Taiwanese authorities were silent on the orbiter's launch but the island's military experts say the launch is significant. 'It is a leap forward for the mainland as far as the space programme is concerned,' said Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, secretary general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taipei. Professor Yang, a military expert and political analyst, said Beijing's ability to launch Chang'e I reflected the fact that it had developed more advanced space technology, which would help it improve its control of space and boost its guidance systems in the future. Militarily, he said such a development would enable Beijing to acquire the capability of 'launching precision strikes in the future', which was something worth noting. Alexander Wang Chieh-cheng, professor of strategic studies and director of the Graduate Institute of American Studies of Tamkang University, said the development of high-orbit technology not only made China a peer to other countries like the US, Japan and Russia in terms of the space race, but gave it an ace. 'It will allow China to have an extra bargaining chip in dealing with other countries on peace diplomacy,' said the strategist, a former vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, which charts the island's cross-strait policy. Asked if such a development would have any military impact on Taiwan, Professor Wang said there was no need for Beijing to use the high-orbit rocket to deal with the island as it had plenty of low-end weapons, such as close to 1,000 missiles deployed just across the strait. 'The impact would be indirect,' Professor Wang said. 'It would make the US more cautious in dealing with cross-strait disputes mindful of the space vehicle developed by the mainland,' he said. Washington, an informal ally and Taiwan's biggest arms supplier, has adopted a policy that would see it come to the aid of the island in the event of a cross-strait war provoked by Beijing. Professor Yang said Taiwan was falling far behind in terms of developing its space technology. 'Taiwan does not have the infrastructure,' he said, adding the island also lacked the necessary technology to develop its space programme that could match that of the mainland. National Science Council head Chen Chien-jen revealed in a legislature session yesterday that his council was developing its own launcher, hoping Taiwan could launch its own satellite by 2010 with its own facilities.