China Assembles Missiles near Coast Facing Taiwan

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Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

China's military is deploying more short-range ballistic missiles near the coast opposite Taiwan, as tensions in the region are increasing over growing U.S. support for the island.

U.S. intelligence agencies tracked a shipment of some 20 CSS-7 short-range missiles to a missile base near the town of Yongan in Fujian province.

The missiles were delivered in the past two weeks and were identified by U.S. military intelligence, the officials said.

The shipment is part of a continuing Chinese missile buildup that has raised questions among senior defense officials about Beijing's announced commitment to seeking a peaceful resolution of its dispute with Taiwan.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in an interview with The Washington Times in August that the buildup of missiles near Taiwan has been steady and is destablizing.

Mr. Wolfowitz said the deployments are counter to China's announced policy of seeking a peaceful resolution of its dispute with Taiwan. "I don't see that building up your missiles is part of a fundamental policy of peaceful resolution," he said.

U.S. intelligence agencies now estimate that China has between 350 and 400 missiles deployed at several bases within firing range of Taiwan.

The missiles are considered destabilizing because their flight time is so short - they can reach their targets within minutes - and there is no defense.

Last year, the Bush administration deferred a decision on whether to sell advanced Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers to Taiwan in the hope that Beijing could be persuded to halt the missile buildup against Taiwan.

U.S. officials have said the new CSS-7s may lead to sales of the Aegis equipped warships to Taiwan.

China's government last month denied a U.S. warship access to Hong Kong after the Bush administration permitted Taiwan's defense minister to visit the United States to attend a defense conference in Florida.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said "The U.S. side has done a series of things that interfere with China's internal affairs and undermine China-U.S. relations."

China's government also was angered by disclosure of a secret U. …