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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Taiwan To Fire Up Missile Programme As Tsai Puts Focus On Asymmetric Warfare Against Mainland China

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwan is expected to step up the development of missiles able to strike mainland China in the face of growing military threats by Beijing.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen vowed during her inaugural speech on Wednesday to bolster the self-ruled island’s defences by emphasising the development of asymmetrical warfare, apparently foreseeing bumpy cross-strait ties in her next four years in office.

In asymmetrical warfare, one side uses non-traditional weapons against a more powerful enemy. Analysts said a boost to Taiwan’s missile programme would mean the island could brace for the mainland’s first advance before the United States came to its rescue.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

“Weapons listed in this [asymmetrical warfare] category include missiles, torpedoes, unmanned aerial and navy drones and cyberweaponry. But missiles are by far the most effective to strike and intimidate the enemy,” said Chieh Chung, senior researcher of national security at Taipei-based National Policy Foundation, a think tank of the opposition Kuomintang party.

He said it was not surprising that Taiwan wanted to step up its missile development programme to ensure it had the necessary ability to strike should a cross-strait conflict erupt, given that the mainland’s People’s Liberation Army was a much bigger power and Taiwan had a limited military budget to stage an arms race with Beijing.

In his annual government work report on Friday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for the resolute rejection of separatist activities seeking Taiwan’s independence and a deepening of ties across the Taiwan Strait towards the goal of peaceful reunification.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its sovereign territory awaiting reunification with the mainland, by force if necessary. It has suspended official exchanges with Taiwan and staged numerous war games close to the island to try to force Tsai to accept the one-China principle, which she has rejected since first being elected as president in 2016.

Beijing has also warned other countries against supplying arms to Taiwan, making it difficult for the island to acquire weapons.

Taiwan’s National Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology – known as the cradle of the island’s missile development – has worked with the military since the 1970s to develop short and medium-range missiles.

In an inspection of the institute in January, Tsai asked the defence ministry and the institute to accelerate plans for mass production of the improved version of the Tien Kung-3 and the supersonic Hsiung Feng-3 missiles to bolster Taiwan’s defensive capabilities.

Last month, the institute test-fired missiles, including the Tien Kung-3 and a land-attack missile capable of striking targets on the mainland.

According to local news media, the Tien Kung-3 surface-to-air missile and medium-range Yun Feng land-attack cruise missile were tested between April 5 and April 23 at the Jiupeng military base in Pingtung, the southernmost part of Taiwan.

The institute declined to comment on the tests, but last month made public the testing dates while warning ships and planes against approaching the announced firing zone.

Local news media said the latest version of the ship-based Tien Kung-3 was test-fired on April 9-10.

Its development was first revealed by legislators during a budget review session in 2014. The missile was listed as one of the 10 indigenous arms development items in the NT$7.02 billion (US$233 million) Chiang Kung – or Enhanced Bow – project. It is expected to go into mass production next year, according to the local Liberty Times.

[ By Yahoo News / SCMP ]

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