Monday, December 13, 2010

U.S. Not Helping Taiwan Produce Cruise Missiles

The United States has not provided any help to Taiwan in its bid to mass produce cruise missiles, a Pentagon spokesman said Dec. 10, as a Chinese military delegation held talks here.

Taiwan's Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang confirmed to parliament for the first time Dec. 8 that the island was mass-producing cruise missiles.

"Mass production of indigenous weapons like the ones under the code names of Chichun [Lance Hawk] and Chuifeng [Chasing Wind] is very smooth," Chao said.

Asked whether the United States had provided any assistance to the island in its program, Pentagon spokesman David Lapan said: "Don't believe so."

Chao declined to specify the range of the missiles or the number to be put into service.

The Chichun project refers to the Hsiungfeng 2E cruise missile, Taiwan's answer to the U.S.-made Tomahawk. Chuifeng is a project to develop the island's long-anticipated supersonic anti-ship missile.

At the start of the year, Beijing cut military contacts with Washington when the United States announced a $6 billion arms contract with Taiwan that set out the sale of missiles, helicopters and equipment for F-16 fighter jets.

But ties have resumed, and a Chinese military delegation led by Gen. Ma Xiaotian held talks at the Pentagon on Friday with Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy.

U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, has indicated that Pentagon chief Robert Gates will visit China next month in a sign of thawing in the strained ties between the countries' militaries.

Taiwanese experts estimate China's People's Liberation Army currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang came to power in 2008 on a platform of beefing up trade links and allowing more Chinese tourists to visit.

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