongan in Fujian province.
The missiles were delivered in the past two weeks and were identified by U.S. military intelligence, the officials said.
The shipment is part of a continuing Chinese missile buildup that has raised questions among senior defense officials about Beijing's announced commitment to seeking a peaceful resolution of its dispute with Taiwan.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in an interview with The Washington Times in August that the buildup of missiles near Taiwan has been steady and is destablizing.
Mr. Wolfowitz said the deployments are counter to China's announced policy of seeking a peaceful resolution of its dispute with Taiwan. "I don't see that building up your missiles is part of a fundamental policy of peaceful resolution," he said.
U.S. intelligence agencies now estimate that China has between 350 and 400 missiles deployed at several bases within firing range of Taiwan.
The missiles are considered destabilizing because their flight time is so short they can reach their targets within minutes and there is no defense.
Last year, the Bush administration deferred a decision on whether to sell advanced Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers to Taiwan in the hope that Beijing could be persuded to halt the missile buildup against Taiwan.
U.S. officials have said the new CSS-7s may lead to sales of the Aegis equipped warships to Taiwan.
China's government last month denied a U.S. warship access to Hong Kong after the Bush administration permitted Taiwan's defense minister to visit the United States to attend a defense conference in Florida.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said "The U.S. side has done a series of things that interfere with China's internal affairs and undermine China-U.S. relations."
China's government also was angered by disclosure of a secret U.S. nuclear policy review that said nuclear weapons could be used against China if a conflict over Taiwan broke out.
Chinese press reports have indicated that Beijing's leaders may cancel the visit to the United States this month of Hu Jintao, the vice president who is viewed as the leading candidate to succeed current President Jiang Zemin in the coming months.
Asked about Mr. Hu's visit, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman would not answer directly but said: "Smooth and healthy development of China-U.S. relations will not be possible without proper handling of the Taiwan question by the U.S. side."
The Pentagon took steps to update its war plans to defend Taiwan last year after President Bush announced the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend the island from mainland attack.
Chinese missile deployments opposite Taiwan have been continuing at a rate of at least 50 new missiles per year, defense officials have said. Additionally, the Chinese are believed to be increasing the accuracy of the short-range missile force, the officials said.
Last year, missile activities near Taiwan were detected in March, May and August. The missile developments were first reported by The Washington Times.
CIA Director George J. Tenet told Congress last month that China is continuing to "upgrade and expand the conventional short-range ballistic missile force it has arrayed against Taiwan."
Adm. Dennis Blair, outgoing commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told the House Armed Services Committee that China could do "great damage" to Taiwan with its missiles.
"Where we are right now is that China is capable of causing a great deal of damage to Taiwan, damage that cannot be stopped by the Taiwanese armed forces or by forces of the United States, if they were ordered in," Adm. Blair said.
"And this is because of China's buildup of short-range ballistic missiles, which there are only small numbers of Patriots that can intercept. However, China is not now capable of taking and holding Taiwan and satisfying that goal of China."
Military stability "will depend on not only what China does, but what Taiwan does and what the United States does," Adm. Blair said.



Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide