News / Asia

    Taiwan Develops Advanced Missiles

    Taiwan's Hsiung Feng III missile is displayed during Taiwan's national day parade in Taipei. Taiwan rolled out its top military weaponry a move seen aimed at stirring China and boosting nationalist fervor, (File)
    Taiwan's Hsiung Feng III missile is displayed during Taiwan's national day parade in Taipei. Taiwan rolled out its top military weaponry a move seen aimed at stirring China and boosting nationalist fervor, (File)
    Ralph Jennings

    This year Taiwan started to deploy supersonic anti-ship missiles in response to China’s growing naval arsenal. Those third generation Hsiung Feng missiles that are now positioned on some 20 ships point to a strengthening in Taiwan’s normally low-key domestic missile production. But its military might is growing at a time when relations with Beijing are better than ever.

    Taiwan develops advanced weaponary

    Weapons production is all but natural for the island that long ago mastered high-technology for commercial aims as diverse as machine tools and semiconductors. During the past 30 years, Taiwanese military researchers have developed anti-ship, surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles as well as an indigenous defense fighters and more commonplace sea mines and torpedoes. Analysts say the quality is steadily increasing.

    In March this year, the military test fired domestic and U.S.-made missiles at the Chiu Peng Test Range in a remote coastal area of southern Taiwan. Despite some misses during the test, it says 70 to 90 percent of its missiles are in good shape, including those made here on the island.

    Preparing to fend off attacks

    Some 160 kilometers away from the coast is China, Taiwan’s would-be target ever since Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost the Chinese civil war of the 1940s and fled to Taiwan. China’s Communists still claim sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan today and have not renounced the threat of force if Taiwan moves toward formal independence.

    Beijing spends about $92 billion, 10 times more than Taiwan, per year on its quickly modernizing military and is considered far ahead in terms of fire power. Taiwan officials complain that Beijing is always adding to its arsenal of an estimated 1,900 missiles aimed at the island.

    Taiwan military officials will not give a budget for homegrown arms, calling it a state secret. But a defense spokesman said the budget for acquiring U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets would decrease in 2012. Nathan Liu, a military relations scholar at Taiwan’s Mingchuan University, Taiwan's own weapons have the firepower to fend off an attack but the government may not have the budget to mount a strong defense.

    Budget challenges

    “In terms of technology and capability, I think Taiwan has that kind of capability, but we don’t have enough of a budget. Because of the limit of budget, so we couldn’t produce (a large) enough number of missiles. So if we don’t have enough number of missiles, which means that we can’t launch any meaningful attack, so it really doesn’t make too much sense,” said Liu.

    China still warily watches the island’s military production. Earlier this year official Chinese media reported that a Taiwanese multiple rocket launcher was deployed on an outlying island near China but later taken offline. The subject of the third-generation Hsiung Feng missiles, which can travel at twice the speed of sound with a range of 130 kilometers, appeared on a Chinese news forum. Beijing could become more alarmed if Taiwan pursues widely reported plans to build a long-range ballistic missile dubbed the Hsiung Feng-2E with a 400-kilogram warhead.

    Strategic, economic relationship with China

    Apart from their military maneuvering, Taiwan’s relations with China have improved markedly since 2008. Nationalist Party President Ma Ying-jeou has increased trade dialogue with Beijing, which is eager to reunify with Taiwan through peaceful means.

    Raymond Wu, managing partner with the political risk consultancy e-telligence in Taipei, says homegrown weapons are still popular across party lines.

    "Despite the tremendous progress in cross-Strait economic relations during the past three years, I think the issue of national security is still very, very important for the majority in Taiwan. So given the fact that there is a lot of support within Taiwan for strong national defense then there's the need for the government, for the military forces to continue to upgrade military preparedness and also the weapons capabilities," stated Wu.

    Wu says the arms industry is also seen among the Taiwanese public as a way to secure more power at the bargaining table with China in economic and other issues. But he says the support is also because the island’s historic top arms supplier, the United States, in recent years has been more reluctant to sell heavy weapons.

    US weapons in Taiwan

    “Given the fact that the trilateral relations between United States, China and Taiwan is a delicate balance, the sale of U.S. weapons to Taiwan has always been ultra-sensitive. Therefore there is the continued need for Taiwan to upgrade our self-defense forces and capabilities,” said Wu.

    Although they have sold arms to Taiwan for decades, U.S. officials risk upsetting their uneasy strategic and economic relationship with China with new weapon sales. In January 2010 Beijing fumed and suspended military exchanges after Washington approved a $6.4 billion arms package to Taiwan. Since last year, U.S. diplomats in Taipei have said they would broadly evaluate Taiwan’s defense needs, possibly deciding against new hardware.

    A spokesman for the island’s National Ministry of Defense said Taiwan needs its own weapons to ensure timely production. But he stopped short of saying the United States, its main arms supplier, is too slow in processing the island’s requests for U.S.-made weapons. Taipei is still urging Washington to approve the sale of as many as 66 F-16 jets, and members of the U.S. Congress are stepping up pressure on President Barack Obama to approve the order.


    You May Like

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora