The Taipei Times Wednesday, December 1st, 1999

MND plays down missile site report

CROSS-STRAIT STANDOFF: The defense ministry has clarified media speculation, saying China is just building up its arsenal, not constructing new missile sites

By Brian Hsu

Clarifying recent media specula-tion, the Ministry of National De-fense (MND) yesterday said that a suspected ballistic missile site China is reportedly building may be located either in Yongan (|w) or Nanping (n-) in Fujian province -- the same location from where the People's Liberation Army (PLA) fired missiles into seas off Taiwan during the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis.

Major General Chao Lien-ti (3s), assistant deputy chief of the general staff for information of the MND, said the ministry made the judgment on the basis of intelligence information it has gathered.

"The M-11 and M-9 ballistic missiles, though carried by mobile platforms, still need to be transported by railway for long trips. Yongan and Nanping have direct railway links with the headquarters of the 815th ballistic missile brigade of the PLA in Jiangxi Province's Leping (֥-). Troops in both places are under the 815th brigade command," Chao said. "It takes just three to four hours to transport missiles from Leping to Yongan via railway."

Chao said there are other possible sites in Fujian, but he emphasized that Yongan and Nanping are the two most likely locations.

"A Washington Times news report identified `Yangang' as the place of the new missile site it said China is building. The different place name might be the result of a different romanization system from that in use in China," Chao said.

Chao was referring to an article last week in the US newspaper that reported a massive buildup of missiles there, with the aim of deploying nearly 100 M-11 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan.

"If we judge from the range of the M-9 and M-11 missiles pointed at Taiwan, 600 and 300 kilometers respectively, we will find the only possibility for the reported missile site the PLA is building is in Fujian," Chao said.

He said that the military does not think a new full missile site is being built in Yongan or Nanping since evidence shows the PLA is just strengthening the missile arsenal in both places.

"Yongan and Nanping are just missile positions for the PLA. They had been used to fire missiles into seas off Taiwan during the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis but they are not ballistic missile bases yet," Chao said.

Major General Chung Shen-ling (1), assistant deputy chief of the general staff for operation of the MND, said the armed forces are making preparations for potential missile attacks by China in three directions.

"In the northern parts of the island, we have deployed three batteries of Patriot PAC-II air defense systems bought from the US," Chung said. "We will buy more Patriot PAC-III systems in the future to provide protection for central and southern parts of the island. We have also begun moving our military equipment and personnel offices into underground sites to reduce potential equipment and manpower loss in the event of a missile attack. We are also seeking to upgrade the detection capability of the domestically-made Sky Bow air defense system to reduce early warning time against missiles fired from China."

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