Taiwan urged to build-up arms amid growing Chinese threat: US think-tank
TAIPEI (AFP) Mar 07, 2004
Taiwan must build up its missile defences to counter the growing military threat from China, a US military expert said here Sunday.

Richard Fisher, adjuct fellow of the US think-tank Center for Security Policy said Taiwan faced a growing challenge to maintain security against the fast-past growth of Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan across the Strait.

"The missile challenges and the requirements for Taiwan to invest in all manners on missile defenses are only becoming greater every day," said Fisher, who had been chief to the US Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center from

Fisher estimated that China has targeted Taiwan with at least 500 short-range ballistic missiles, with the number increasing at a speed of 75 a year.

"The large number of ballistic missiles China has deployed has made Taiwan's current missile defense strategy obsolete," he said.

"Taiwan must excelerate its pace of progress. I understand that may not be possible. There are political considerations and there are budgetary restraints. It is very difficult," Fisher added at a seminar.

The appeal came before Taiwan is to hold its landmark referendum at the same as the presidential polls on March 20, with voters being asked to support beefing up military defences and peace talks.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has defended the referendum which he insisted is a must to show Taiwan people's unity against the massive arsenals China has aimed at Taiwan.

The referendum plan has drawn ire from Beijing which perceives the plebiscite as another step by the island towards independence.

For its part, Taiwan should purchase Patriot PAC-II missiles even Chinese has too many missiles to match missile-for-missile.

"Taiwan must purchase PAC-III missiles because that's the only actively defense option for Taiwan. There is no other option. It must be pursued."

Currently Taiwan has deployed three batteries of PAC-II missiles to defend the densely populated greater Taipei area.

The DF-15 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan are "effective and well designed missiles developed with the challenges of of penetrating the Patriot PAC-II levels."

While urging Taiwan to conduct military reform, Fisher recommended Taiwan to work together with the United States to develop energy-based weaponry like laser and high-power microwave weapons.