Source AP ©

US could stop Taiwan developing missiles aimed at China

The U.S. objections could prevent Taiwan's program to develop missiles capable of hitting major Chinese cities, a defense analyst said on Saturday.

Defense experts have noted that Taiwan is clandestinely developing cruise missiles with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) that could hit Shanghai, the financial capital of China.

Taiwan tested the long-range Hsiungfeng 2E missile early this year, according to recent Taiwanese media reports.

But Wang Kao-cheng, a defense analyst, said the U.S. could pull the plug on the missile program by withholding sophisticated satellite guidance technology from the Taiwanese military. The program could founder without the technology, he said.

"The U.S. has objected to Taiwan developing mid- to long-range missiles, fearing it could embolden the island's authorities to take more provocative policies toward China," said Wang, professor of strategic studies of Tamkang University.

The U.S. could further cut back on its weapons supply to Taiwan as tensions rise across the Taiwan Strait over President Chen Shui-bian's perceived attempts to push for Taiwanese independence, Wang said.

Defense experts say Taiwan is developing the long-range missiles to counter the mainland's aggressive military buildup in recent years. Taiwanese leaders say China has deployed 900 missiles targeting Taiwan.

Taiwanese officials say the island is only developing a tactical shore-based missile restricted to hitting Chinese airfields and radar stations. The missile would be used in counterattacks against China's ballistic missiles, they say.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing continues to regard the self-governing island as part of its territory and has threatened to attack if Taiwan makes its de facto independence permanent.

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