Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taiwan Missile Can Reach Beijing

Taiwan has developed a missile capable of reaching Beijing and tested it successfully three years ago, a report said April 27, citing a former defense minister.

Taiwan's military successfully fired the medium-range missile in early 2008 in a secret test attended by then President Chen Shui-bian, said former Defense Minister Michael Tsai in memoirs released this week.

Tsai did not specify the range of the missile but the United Daily News said April 27 it was capable of reaching major Chinese cities including Beijing, Chengdu and Shenyang with a 2,000-kilometer (1,250-mile) range.

The newspaper said Tsai is the first official to confirm the island has developed the technology, though local media have previously reported that Taiwan possessed mid-range missile capabilities.

Stephen Young, Washington's then-de facto envoy to Taipei, had expressed concerns over the test, but Tsai assured him that Taiwan would not initiate any attack, the former minister said in the book.

The Chinese military was prepared to go to war should the Beijing-friendly candidate Ma Ying-jeou lose the 2008 president election, Tsai wrote, citing Taiwan and U.S. intelligence.

Tensions with China mounted during Chen's 2000-08 rule over policies promoting Taiwan's independence from the mainland but have eased significantly since Ma became president in May 2008.

But China still refuses to renounce the use of force against Taiwan should it declare formal independence, prompting the island to seek more defensive weapons.

The island has governed itself since it split from the mainland in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

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