For the first time, Taiwanese Defence Minister Feng Shih-kuan said the island can strike in China targets, up to 1,500 km. Both sides start a military buildup. Trump is set to deliver new sophisticated weapons to Taiwan.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – The cross-straight war of words and sabre-rattling is getting louder. As voices calling for a military solution to bring it the rebel island by force are getting louder in mainland China, Taiwan openly admitted that it has missiles capable of striking Chinese cities.
In a report to parliament on Thursday, Taiwan's Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan was asked whether Taiwan was capable of launching missiles at mainland China. "Yes," he replied, noting that they can travel over 1,500 kilometres.
Until now, it was known that China had hundreds of missiles pointed at the island and that Taiwan could produce its own cruise missiles, but for the first time the Defence Ministry decided to provide details.
After China announced on 5 March a 7 per cent defence budget increase, Taiwan responded by announcing plans to boost its own defence spending.
Defence Minister Feng said that military expenditures next year would rise to 3 per cent of Taiwan's GDP, up from 2 per cent this year. The Ministry also announced plans to procure stealth fighter jets.
Feng’s report comes a few months after Tsai Ing-wen was elected president with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which backed independence in the past.
Because Tsai did not explicitly endorse the mainland’s ‘One China’ policy in her inaugural speech, , Beijing began to boycott cross-straight relations, communication and Taiwanese goods.
In 1992 Beijing and Taipei had agreed on a One-China policy with reunification as the ultimate goal but with each side free to envisage how it cold be achieved.
This agreement to disagree had fostered cross-straight trade relations, tourism, mail and maritime contacts. However, since Tsai’s victory, voices calling for reunification by force have grown in China.
“All those pro-independence moves will stimulate the mainland to take coercive steps to respond,” Li Yihu, dean of Peking University’s Taiwan Studies Institute, told the South China Morning Post, adding that “The voices have become louder”.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in his policy report at the opening of the National People’s Congress that Beijing would “absolutely not accept anyone separating Taiwan from China in any way, shape or form”.
In all probability, Li was referring to both Tsai Ing-wen and US president Donald Trump. Upon taking office, the US leader said that he would re-examine US attitudes towards the One-China policy, but later backed away.
Meanwhile, anonymous Taiwanese government officials said the Trump administration is ready to sell the island-nation sophisticated weapon systems to boost its defence, including tactical missiles designed to destroy electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems.