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China Missile Deployments Over Taiwan Up Last Year, says Pentagon Report - 2003-07-10

A new Pentagon report will reveal China has dramatically increased the number of short-range missiles it has deployed opposite Taiwan over the past year.

The Voice of America has learned a new Pentagon report on Chinese military power will disclose a dramatic increase in the number of short-range ballistic missiles Beijing has positioned to strike Taiwan.

The report is due to be submitted to Congress shortly. But defense sources, on condition of anonymity, provided VOA with details of its contents.

The highlight, according to the sources, is the revelation that China now has 450 short-range missiles opposite Taiwan - an increase of 100 such missiles over the number cited in last year's Pentagon report on China.

That report projected China would only add to its arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles at a rate of about 50 missiles a year. The new report revises that production rate upward to about 75 a year.

The Pentagon has in the past said China's military modernization effort, including its missile program, is casting a shadow over Beijing's declared preference for resolving differences with Taiwan through peaceful means.

At the same time, defense officials have also said Taiwan's ability to defend against ballistic missiles is negligible.

With that in mind, Pentagon sources say the new report is likely to be coupled with a fresh push to convince officials in Taiwan to purchase the latest U.S.-made Patriot anti-missile system, known as PAC-3.

These sources say U.S. officials are also likely to press authorities in Taiwan to focus on hardening military command, control and communications links against possible missile strikes.

Last year's Pentagon report on China's military power said a surprise missile and air strike on Taiwan most likely would severely damage most of Taiwan's combat aircraft and degrade both its air defenses and command, control, communications and intelligence systems.