More information about a new airbase in China’s Fujian Province emerged over the weekend, with military intelligence sources saying the base appeared to be designed to bolster China’s claim to sovereignty over islets in the East China Sea.
Military sources said construction at Shuimen air base, located on a hilltop along the coast in Shuimen Township, was nearing completion. Satellite images of the airbase first emerged in 2009, with intelligence sources saying China had cleared a swathe of more than 2km at an altitude of 364m to make way for the airbase, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported over the weekend.
More recent satellite imagery of the area showed J-10 multirole combat aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) deployed at the base, with Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) being gradually introduced.
S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) batteries have also been spotted at the base, the report said. These could be part of the two battalions, or eight batteries, of more advanced S-300PMU1 systems ordered from Russia in 2001, a US$400 million deal that included 32 transporter erector launchers (TEL) and a total of 198 missiles. The missile batteries could also be HQ-9s, a Chinese derivative of the S-300.
The base is situated 246km from Taipei and 380km from the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), over which Taiwan, China and Japan claim sovereignty.
With an engagement range of up to 200km, the S-300PMU1 could threaten aircraft in or near Taiwan’s airspace while also providing protection to the airbase from approaching aircraft and ballistic targets.
The Taiwanese military said it was aware of the new airbase and had the situation under control.
Long-range early-warning systems on Taiwan proper, as well as air defense radar deployed on Dongyin Island (東引島), one of the small islands that make up the Matsu chain and where the Taiwanese military has deployed Tien Kung II SAMs, are capable of tracking aircraft at the base, military sources said.
Dongyin is about 70km from the airbase.
Military sources said aircraft taking off from Shuimen could reach the Diaoyutais within 12 minutes, improving China’s response time for various contingencies in the East China Sea, most especially over the contested islets and the Chunxiao oil fields (春曉氣田), which are also the object of a dispute between the three countries.
In related developments, China’s first aircraft carrier, the refurbished Varyag, embarked on its seventh sea trial in the Bohai Sea on Wednesday and is expected to conduct various tests at sea before returning to Dalian on Saturday. Chinese military officials have said the Varyag will enter service later this year.
Also last week, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) launched the first new Type 056 class missile corvette, with three others expected to be launched soon.
According to military analysts, the 1,400-1,700-tonne vessels will be introduced into the PLAN’s South China Fleet to strengthen China’s claims on disputed areas with Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam.
‘SMEAR CAMPAIGN’: The ‘Global Times’ accused the DPP of offering politicians in Somaliland bribes and promoting Taiwanese independence by funding US think tanks The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday denounced China’s Global Times for disseminating disinformation about Taiwan, after the Chinese state-run newspaper claimed that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been bribing Somaliland politicians. Taiwan in August last year inaugurated the Taiwan Representative Office in the Republic of Somaliland, which is the nation’s only representative office whose title uses just the name “Taiwan.” The East African country also established a representative office in Taipei, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations. The Chinese-language Global Times on Monday accused the DPP of offering Somaliland politicians and their families considerable bribes, citing anonymous sources. The International Cooperation
Phase 2 clinical trial results of the Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday were published on the Web site of The Lancet: Respiratory Medicine, in an early preview before publication. The study paves the way for other nations to issue emergency use authorizations or produce the Medigen vaccine, given The Lancet’s credibility as a highly respected medical journal with a rigorous peer-review process, Medigen’s international affairs director Lien Chia-en (連加恩) said. Lien said that the study is important as it proposes methods for converting international units for efficacy comparisons. The methods have been used for correlating the efficacy of hepatitis B
Ambassador Theaters on Tuesday announced that its Breeze Center cinemas in Taipei’s Songshan District (松山) would close late this month after screening thousands of major Hollywood movies and local favorites over two decades. Ambassador Theaters, one of the largest cinema chain operators in Taiwan, said that Oct. 25 would be the last day the Breeze Center cinemas screen movies, adding that its lease expires on that day. “We sincerely appreciate the support and recognition from audiences in Taipei over the past 20 years,” the company said. “We look forward to seeing you again in the future.” The cinemas started operating in 2001, upon
BUMPING AROUND: A total of 143 people sustained fall injuries at MRT stations or inside trains over eight months, with a majority caused by ‘distracted walking’ Taipei Rapid Transit Corp yesterday urged people to avoid looking at their phones when walking, saying 73 cases of “distracted walking injuries” had occurred in the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system from January to August. As the local COVID-19 situation has been brought under control, passenger traffic has been increasing, reaching about 1.5 million rides per day last month, the company said. However, many passengers have been looking at their phones as they walk through MRT stations, which can lead to collisions with other passengers or injury from falling down stairs. A total of 143 people sustained fall injuries at MRT stations