Despite efforts by the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to lower tensions in the Taiwan Strait, the Chinese military continues to build up its missile threat against its neighbor, according to recent reports of modernization efforts at missile bases in China’s Fujian Province.
Reports late last month said recent US spy satellite imagery had uncovered what appeared to be evidence of new missile launch pads in Fujian Province, including in Xianyou in the province’s southeast, directly -opposite Taiwan.
However, according to the latest issue of British defense magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly, the imagery was likely evidence of modernization of an old People’s Liberation Army (PLA) missile brigade under direct control of the Nanjing Military Region rather than new missile bases.
Military analysts suspect that command of the ground support missile brigade at Xianyou, which became operational in 1993, was recently shifted to the Second Artillery Corps, which oversees China’s conventional and nuclear ballistic missile forces.
Prior to falling under control of the Second Artillery’s 52 Base, the missile brigade around Xianyou comprised about 100 Dong Feng 11 (DF-11) short-range (300km) ballistic missiles (SRBM).
As part of ongoing modernization efforts, those missiles are now believed to be in the process of being replaced by the more modern 600km-range DF-11As, Jane’s said.
The DF-11 is a solid-fuel, road-mobile SRBM carried on transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles.
In earlier reports, Kanwa Asia Defense Review claimed that along with new equipment, the base may also have been given a new mission, Jane’s reported.
The Second Artillery’s main ballistic missile base in Fujian, 817 Brigade, is located in Yongan City. Six brigades of DF-11As are believed to be based there.
The brigades at Xianyou and Yongan are part of the PLA’s ballistic missile force, estimated at 1,500 missiles, targeted at Taiwan, an arsenal that includes medium-range DF-15s and DF-16s, as well as hundreds of cruise missiles.
Commenting on the imagery, Kanwa Asia Defense Review claimed that two of the new launch pads were constructed in northern Fujian, with one located 100km northwest of Fuzhou, less than 260km from Taipei.
At least two launch pads have also been detected on mountaintops in the Huashuang area, about 270km from Taipei. Yet another launch pad has been spotted 209km from Taipei, which the magazine said was also built prior to 2007 and is now under the control of No. 820 artillery brigade based in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province.
However, Gary Li, an intelligence analyst at UK-based Exclusive Analysis, said that without closer analysis of the imagery, it was impossible to rule out the possibility that some of the so-called launch pads seen around Fujian were fake TELs — which the PLA has reportedly been fielding in increasing numbers to deceive satellites — or long-range multiple rocket launchers such as the PHL-03s used by the army.
Commenting on the reports, local military experts said China had also strengthened its ability to protect its ballistic missiles with air-defense systems.
Ministry of National Defense spokesman David Lo (羅紹和) said the ministry has stepped up its monitoring of China’s military deployments and movements and would work out response strategies to protect national security.
The reports come amid news that three Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) surface-to-air missile defense units acquired by Taiwan in the late 1990s were recently returned to Taiwan after being upgraded to PAC-3 configuration in the US.
Additional reporting by CNA
‘ASSERTIVE STEPS’: The report says that the US should enable Taiwan to construct asymmetric defense capabilities that would allow it to engage China on its own terms US President Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday declassified a report that casts the defense of Taiwan as critical to the Indo-Pacific strategy of checking China’s ascent, Bloomberg reported yesterday. “US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” has governed the US’ strategic response to China since Trump approved it in February 2018, Bloomberg reported, citing a statement by US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. “Beijing is increasingly pressuring Indo-Pacific nations to subordinate their freedom and sovereignty to a ‘common destiny’ envisioned by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP],” O’Brien was cited as saying. The report assumes that China would “take increasingly assertive steps to compel unification
SECRET OUT: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung yesterday accidentally revealed that the infections occurred at the ministry’s Taoyuan General Hospital The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the fifth COVID-19 case in a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital, where four other medical workers were confirmed to have been infected over the past week. The latest case is a nurse who had tested negative on Tuesday last week, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told a news conference. However, on Thursday, she developed symptoms, such as nasal congestion and a cough, and a second test yesterday found that she was infected, Chen said. She is the head nurse of a ward where two
PILLARS OF DEMOCRACY: US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft posted online after the virtual meeting that Taiwan should be able to share its successes in global venues President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft yesterday held a virtual meeting, during which Tsai described Taiwan as a “force for good” that deserves a place on the world stage, while Craft reaffirmed Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. The virtual talk was held at about 11am, after Craft’s trip to Taiwan was abruptly canceled. She had been scheduled to meet with Tsai in person at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday morning as part of a three-day visit to Taiwan. On Tuesday, the US Department of State canceled all of its planned trips, citing a need
‘CONTAINED’: The CECC is not considering locking down the hospital where the infections were detected, as their source has been found, Chen Shih-chung said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported one new domestic COVID-19 case, a doctor at a hospital in northern Taiwan where three other medical workers were confirmed to have the disease over the past week. The new case — No. 856 — is a doctor who had treated a COVID-19 patient together with case No. 838, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. Case No. 838, confirmed as a locally infected COVID-19 case on Tuesday, was the first case in the hospital cluster, and later infected his partner, who is a nurse at the same