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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora