TAIPEI, Oct 19 – China now has about 1,500 missiles pointed at Taiwan, with no signs that the build-up is about to stop anytime soon, a spokesman for the island’s government said on Monday.
The figure includes short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, the defence ministry spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"The number of missiles has been rising. We don’t know when it will stop increasing," said the spokesman.
He was speaking ahead of the release Tuesday of the ministry’s annual report, which will include an updated estimate of China’s military capabilities.
In its National Defence Report for 2008, the Taiwan government estimated that China had deployed 1,300 missiles in the area near the island.
China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing considers the island part of its territory and has vowed to take it back, by force if necessary.
Relations have improved dramatically since the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou took office in Taiwan a year ago.
The two sides have held three rounds of negotiations that resulted in regular direct flights, an easing of investment restrictions and a boost in tourism.
However, the missiles remain a major obstacle to improved relations, Ma has said repeatedly.
"I have said many times in the past, before and after my inauguration, that if we are to negotiate a peace agreement with the mainland including military confidence-building measures, they should remove or dismantle the more than 1,000 missiles targeting Taiwan," Ma said in May.