Satellite images suggest Taiwan has positioned an advanced land-attack cruise missile capable of targeting Hong Kong and other targets along the southeast coast of China’s mainland, as a deterrent amid rising tensions, experts have claimed. The Canada-based Kanwa Defense Review has posted on its Facebook page satellite images taken in March that it said showed Taiwan’s home-produced Hsiung Feng IIE land-attack cruise missile had been sent to a base in Taoyuan city, about 50km west of Taipei. That would place it 250km from Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian province on the mainland. “The deployment started in March, which means the Taiwanese military is able to carry out in-depth strategic strikes against [the mainland],” said Andrei Chang, the monthly magazine’s editor-in-chief. Chang said the cruise missile, with a mid-range strike distance of between 1,000 and 1,500km, would be capable of making precision strikes targeting key cities such as Hong Kong and Shanghai and provinces such as Guangdong and Zhejiang, if armed conflict were to flare up between the mainland and Taiwan. “Based on its range, all nuclear power plant reactors, state strategic oil reserve facilities near Zhoushan [in eastern China’s Zhejiang province], and the Beijing-Kowloon Railway and other high-speed railways and tunnels would be targeted,” Chang said. Taiwan’s defence ministry declined to make any comments on the Hsiung Feng IIE deployment, saying any reports about the missile were “all speculation by media”. “The Republic of China has full confidence and is well-prepared to defend its territory from invasion,” said defence ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi, referring to Taiwan by its official name. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen wants US$11 billion defence budget as Beijing threat grows On Monday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she was seeking to increase next year’s defence budget by 5.6 per cent to NT$346 billion (US$11.3 billion), as tensions with the mainland rise. It is almost 20 years since the last Taiwan Strait crisis in the mid-1990s, when the People’s Liberation Army conducted missile tests near the waters around Taiwan. Taipei claims that since the 1990s crisis Beijing has deployed more than 1,500 short-range and mid-range missiles targeting Taiwan from the coastal areas of southeastern China. However, Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based missile expert and former member of the PLA’s then Second Artillery Corps, said Beijing had already taken precautionary measures to protect its strategically valuable cities and regions. China’s new J-16 advanced fighter jet ‘targeting Taiwan’ may soon be combat ready Song said the Hsiung Feng IIE cruise missile, developed by Taiwan’s National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), bears many similarities to the US Tomahawk long-range subsonic cruise missile. “But the missile is still an inferior version of the Tomahawks,” said Song, now a military commentator for Phoenix TV, a Chinese-language channel. “The PLA’s missile defence systems is able to intercept the Tomahawk, so the Hsiung Feng IIE is not a big deal, because now the mainland’s defence system has also expanded from land-based to also ship-based. We need more subs, says Taiwan, as it aims to bolster its naval defences in face of Beijing’s increasing belligerence “On the other hand, the deployment of Hsiung Feng IIE was already under close watch by the PLA’s Rocket Force [formerly the Second Artillery Corps].” He said the exposure of Hsiung Feng IIE, one of the Taiwanese military’s few “killer weapons”, would help the PLA to come up with more counter measures to cope with it. “I think Taipei can only use this weapon as a deterrent and a political card by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, not as an actual military weapon to target the mainland,” Song said. Pentagon defends US warships in the Taiwan Strait, shrugs at China’s outcry “The PLA would be able to intercept it, so it would be impossible for Hsiung Feng IIE to hit Hong Kong or other important areas on the mainland.” Earlier this week, Taiwanese media cited an official source saying that the NCSIST had successfully developed the Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missile, capable of hitting the mainland’s southern coastal bases. Song said Wan Chien’s strike accuracy is lower than that of the Hsiung Feng IIE missiles.