Those mourning the loss of this source of info are encouraged to head to the other blogs in the blogroll to fill their needs.
"China was producing around 50 Dong Feng [DF] series ballistic missiles annually, but ... our intelligence has found it is now increasing by 75 to 100 ballistic missiles annually," said Lieutentant Colonel Chen Chang-hwa, an intelligence analyst specializing in the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) missile development, at a press conference held by the [Ministry of National Defense] yesterday.I can't help but wonder if the "intelligence" the colonel is referring to is the Pentagon's 2005 China report which reached this same conclusion last July.*
Chen said if cruise missiles are included, China now has more than 800 missiles aimed at TaiwanUsing last year's Pentagon estimate (650-730 missiles) and predicted annual increase (75-120 missiles), China should have 725-850 missiles in a few months when the annual count is released. I'm not convinced that China reaching 800 now indicates any increase in production.
The PLA's ballistic missiles are now also more precise, according to Chen. They used to have a 600m margin of error, but that has been reduced to 50m, giving China the capability to more accurately hit Taiwan's power stations, radar bases, airstrips and military, economic and political nerve centers.I said in my last post that I wasn't aware of anyone attributing the reduced circular error probability (margin of error) of 50 meters to the entire missile force. I stand corrected. Either the colonel has just made this claim or the reporter extrapolated the characteristics of the most accurate missiles to the whole force carelessly. I'm not ruling out the former, but also recognize the possibility of the latter.
The balance of terror across the Taiwan strait[...] gives China the capacity to pulverise and close down the island but not yet to invade it.Readers of this blog (especially this post) know that China's ability to "pulverize" Taiwan is often overestimated, as it is in this article. I do, however, agree with his characterization of China's inability to invade.
China is capable of deploying several hundred transportable short- to medium-range ballistic missiles within a few daysWith the caveat that the number of missiles deployed does not equal the number of missiles hitting their targets, I would agree.
...which could take less than five minutes to reach targets in Taiwan...True, but not particularly relevant unless he is trying to claim that the launch sites are too close to Taiwan for Taiwan to mount an effective missile defense, an unlikely claim since it would take days to deploy them by his own estimate.
...each destroying an area of about half a city block.If you will pardon a Clintonian moment: That depends on what your definition of "destroy" is. Or "city block" for that matter. I won't quibble, but rather clarify this point. He assumes, as I did in my own analysis of China's missile threat, that a missile will destroy all within its blast radius--a reasonable assumption if the buildings are not hardened to protect against such a blast (as many military installations surely are) and partial destruction is good enough. The lethal radius of a CSS-6 or CSS-7 is approximately 60 meters if a conventional high-explosive warhead is used, as it likely would be if the target is an urban area (a nuclear blast would obviously be a completely different situation). A radius of 60m would cover an area of 11,309m (2.79 acres). According to Wikipedia, a city block can vary from one acre to ten, so it seems his assertion, if caveated with some reasonable assumptions, is certainly reasonable.
Leading strategic expert Hugh White, a professor at the Australian National University, said yesterday that China had overtly built up its capacity to between 600 and 700 missiles to make a political point - that it would not tolerate any move by Taiwan to declare itself independent.Reading political points into military build-ups isn't always safe, but I find this reasonable.
No missile defence system could stop them, because the numbers were so great, Professor White said. "And missile defence is a raw numbers game."The professor is correct that Taiwan will be not be able to stop every missile, especially since at present only the northern half of the island is protected by Patriot missiles (to the best of my knowledge). Taiwan can use its Patriots to attrit those incoming missiles, reducing their destructive capacity. Lets play the "raw numbers game." My calculations of the subject tell me that accounting for mechanical malfunctions (a modest 10%), missile defenses (50% as a ball park estimate, until Taiwan runs out of missiles), and strategic reserves (1/3 seems to be the rule), about 320 missiles will hit their targets.
"The number of Chinese missiles gives Beijing a lot of political and strategic flexibility," Professor White said. "It could, for instance, fire off 20 missiles and say, 'What do you think of that?' - leaving a lot of rounds in its locker.The problem with this is one of accuracy that is further elucidated in the following sentence:
And if China did decide it wanted to take even stronger action, it could target power stations and airstrips and ports and army barracks, and could stop Taiwan functioning for awhile."Taiwan probably wouldn't be overly intimidated by attempts to hit specific buildings, because they would either miss the target or be so inefficient as to demonstrate the missiles' impotence. With a circular error probability of 200-280 meters, it would take 44 CSS-6s or 23 CSS-7s to destroy a target with 75% certainty, which doesn't seem to be particularly intimidating to me. Using between one out of every 30 of your missiles (or 1/15 with the less accurate missiles) to have a three-in-four chance of destroying one building won't scare anyone into submission. If China has upgraded all of its missiles with GPS-guidance systems, a technology China is rumored to be deploying on its most advanced missiles (NOT all of them), China could reasonably expect to destroy 240 non-hardened targets with its 320 missiles that reach their targets or 461 targets if no missiles were held in reserve. Once again, not particularly devastating and certainly not enough to "stop Taiwan functioning."
China has expressed its concerns directly to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan about Taiwan's scrapping of a unification council with the mainland, Xinhua news agency reported.China's Ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, told the UN's leadership that Taiwan was threatening to destablize the "current peaceful situation."
China's direct approach to Annan and the United Nations comes despite its repeated insistence that the Taiwan issue is an internal affair and that it tolerates no interference from outside forces.
China will soon release statistics showing that it has passed Japan as the biggest holder of foreign currency the world has ever seen. Its reserves already exceed $800 billion and are on track to reach $1 trillion by the end of the year, up from just under $4 billion in 1989. But China has held a similar position before.Lest one should start to panic, remember that America receives more gain than pain from its trade with China.
Some called it a bombshell but it was only the bursting of a bubble. Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has recently caused quite a stir among the biased and uninformed by proposing to abolish the country's ineffective National Unification Council (NUC). The continued flap over the NUC and its guidelines highlights that most people know nothing about this outdated and ineffective organization, how the guidelines themselves contradict reality, and how the council comes from an era when the Kuomintang (KMT) wished to substitute its personal agenda for that of the people of Taiwan.
[Taiwan] got rid of a US$32 budget item, and managed to piss off the two most powerful nations in the world. What do have for it? Anything concrete? Maybe for an encore, Chen can personally call the heads of the Hong Kong triads and tell them their wives are ugly and their children are stupid too.
So does ‘cease to function’ mean that it’s been abolished? Or did it cease to function back in 2000? The answer to both these contradictary questions is probably ‘yes’. Perhaps Chen has decided that if the US is going to base their Taiwan-China policies on ’strategic ambiguity’, then there’s no reason why Taiwan can’t either.
Under The Four Noes and One Without, Chen pledged that, so long as China did not use military force against the island, he would not[...] Nullify either the National Reunification Council or the The Guidelines for National Reunification.
The majority of diplomats and Taiwan-experts in the US had regular contact with senior KMT officials and built up their relationship with the KMT. When the DPP took over power in 2000, the US suddenly found that their contacts weren’t in control, and they had to develop a whole new set of relationships.
China Confidential has learned that certain officials in Beijing are concerned about the ways in which Wal-Mart affects China's international image, especially in the United States, where the company has become synonymous with products--and, in the eyes of millions of Americans and many of their elected representatives--unemployment--made in China.
Pirate DVD shops might not normally be considered outposts of free expression, but they are among the many gaps in the great wall of propaganda, which is being breached by a motley crew of bloggers, copyright dodgers and curious consumers.
The motivation is purely business, but the effect is partly political. Much of the material for sale is officially prohibited because it contradicts the government line. Among many banned items on sale is Seven Years in Tibet, in which Brad Pitt plays a character sympathetic to the Dalai Lama; Devils at the Doorstep, a film about Japanese troops in a Chinese village that won the 2000 Grand Jury prize at Cannes; and Stanley Kwan's Lan Yu, set around the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement.
China must agree to discuss dismantling its missiles pointing at Taiwan before talks can be held, Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying-jeou said in comments aired Saturday by Taiwan's ETTV Station.
Some of the statements that Ma has been making would be impossible for CSB to make without getting accused of trying to block talks with China (Ma has also said that PRC would have to admit to and apologise for Tiananmen before any talks about unification).
We have full faith and confidence in our friends in Japan.Third, America should try to disaggregate the problems. On one hand, America should stay away from historical issues because of their sensitive and emotional nature. America wouldn't appreciate other countries meddling in the writing of its own history, after all. On the other hand, America has a clear role to play in working with Japan to improve crisis management and thus reducing the risk of unnecessary escalation.
China has come up repeatedly in congressional debate over the size of the Navy. The 288-ship fleet of today is half the size it was three decades ago. "You never want to broadcast to the world that something’s insufficient," [Senator John] Warner says, "but clearly China poses a challenge to the sizing of the U.S. Navy." 
China will have a net gain of 35 submarines over the next 15 years. 
It is unlikely that Russian advisers would be onboard [Russian-made Sovremnyi and Kilos] during actual combat operations against Taiwan and U.S. Navy air, surface and subsurface threats. PLAN officers and crew are not expected to be able to handle operations when under fire, sustaining hits and suffering system degradation or loss. I hadn't yet seen this argued. Provocative thought worthy of further study. That same article addresses China's "Aegis-like" systems.
A key potential issue for Congress in assessing the adequacy of the Navy’s ship force structure plan is whether it includes enough ships to address potential challenges posed by China’s naval modernization while also meeting other responsibilities, including maintaining forward deployments of Navy ships in the Persian Gulf/Indian Ocean region and the Mediterranean Sea and conducting less-frequent operations in other parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, the waters around South America, and the waters off West Africa. If increased numbers of Navy ships are needed to address potential challenges posed by China’s naval modernization, fewer ships might be available for meeting other responsibilities. He also addresses how many carriers, submarines, etc. the USN needs and how many of those should be forward-deployed in the Pacific.
The science lobby should also stop pretending that countries compete the same way companies do. Firms such as Toyota and Ford really do go head-to-head against each other; if Toyota has superior technology, it will steal Ford's customers -- and Ford may even disappear. But if China produces Nobel-quality science, it won't put the United States out of business; rather, Chinese discoveries will help American scientists discover more, too. Equally, Toyota doesn't sell cars to Ford workers, so there's no benefit to Ford's people if Toyota's quality advances. But China does sell to Americans, so whatever makes it more productive has some upside for the United States as well.