Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 2 News List

New missile to be test-fired


The country is to test-fire a cruise missile which could hit the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai, it was reported yesterday, after Premier Yu Shyi-kun threatened to retaliate should China attack the island.

The military-controlled Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology plans to test-fire before year-end the weaponry refitted from the indigenous Hsiung Feng anti-ship missile, Taipei's Apple Daily said.

Mass production could begin in 2006, it said.

With a range of 900km, the missile could hit the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Nanjing.

If budget permits, the nation's military plans to produce six such cruise missiles each year at a cost of NT$100 million (US$2.94 million) apiece, the daily said.

The defense ministry declined to comment on the report.

The institute twice unsuccessfully test-fired the system last year, the daily said.

"Chungshan's research team found the problem was with the turbofan engine," it said, adding the researchers had tackled the problem.

The institute kicked off the weaponry development program in 2000, the daily said.

The report came a week after Premier Yu vowed to retaliate should China launch missile attacks against the island.

"You [China] have the capability to destroy me and Taiwan should have the capability to counter. You strike me with 100 missiles and I should at least strike back with 50," Yu had told a gathering of government officials.

"You strike Taipei and Kaohsiung and I shall strike Shanghai. This way Taiwan will be safe," he said.

Yu's remarks angered Beijing, which called it a "belligerent provocation" and a "clamor for war."

Defense Minister Lee Jye (李傑) Thursday told parliament China was likely to have 800 ballistic missiles targeting the island before the end of 2006 and pressed the case for a US$18 billion special defense budget.

Since pro-independence president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was re-elected in March, Beijing has stressed its long-standing vow to take Taiwan by force should it declare formal independence.

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