Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan will be able to track PRC missiles: MND

DEJA VU:Kao Hua-chu’s comment in the legislature followed a report that a Chang'e 2's second-phase booster rocket came down near where Chinese missiles fell in the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis

By Flora Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) yesterday assured lawmakers across party lines that the military would be able to track Chinese missiles or satellite rockets in motion after the nation’s NT$30 billion (US$967.4 million) long-range early warning radar system is completed.

Kao made the remarks in response to questioning from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liao Wan-ju (廖婉汝) on whether the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has the capability to monitor the trajectory of China’s missiles or satellite rockets.

Liao, head of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, raised her concerns after the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) yesterday quoted National Space Organization Systems Engineering Director Chen Yen-sen (陳彥升) as saying that a fireball in the sky over eastern Taiwan about 7pm on Oct. 1 was the discarded second-stage rocket of China’s Chang’e 2 satellite.

Chen was quoted as saying that the trajectory of the rocket was similar to that of China’s missiles falling off the east coast during the Taiwan Strait Crisis between July 1995 and March 1996.

Kao said the rocket and the missiles had different heights and trajectories, adding that the National Science Council had dismissed Chen’s speculation as his personal opinion rather than an official statement by the council.

In another question-and-answer session, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) also grilled defense officials over the matter.

Lee accused the ministry of refusing to make public that a Chinese rocket flew dangerously close to a location where China once lobbed rockets near Taiwan.

Lee pressed Kao by questioning whether the ministry had protested to Beijing for allowing the rocket to fly over Taiwanese airspace.

“If not, does this mean that Taiwan’s satellites or missile tests can fly over China’s airspace?” Lee asked.

Kao did not answer, but told Lee that he would tell him in private after the open session.

Kao’s response, however, prompted further criticism from Lee, who called the defense minister “irresponsible.”

At a separate setting, ministry officials said that given that the trajectory of China’s satellite Chang’e 2 was hundreds of kilometers above the earth, it generally does not consider it an intrusion of airspace.

The ministry said it therefore dismissed the launch of Chang’e 2 as a concern for Taiwan’s national security or as an intrusion of the nation’s airspace.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HSU SHAO-HSUAN AND VINCENT Y. CHAO

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