China is sending additional shipments of short-range missiles to Fujian province opposite Taiwan, a sign Beijing is stepping up deployments as the Bush administration contemplates new arms sales to the island.
U.S. intelligence officials told The Washington Times that the latest shipment of CSS-7 missiles was photographed by a spy satellite in the past two weeks as being aboard a train from a factory in central China to a CSS-7 base at Yongan.
The shipment followed two earlier trainloads of CSS-7s sent from a production facility at Yuanan, about 175 miles west of the provincial capital of Wuhan, to a second base opposite Taiwan at Xianyou.
A fourth missile shipment is expected to leave the Yuanan factory in the next few days for Yongan, said officials familiar with intelligence reports.
The officials also said the satellite photographs show the Chinese are expanding the Yuanan missile factory. The factory is part of a complex of production facilities known as the Sanjiang Missile Group.
"The construction indicates they're getting ready to increase production," said one official.
The intelligence reports come amid a Chinese government propaganda effort aimed at influencing the Bush administration to curb weapons sales to Taiwan. A decision on new arms deliveries is expected sometime next month.
Secretary of State Colin Powell told visiting Chinese Vice Prime Minister Qian Qichen last week that the buildup of missiles opposite Taiwan is destabilizing, the Associated Press reported.
A CIA spokesman declined to comment on intelligence reports of the latest missile shipments to Fujian.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley also would not comment, citing rules against commenting on intelligence matters.
Adm. Quigley said, however, that China's military modernization includes adding missiles to areas near Taiwan.
The modernization program is being closely monitored, he said.
The buildup of forces opposite Taiwan also will weigh in the administration's decision on arms sales to Taiwan, he said.
"This is something we watch very carefully and it is an element that goes into the decision-making process of meeting the legitimate defense needs of Taiwan," Adm. Quigley said in an interview. …