Wed, Oct 29, 2008 - Page 1 News List

US trying to block Taiwan missiles: ‘Defense News’

By Richard Hazeldine  /  STAFF REPORTER

Washington is blocking the delivery of crucial parts Taiwan needs to produce its home-grown cruise missiles — a vital part of the nation’s armory that could help repel an invasion by China — in what a former US defense official said was a bid to placate China, the latest edition of Defense News said.

The story said the US State Department has refused for more than a year to release parts to the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology — the military-run research organization that develops the nation’s weapons — in the hope that this will block production of the Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) II-E land-attack cruise missile.

Taiwanese officials have met with their US counterparts twice to try to remedy the situation, but to no avail, Defense News said.

Problems have arisen because the missile, which is capable of striking many of China’s larger cities, is classified by the US State Department as an “offensive weapon” and therefore not covered by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which only allows for US provision of weapons of a defensive nature.

Washington has been under pressure from China to put a halt to the missile project, according to sources quoted in the story.

“If China barks, the State Department jumps,” one former official was quoted as saying.

The news comes immediately after reports on Monday that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) recently ordered the production of 300 Hsiung Feng missiles. The Ministry of National Defense refused to confirm this.

If the US ban is confirmed, the production plans for the 300 missiles appear to be in jeopardy.

Michael Wang (王高成), director of the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University, said: “If the story is true, it would fit with the US’ current China policy.”

The US wants to avoid any escalation in the cross-strait relationship, Wang added, which would be consistent with its TRA commitments.

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