Taiwan Stages Missile Tests on Eve of U.S.- China Meeting


Regular Member
Jan 18, 2011
BEIJING — On the eve of a summit meeting between the presidents of China and the United States, Taiwan tested 19 missiles on Tuesday with mixed results.

Six of the 19 air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles missed their mark. Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, was at the drill and said he was unhappy with the results, urging the military to improve training. His presence and comments were an about-face for the leader, who previously has said that Taiwan faced more of a threat from natural disasters than China, with which he has been trying to improve ties.

"They've been under a lot of criticism over the past year or two of bumbling on defense issues, of placating China," said Wendell Minnick, a correspondent for the publication DefenseNews. "They're trying to show they're serious."

China, which claims Taiwan as a province, has hundreds of missiles aimed at the island and has been modernizing its military, mostly with hardware imported from Russia as well as its own technology. Last week, it tested what it said was an advanced stealth fighter, a plane at least a generation ahead of Taiwan's American-supplied air force.

The timing of the exercise — coming a day before President Barack Obama and Hu Jintao were due to meet for a summit in Washington — was widely seen as coincidental. Government officials in Taiwan said the dates for the exercise were set before the dates for Mr. Hu's trip were known. But the tests are a reminder that Taiwan remains a problem for relations between the two countries.

When the United States and China resumed diplomatic ties in the late 1970s, Washington promised to reduce military sales to Taiwan but Congress also passed a law requiring the government to aid Taiwan in its self-defense. Last year, the Obama administration said it would go through with a $6 billion sale of military hardware promised by the Bush administration. That prompted China to scale back defense ties between the two countries.

Those ties have now been resumed but analysts in Taiwan say it is likely to make further requests in the coming years — and can point at Tuesday's test as proof that it will need help if it is to keep a credible deterrent.


Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads