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Taiwan Test-Fires Cruise Missile Capable Of Striking China

File photo of a Hsiung-feng (Brave Wind) class cruise missile.
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) March 06, 2007
Taiwan has test-fired a cruise missile capable of hitting rival China, it was reported Tuesday, amid fresh tensions across the region. The Hsiung-feng 2E (Brave Wind) cruise missile, currently capable of a range of 600 kilometres (360 miles), was test-fired at the southern Chiupeng missile base on February 2, the United Daily News reported, citing a military source.

The missile could be fired from land bases, airplanes or warships and has the ability to hit Shanghai or Hong Kong, the paper said, and its range could be increased to 1,000 kilometres. The defence ministry declined to comment on the report.

The report comes as tensions across the Taiwan straight have risen after President Chen Shui-bian pledged to push for independence and a new constitution earlier this week.

Chen told the pro-independence group Formosan Association for Public Affairs Sunday: "I want to say this again, 'four wants, one no'. That is, Taiwan wants independence, Taiwan wants to change its name, Taiwan wants a new constitution, Taiwan wants development."

"There is no such problem as left and right in the path of development but there is only the problem of independence and reunification," said Chen.

Chen, defence minister Lee Jye and another senior politician from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) witnessed the missile test, the report said without identifying sources.

"Some DPP legislators said they believe the (missile) deterrent had given President Chen confidence in saying 'four wants, one no,'" the report said, without naming sources.

Chen's comments appeared to mark a shift in policy that is certain to irk China -- which regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary -- and also drew criticism from the United States, wary of the risk of conflict.

Su Shuyan, a Chinese military representative in parliament, told reporters at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress: "We absolutely won't allow Taiwan to break away from China ... if Chen follows up his words with action, the People's Liberation Army can't just ignore it."

Washington called Chen's latest pledge to push for independence "unhelpful" and reiterated its stance against independence for the island.

Taiwan has produced three prototypes of a cruise missile which could be used to strike the east coast of China, Jane's Defence Weekly has said.

In an article in 2006, the authoritative weekly said Taiwan plans to produce 50 of the Hsiung Feng 2E missiles before 2010 and up to 500 after 2010.

China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should it declare formal independence, prompting the island to seek more advanced weaponry to defend itself.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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