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China Aims 820 Missiles At Taiwan

A Chinese soldier struts past one of the countries many missiles. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) Jul 17, 2006
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian on Monday renewed his warning of China's growing military threat, saying it is now targeting the island with 820 missiles. Chen, during a meeting with a group of Japanese scholars attending a forum in Taipei, said he had expected China's peaceful rise and the development of democracy there.

"However, China military spending has increased at a double-digit rate since the Tiananmen event 17 years ago. This is by no means a way leading to peace," Chen said.

The People's Liberation Army has deployed 784 ballistic and 36 cruise missiles aimed at the island, he said, adding that the number of missiles is rising at the rate of 120 per year.

These could paralyse Taiwan's communications and transportation and command centers in a 10-hour bombardment, Taiwan's defense ministry says.

A Pentagon report has said China is building up its military at a pace that is tipping the balance against Taiwan and could pose a credible threat to other armies in the region.

Taiwan plans to stage a major military exercise Thursday to display its capability to fend off any invasion. Chen is expected to preside over the drill codenamed "Han Kuang 22" and involving at least 10,000 soldiers.

China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should it declare formal independence. It has regarded the self-governing island as part of its territory since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have escalated since the independence-leaning Chen was elected president in 2000. He was narrowly re-elected in 2004.

China crushed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 with the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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