Taiwanese military and intelligence officers yesterday rejected claims by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde (陳炳德) that China did not have ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan in areas along the coast, adding that the missile threat facing Taiwan was increasing rather than decreasing.
“What the PLA [chief] said is far from the truth,” Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) told the legislature in response to claims by Chen, who is currently visiting the US as part of efforts to improve military ties with Washington.
What is deployed along China’s coast is mainly anti-aircraft artillery, while ballistic missiles are away from the coast and under cover, but within range of Taiwan, Kao said.
National Security Bureau (NSB) Director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝), who was also present at the meeting, said the number of ballistic missiles China has aimed at Taiwan continues to rise.
Beijing has not changed its longstanding position on the possible use of force to prevent Taiwan from declaring de jure independence and has refused to renounce that possibility to improve cross-strait relations, Tsai said.
“China is in no position to say whether the deployment of its ballistic missiles against Taiwan is a threat to Taiwanese,” Tsai said. “It’s how [we] feel about that. I don’t think any country in the world agrees that the missiles are not a threat to Taiwan.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said the general was “lying through his teeth.”
The Pentagon and Taiwan estimate that 1,400 ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan are deployed in Yongan, Fujian Province, Leping, Jiangxi Province, and Meizhou, Guangdong Province, Lin said.
Experts on the Chinese military put the total number of short and medium-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles targeting Taiwan at close to 1,900. As part of modernization efforts, older missiles have been replaced by more advanced and more accurate ones, and several now have longer ranges, faster re-entry speeds and countermeasures against the missile defense systems deployed by Taiwan.
Asked to assess the possibility of the US Congress rescinding the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), as suggested by Chen, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Thomas Hou (侯平福) said: “It would not be that easy, although some members of Congress, the Senate and the House support the move.”
“However, the majority of members of the Senate and the House support the TRA,” Hou said.
Additional reporting by staff writer