Sun, Dec 12, 2010 - Page 3 News List

US denies helping Taiwanese cruise missile program

AFP, WASHINGTON

The US has not provided any help to Taiwan in its bid to mass produce cruise missiles, a Pentagon spokesman said on Friday, as a Chinese military delegation held talks in Washington.

Deputy Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) confirmed to the legislature for the first time on Wednesday that Taiwan was mass-producing cruise missiles.

“Mass production of indigenous weapons like the ones under the codenames of ‘Chichun’ [Lance Hawk] and ‘Chuifeng’ [Chasing Wind] is going very smoothly,” Chao said.

Asked whether the US had provided any assistance to Taiwan in its program, Pentagon spokesman David Lapan said: “Don’t believe so.”

NO SPECIFICS

Chao declined to specify the range of the missiles or the number to be put into service.

However, the Chichun project refers to the Hsiung Feng IIE cruise missile, Taiwan’s answer to the US-made Tomahawk. Chuifeng is a project to develop the nation’s long-anticipated supersonic anti-ship missile.

At the start of the year, Beijing cut military contacts with Washington when the US announced a US$6 billion arms contract with Taiwan that set out the sale of missiles, helicopters and equipment for F-16 fighter jets.

RESUMED TIES

However, ties have resumed, and a Chinese military delegation led by General Ma Xiaotian (馬曉天) held talks at the Pentagon with Michele Flournoy, the US undersecretary of defense for policy.

The top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, has indicated that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will visit China next month in a sign of thawing in the strained ties between the countries’ militaries.

Taiwanese experts estimate China’s People’s Liberation Army currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the nation.

Although cross-strait ties have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was elected in 2008 on a promise to boost cross-strait trade and tourism, tensions remain and the most prominent symbol of the lingering hostility is the high number of Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER

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