Taipei: Taiwan has carried out its largest-ever missile exercise, less than a fortnight after China showed off advanced ballistic weaponry in a massive National Day parade, local media said Wednesday.
The missiles were launched on Tuesday from the secretive and tightly guarded Chiupeng base in southern Taiwan and could strike major Chinese cities, the United Daily News reported.
President Ma Ying-jeou, who has been criticized for being too friendly with China, was among the observers of the exercise, the paper said, citing a “reliable military source”.
The test came after China, which has vowed to take back Taiwan, celebrated 60 years of communist rule on October 1 by parading high-tech weapons including intercontinental ballistic missiles through the streets of Beijing.
Taiwan’s defence ministry declined to comment on the report, which was also carried by the Liberty Times, when contacted by AFP.
The missiles tested included the Hsiungfeng 2E, which has a range of around 600 kilometres (375 miles) and has not yet entered the military’s inventory, according to the Liberty Times.
The missile is intended for launch from both land and sea, and would be capable of striking airports and missile bases in southeast China, as well as cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, military experts say.
Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since Ma came to power in May last year, pledging to boost trade and allow in more Chinese tourists.
However, Beijing, which still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, has refused to renounce the use of force in dealing with Taiwan.
In his annual National Day address last week, Ma said Taiwan would “never ignore the other side’s military threat despite significant improvements in cross-Strait ties”.
China has targeted the island with more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, Taiwan’s defence ministry says.