Thu, Jul 13, 2006 - Page 3 News List

US experts support Taiwan developing ballistic missiles

CHINA THREAT Two think tank experts told a panel discussion that the US would have a hard time defending Taiwan in case Beijing attacks

By Nadia Tsao  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Two US defense experts on Tuesday expressed support for Taiwan to develop offensive missile capabilities at a panel held to discuss China's growing missile force.

According to Richard Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a Washington-based think tank, the US would face serious difficulties in defending Taiwan in the event of a missile attack by China.

The sheer number of Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan has tipped the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait, Fisher said, adding that he supports Taiwan's efforts to develop its own offensive missile capabilities.

Fisher, whose research focuses on Chinese weapons systems, made the remarks at a panel discussion hosted by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, entitled "China's Growing Missile Force: What It Means for the Strategic Balance in Asia."

He was joined on the panel by Daryl Kimball, from the Arms Control Association, who is also an expert on the Chinese military.

Both men agreed that given the number of Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan now exceeds 800, the deployment of US AEGIS-equipped destroyers in the Taiwan Strait would probably not be enough to defend Taiwan against a Chinese missile attack.

Once China attacks Taiwan, the US would not necessarily have enough time to deploy an aircraft carrier and destroyers, Fisher said.

He proposed that the US provide Taiwan with energy-directed weapons to minimize the damage of a first-wave attack on Taiwan by China.

Another option would be to support Taiwan in its efforts to develop indigenous cruise and ballistic missiles, he said.

Such missiles, according to Fisher, would allow Taiwan to wage asymmetric warfare against China, thus deterring China from attacking.

Kimball said that it would be impossible for the US and Taiwan to defend against a Chinese missile attack.

He supported President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) proposal for Taiwan and China to conduct bilateral negotiations on arms reduction and a freezing of Chinese missile deployments in the Strait region.

Evan Medeiros, a RAND Corp analyst, told the panel discussion that China's growing missile force is not just a threat to Taiwan, but to Japan and US military bases in the region as well.

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