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. Taiwan too weak to match Chinese missile threat: analysts
BEIJING (AFP) Sep 27, 2004
Chinese analysts Monday shrugged off a warning by Taiwan of massive retaliation to any Chinese missile attack, saying the island simply did not have the military capability.

Responding to robust weekend comments by Taiwan Premier Yu Shyi-kun, in which he promised to engage China in a "balance of terror", the analysts described the threats as bluster.

"Taiwan won't be able to guarantee its security through an arms race or a balance of terror," said Wu Nengyuan, head of Taiwan studies at the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences in southeast China.

"We can't even talk about a threat from Taiwan, since it simply doesn't have the means to use military might," he said.

He was speaking two days after Taiwan Premier Yu told a gathering of government officials the island off the southeast Chinese coast should have the capability to launch a retaliatory missile attack against China.

"You strike me with 100 missiles and I should at least strike back with 50," he said. "You strike Taipei and Kaohsiung and I shall strike Shanghai. This way Taiwan will be safe."

Taiwan has been ruled separately from mainland China for over 50 years, but Beijing still claims the island as part of its territory and repeatedly threatens to use military force to prevent Taiwanese independence. The United States says China is building up missiles along its southeast coast to intimidate Taiwan.

The Taiwanese premier was turning the facts upside down, according to Li Jiaquan, a former head of Taiwan research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the nation's top government think tank.

"The talk about a 'balance of terror' is pure nonsense, in essence it's a threat against the motherland," he was quoted as saying by the state-run China News Service.

"The ones really engaging in terror are the proponents of 'Taiwan independence' who, in order to promote their own ends, don't hesitate to force the Taiwan people to take part in threats against the mainland."

Taiwan opposition leader Lien Chan, who has run unsuccessfully for the island's presidency twice, criticised the premier's remarks, saying they could further fuel tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

In Beijing, the Cabinet-level Taiwan Affairs Office declined to comment on Yu's statement.

The day after the Taiwan premier argued for a more aggressive missile strategy, Taiwan's media suggested the island was preparing to put real action behind the words.

The Liberty Times reported Sunday that Taiwan had developed and tested several types of missiles with ranges of up to 300 kilometers (190 miles).

If fired from vessels in the Taiwan Strait, or even from the island itself, that would put them well within range of population centers along the mainland's economically vital east coast.

One of the weapon types mentioned by the paper -- the Hsiung-Feng 2E -- has previously been described in unconfirmed media reports as an upgraded version of an existing anti-ship missile.

China's 2.3-million-strong armed forces are a formidable foe for Taiwan's military with its manpower of just 370,000 active soldiers.

Even so, the issue of how Taiwan could improve its ability to deter a Chinese attack has come up for discussion more than once.

Earlier this year, the US Defense Department issued a report saying Taiwan could plan for an attack on China's massive Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River, without explicitly stating if it was for or against such a strategy.

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