Taiwan has test-fired a locally made air-defense missile, one day after President Chen Shui-bian called for a resumption of talks with Beijing.
Members of the press were invited to join Taiwan's president in witnessing the medium-range surface-to-air missile test at Taiwan's top secret testing facility in the southeast of the island. One medium-range Sky Bow II missile and three U.S.-made Hawk missiles were fired. All hit their targets. The Sky Bow II is an indigenous weapon system with radar developed from U.S. technology transferred in the 1980's.
Taiwan's Sky Bow and U.S.-manufactured Patriot missiles are considered key to Taiwan's air defenses. The government in Taiwan has repeatedly complained about China's deployment of M-class missiles along its southeast coast, citing them as a major threat to Taiwan's security. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, and Beijing has repeatedly refused to rule out of the use of military force to bring Taiwan to the negotiating table or to counter any declaration of Taiwan independence.
President Chen Shui-bian expressed satisfaction with the test and stressed that Taiwan's primary goal was to build a sufficient air defense, not to engage in an arms buildup with Beijing.
U.S.-made Patriot missiles are currently deployed in urban areas of northern Taiwan, and plans call for implementing a second Patriot-missile command further south within two-years. An official at the agency that developed the Sky Bow missile expressed the hope that Taiwan can eventually use the indigenous weapon in place of U.S. Patriots. China has protested Taiwan's requests for more of the U.S. made weapons.