TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan's program to develop missiles capable of hitting Chinese cities could be hampered because of U.S. objections, an analyst said on Saturday.
Defense experts have noted that Taiwan is clandestinely developing cruise missiles with a range of up to 620 miles that could hit Shanghai, the financial capital of China.
Taiwan tested the long-range Hsiungfeng 2E missile earlier this year, according to recent Taiwanese media reports.
But Wang Kao-cheng, a defense analyst, said the U.S. could pull the plug on the missile program by withholding sophisticated satellite guidance technology from the Taiwanese military. Without the provision of the technology, the program could founder, he said.
"The U.S. has objected to Taiwan developing mid- to long-range missiles, fearing it could embolden the island's authorities to take more provocative policies toward China," said Wang, professor of strategic studies of Tamkang University.
The U.S. could further cut back on its weapons supply to Taiwan as tensions rise across the Taiwan Strait over President Chen Shui-bian's perceived attempts to push for Taiwanese independence, Wang said.
Defense experts say Taiwan is developing the long-range missiles to counter the mainland's aggressive military buildup in recent years. Taiwanese leaders say China has deployed some 900 missiles targeting the island off its eastern coasts.
Taiwanese officials say the island is only developing a tactical shore-based missile restricted to hitting Chinese airfields and radar stations. The missile will be used in counterattacks against China's ballistic missiles, they say.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing continues to regard the self-governing island as part of its territory and has threatened to attack if it makes its de facto independence permanent.