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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

China deploys new ballistic missile opposite Taiwan: spy chief

Central News Agency

2011/05/26 19:19:15

By Kelven Huang and Sofia Wu

Taipei, May 26 (CNA) China has assembled a new military unit equipped with a new ballistic missile system opposite Taiwan, National Security Bureau (NSC) Director-General Tsai Der-sheng confirmed Thursday.

The country's intelligence chief, however, stopped short of revealing any details about the new unit or missile system, in his response to a question by ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang in the legislature's Foreign and Defense Committee.

Lin said information obtained from websites shows that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery Force seems to be in the midst of expanding its ballistic missile infrastructure opposite Taiwan.

"A ballistic missile unit seems to have been posted in Guangdong Province in southern China under the command of the PLA's Second Artillery Force," Lin said.

"Is it a newly created unit?" he asked Tsai.

In response, Tsai said, "the unit, carrying the code number 96166, is indeed a new unit."

It's probably a ballistic missile brigade, he added.

But Tsai would not go into any details about the newly deployed missile system. Instead, he said that over the past few years, the PLA has been stepping up its deployment of ballistics missiles opposite Taiwan, both in terms of quantity and quality.

According to an Internet report, China's Second Artillery 96166 unit is equipped with an anti-ship ballistic missile system.

Lin, a professor-turned-lawmaker who specializes in military matters, also asked Tsai whether the PLA had recently relocated a unit equipped with Dongfeng 21C ballistic missiles from Yunnan to Guangdong.

Tsai said he could not brief lawmakers on these matters because they were related to Taiwan's intelligence gathering capacity.

He agreed with Lin's views that China's continued expansion of its railway network had given it more flexibility in terms of missile deployment.

The extensive railway network has enabled China to transport its weapons swiftly to the coastal areas opposite Taiwan if necessary, according to Lin.

During Thursday's hearing, KMT Legislator Liu Shen-liang also asked Tsai whether the expanding civilian exchanges and transportation links across the Taiwan Strait had resulted in escalated espionage attempts by China against Taiwan.

Tsai confirmed that security authorities had indeed often detected Chinese intelligence agents visiting Taiwan under the guise of tourists or participants in cross-strait trade and cultural forums or other activities.

"We have kept close tabs on such activities and have never hesitated to take action to protect national security," Tsai said.

Several serious cases have been prosecuted and some others are still being examined and probed, he said.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since President Ma Ying-jeou assumed office in 2008. However, Beijing still refuses to renounce the possible use of force against the island, should Taiwan declare formal independence.

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