A US newspaper is reporting that China earlier this month carried out a series of practice or “simulated” attacks targeting Taiwan.
“The tests included multiple firings of short and medium-range ballistic missiles as well as land-attack cruise missiles,” the Washington Times reported.
The report was written by national security journalist Bill Gertz, who has established a reputation for his intelligence community contacts. Gertz earlier broke news of China secretly testing Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).
The latest missile tests may actually have taken place while US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Beijing on Sept. 4.
Citing US officials, Gertz said Chinese military forces recently carried out a series of ballistic and cruise missile tests that “simulated salvos of attacks on Taiwan.”
US intelligence sources reached by the Taipei Times would neither confirm nor deny the report.
“The missile tests were monitored by US spy agencies which reported that the tests used capabilities designed to penetrate missile defenses and to hit hardened or protected targets,” Gertz said.
According to Gertz, China has between 1,000 and 1,600 DF-16 medium-range and DF-11 and DF-15 short-range missiles within range of Taiwan and recently deployed a new DH-10 land-attack cruise missile.
“The anti-Taiwan missile tests followed a series of long range flight tests of Chinese missiles that began in July, with the first test of a new road-mobile DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile,” Gertz said.
A US Department of State official said: “We are well aware of China’s extensive military modernization efforts and are monitoring them closely,” adding that “we remain concerned about the lack of transparency from China.”
Richard Fisher, a specialist on China’s military with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said: “The timing of this latest missile exercise with the arrival of the US Secretary of State seems consistent with the Chinese Communist Party leadership’s penchant for martial posturing.”
“[US] Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta got his share when China revealed its J-31 stealth fighter the day before his arrival. The dictators are playing for PLA [People’s Liberation Army] applause and may even think they are scaring the rest of us, but they are also demonstrating their insecurity and reminding us that their paper thin legitimacy makes them prone to violence,” he said.
Fisher said that with the latest report it was clear that China’s Second Artillery had undertaken an intensive missile demonstration and testing program this summer.
“We are already seeing an effort by the PLA to counter Taiwan’s new missile defenses with the deployment of longer range and faster DF-16 missiles that are much harder to shoot down,” Fisher said.