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Taiwan Pushes Back on U.S. Pressure to Do More on Missile Defense

Taiwanese troops aim at airborne targets in an April 2012 exercise at the Hsinchu airbase. A senior Taiwanese diplomat on Thursday said his government is feeling pressured by Washington to cooperate more on missile defense. Taiwanese troops aim at airborne targets in an April 2012 exercise at the Hsinchu airbase. A senior Taiwanese diplomat on Thursday said his government is feeling pressured by Washington to cooperate more on missile defense. (Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images)

Taiwan on Thursday said it was coming under strong lobbying from Washington to expand its radar capabilities to allow for deeper peering into China.

Senior Taiwanese diplomatic officials during a visit to Washington indicated that Taipei could be more amenable to U.S. urgings to share more technical antimissile data if the United States was to permit more exports of major U.S. weapon systems, the Washington Times reported.

Dale Wen-Chieh Jieh, who leads the Taiwanese foreign affairs ministry's policy planning office, said there are currently between two and four "long-range early-warning radars" in place along Taiwan's western coastline.

The particular radar the United States is interested in is an early warning radar deployed not far from Hsinchu City on the island nation's west coast facing China, Defense News reported last month. According to Chinese military expert Mark Stokes, the Raytheon-manufactured radar has the ability to simultaneously monitor up to 1,000 targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles as well as fighter planes.

The radar was activated last year. It was previously reported that Taiwan would not regularly share data collected by the system with the United States.

Jieh told the Times there was strong local opposition to erecting additional radar installations that are seen to be more beneficial to the United States than to Taiwan. "President Ma [Ying-jeou] has been enduring so much domestic pressure, questioning, 'Why do you need these long-range radar towers detecting the long-range missiles of mainland China that won't target Taiwan but target some other countries?'" the diplomat said.

Even with this domestic pressure, Jieh said Taipei has "been very affirmative in helping the U.S. set up these radar towers."

Kwei-Bo Huang, secretary general of the Taiwanese Association of Foreign Relations, suggested that a quid-pro-quo was in order: "If the U.S. continues to sell pre-warning radars to Taiwan, we need something we can see, for example, something in the air, F-22, F-35 or submarines, that enhances our national defense capability."

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