China deploys missiles to ‘step up intimidation against Taiwan’

China deploys missiles to ‘step up intimidation against Taiwan’
Military vehicles carrying DF-16 short-range ballistic missiles march past the Tiananmen Rostrum during the military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, China, Sept 3 2015. Photo: AP
Published: 4:00 AM, March 21, 2017

Taiwan’s Defence Minister confirmed yesterday that China has deployed highly accurate ballistic missiles that can launch precise strikes against the island, the official Central News Agency reported.

The medium-range DF-16 (picture) has been deployed by the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Rocket Force as the mainland steps up its military intimidation against Taiwan, Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan said.

He was speaking to the Foreign Affairs and National Defence Committee in the legislature.

The minister gave no further details of where the missiles were deployed. The DF-16 missile was publicly displayed at a Beijing military parade in 2015 and is believed to have a range of about 1,000km, putting it within striking distance of Taiwan, the Philippines and Okinawa in Japan, home to several American military installations.

It was featured in a video posted by China’s Defence Ministry last month, with the missiles on a 10-wheel transport vehicle being deployed in a forest during exercises over the Chinese New Year holiday period.

Mr Feng said the mainland has stepped up its combat capabilities and the modernisation of its weaponry since last year as the PLA revamps its military. Beijing has also increased the “intimidation” of Taiwan by staging six military exercises in the West Pacific, with its navy and air force passing areas around Taiwan, he said. These included sending the mainland’s sole aircraft carrier the Liaoning to carry out training exercises in waters to the east of Taiwan. But the Defence Minister also said Taiwan has advanced surveillance systems that can detect any unusual movements by Chinese forces. He said Taipei can fend off a DF-16 attack with the US-made PAC-3 system.

Cross-strait ties have been strained since the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took power in Taiwan in May last year.

Mainland China considers Taiwan a breakaway Chinese province and tries to deter any contacts between foreign dignitaries and the island’s government. AGENCIES