Taiwan Tests Missiles as Tensions Soar

Visit to Taiwan from US official set off increase in PLA flights

On Thursday, Taiwan began two days of missile tests and live-fired missiles from its eastern and southern coasts after days of Chinese military flights near the island.

The tests were held by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, a state-owned corporation that develops weapons. The institute did not comment on what type of missiles were tested. A retired institute official told Taiwanese media that the missiles were likely the Tien Kung-3, a short-range missile designed to intercept guided missiles from China.

Tensions between mainland China and Taipei have been high lately, due to increased military activity in the region and ever-warming ties between the US and Taiwan. The missile tests followed days of China’s People’s Liberation Army flying military aircraft near Taiwan’s airspace.

Some planes crossed the median line, an informal dividing line in the Taiwan strait that China usually avoids. Taiwan responded to these incursions by changing the wording of its rules of engagement.

“The military clearly redefined the contingency handling regulations concerning the first strike as our right to self-defense and counter-attack,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said.

The US Air Force has also been very active in the region. A think-tank that monitors flights in the region found instances of US spy planes disguised as Malaysian civilian aircraft and flying over sensitive areas, like the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

The PLA flights were set off by a visit to Taiwan from US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach, the second high-ranking US official to visit the island in recent weeks. US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited the island in August, making him the highest-level US official to visit Taiwan since Washington broke formal relations with Taipei in 1979.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.