Taiwan deploys missiles on island off China: Jane's
TAIPEI (AFP) Jul 25, 2004
Taiwan has built a major missile and radar complex on an island off China aimed at restricting its rival's air force and naval capability in the Taiwan Strait, the authoritative Janes Defence Weekly says.

The report comes as both China and Taiwan conducted wargames amid fresh tensions between the arch foes, prompting the United States to call for restraint.

The new complex, located in Tungyin Island which is part of the Matsu group just 16 kilometers from the Chinese coast, includes two separate radars for the navy and army, according to the article to be published Wednesday.

The complex is armed with 100km-range (60 miles) Hsiung Feng 2 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missiles and Tien Kung 2 (Sky Bow) medium- to high-altitude surface-to-air missiles.

"These place several vital Chinese air bases, missile launch sites and naval facilities under Taiwan's missile umbrella," the London-based journal says.

Taipei has long held off from positioning missiles on Tungyin over concerns that this could violate a tacit agreement with Beijing over deploying missiles past the halfway point in the Taiwan Strait.

The policy appears to have changed following the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, when China lobbed ballistic missiles into waters off the island in order to influence Taiwanese elections, the weekly says.

However, Jane's did not say when the facility had been built.

The Tungyin facility appears aimed at restricting Chinese naval and air mobility at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait. A second facility on Penghu Island with the same missiles guards southern approaches to the waterway.

Having a radar so near China's only major base in Fujian province has the same effect as an having airborne radar, a US defense source said.

Since the March re-election of Taiwan's pro-independence president Chen Shui-bian, China has ratcheted up its rhetoric, reiterating its long-standing vow to take the island by force should Chen move it towards formal independence.

Beijing has considered Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.