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Taiwan halts deploying missiles against China under US pressure

By dpa news     Sep 17, 2007 in Politics
Taiwan has suspended its plan to deploy missiles on an islet off China's southeast coast under pressure from the United States, a newspaper said on Monday.
The United Evening News (UEN) said Taiwan has been planning to deploy missiles on the Taiwan-held Matsu island off China's Fujian coast.
The Taiwan military allocated budget and sent missile experts to Matsu earlier this year to prepare for the deployment of land-to-land missiles, the paper said.
However, Taiwan's Defence Ministry has suspended the plan recently, allegedly because of pressure from the US, but will continue mass production of these missiles, the paper said.
Taiwan is seeking to boost its defences against China, but Taipei's military build-up is being monitored and checked by the US - Taiwan's close ally and also the mediator in Taipei-Beijing ties.
Taiwan-China ties have worsened in recent months as Taiwan has applied to join the United Nations under the name of "Taiwan" instead of its formal title "Republic of China (ROC)" and plans to hold a referendum on joining the UN in March 2008.
China sees both moves as a plot by Taiwan to change its title to seek formal separation from China, and has warned Taiwan that Beijing would see its holding of a referendum as a grave "Taiwan-independence incident" and would not sit idle.
In an apparent bid to send a clearer warning to Taiwan, China's coastal city Shanghai - which Taiwan has threatened to attack with missiles - held an air raid drill last Saturday as Taiwan held marches and rallies in two cities to demand the right to join the UN.
On Monday, China admitted that its warships had sailed to Taiwan's east coast - through the channel between Japan's Okinawa Island and the smaller Japanese islet of Miyako - for a military drill on the Pacific Ocean in late April and early May.
The Chinese naval manoeuvre was first reported by Japan's Ashi Shimbun on April 28, but China kept silent until Monday.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, two missile destroyers and two frigates from China's North Sea Fleet missiles left Shanghai on April 28 for the exercise and returned home on May 11.
Ping Ke-fu, editor-in-chief of the Toronto-based Kanwa Intelligence Review monthly, said the exercise had been intended as a warning to the US and Japan not to interfere if China attacks Taiwan.
The drill was also allowed the Chinese navy to become familiar with the sea and climate off Taiwan's east coast for a possible attack on Taiwan in future, Ping Ke-fu told Taiwan's Central News Agency in a recent interview. dpa dc bve
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