Taiwan likely to unveil missile that can hit China

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TAIPEI, Oct 3 (Reuters) Taiwan's military is likely to unveil a domestically developed cruise missile during next week's National Day parade that is capable of hitting targets in China, a Defence Ministry spokesman said today.

The military has been tighted-lipped about the controversial Hsiung Feng IIE surface-to-surface missile, designed to counter an attack by China.

The news comes amid heightened tension between democratically ruled Taiwan and China, which have lived in a state of military preparedness since 1949 when the Chinese Nationalist government lost a civil war to the Communists and fled to the island.

Analysts and military officers say the missiles would most likely target the 1,000-odd short-range cruise missiles Beijing has aimed at Taiwan and threatens to use if the island ever moves towards formal independence.

In recent years Taiwan media have carried reports of test-firings of the missile, which is believed to have a range of 1,000 km, putting Shanghai well within range.

But the Hsiung Feng (''Brave Wind'') IIE has never been publicly displayed and has yet to be deployed.

Major General Yu Sy-tue told Reuters by telephone that display of the missile ''Was probable, but not certain''.

A report in the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun yesterday quoted Parliament Speaker Wang Jin-pyng as saying the Hsiung Feng would be on display for the first time.

Taiwan annual national day celebrations on October 10 will feature the biggest display of military hardware and troops in recent years, including a fly-over by F-16 fighter jets and air-defence systems such as Patriot missiles.

In April the Defence Ministry hinted at the missile's development and potential deployment, saying it had carried out computer simulations of retaliatory strikes against targets in China with what it termed as ''tactical shore-based missiles''.

The ministry declined to give details, but analysts believe it was referring to the Hsiung Feng IIE, which is capable of carrying a 400-kilogram warhead.

During a simulated attack by China, the defence ministry said, Taiwan responded with the ground-based missiles, which were targeted at enemy airfields, missile launch sites, and observation and communication facilities.

President Chen Shui-bian has recently stoked tensions and angered the United States, the island's closest ally, by insisting on holding a referendum next year on applying to join the United Nations as ''Taiwan''.

Beijing would be bound to see such a move as a step towards declaring independence. To date, the island's formal title remains ''Republic of China'', the name of the former Chinese Nationalist government.

REUTERS SG DS1126

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