- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

China's buildup of short-range missiles near its southeastern coast is "threatening" to Taiwan and poses a danger to sea lanes and ports in the region, the Pentagon said yesterday.
"These missiles are clearly designed to project a threatening posture and to try and intimidate the people and the democratically elected government of Taiwan," said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis.
"We're monitoring China's force modernization opposite Taiwan very carefully, including the [Peoples Liberation Armys] growing arsenal of tactical ballistic missiles," he said.
Cmdr. Davis declined to comment directly on a report in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times that Beijing recently added new short-range missiles near Taiwan. "On specific intelligence, we're not going to comment," he said.
China's overall buildup of forces is less a worry than its military modernization effort near Taiwan, he said.
"The modernization itself doesn't bother us," Cmdr. Davis said. "China is a major regional power and it's appropriate that it has a military commensurate with its stature," he said.
"What is a concern to us are the things that raise tensions vis-a-vis Taiwan, in particular their missile deployments."
U.S. intelligence officials disclosed to The Times that China in the past three weeks moved some 20 additional CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles to a base at Yongan, within striking distance of Taiwan.
The missiles are regarded as destabilizing because their presence increases tensions and the danger that an incident could trigger a conflict.
In the past, the Pentagon has declined to comment on reports of threatening Chinese military activities or exercises.
The Chinese missile force near Taiwan has increased from fewer than 50 in 1997 to more than 350 today. The Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that the missile force of both CSS-6s and CSS-7s will grow to as many as 650 by 2005.
Cmdr. Davis said China's naval buildup also posed a threat to sea lanes used by Taiwan and the region.
"The other area of modernization that we are watching closely is their navy," Cmdr. Davis said. "We're watching closely for the potential impact of China's naval modernization on Taiwan's sea lanes of communication or access to its ports."
The naval buildup could threaten Taiwan's freedom of navigation, he said.
The Bush administration announced last year that it would supply Taiwan with up to eight diesel-electric submarines to bolster its defenses against China's growing military power. It also offered Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, but stopped short of offering more advanced Arleigh Burke-class warships, which included Aegis battle-management systems that could be used in future missile defenses.
China has purchased two Sovremenny-class destroyers from Russia that are equipped with SSN-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles, and recently has ordered two more.
In addition to missile deployments and ship purchases, China also has acquired advanced Su-27 and Su-30 warplanes and is building a new class of attack submarines.
Its strategic nuclear buildup includes two new long-range mobile missile systems and a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.


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