Taiwan official leading missile production found dead

Published August 7, 2022
<p>Taipei: Honour guard members take part in a flag-raising ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on Saturday.—Reuters</p>

Taipei: Honour guard members take part in a flag-raising ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on Saturday.—Reuters

TAIPEI: The deputy head of Taiwan defence ministry’s research and development unit was found dead on Saturday morning in a hotel room, according to the official Central News Agency.

Ou Yang Li-hsing, deputy head of the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, was found dead in a hotel room in southern Taiwan on Saturday morning, CNA reported. It said authorities were looking into the cause of death.

Ou Yang was on a business trip to the southern county of Pingtung, CNA said, adding that he had assumed the post early this year to supervise various missile production projects.

The military-owned body is working to more than double its yearly missile production capacity to close to 500 this year, as the island boosts its combat power amid what it sees as China’s growing military threat.

Taiwan blockade

Beijing’s largest-ever exercises around Taiwan have offered key clues into its plans for a gruelling blockade in the event of a war to take the self-ruled island, and revealed an increasingly emboldened Chinese military, experts said.Mobilising fighter planes, helicopters and even warships, the drills aim to simulate a blockade of Taiwan and include practising an “attack on targets at sea”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

It is the first time Chinese exercises have taken place so close to Taiwan, with some of the drills happening less than 20 kilometres from the island’s coast.

Also unprecedented are Beijing’s drills on Taiwan’s eastern flank, a strategically vital area for supplies to the island’s military forces — as well as any potential American reinforcements. China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day take it, by force if necessary.

A “blockade scenario” was long speculated to be one of China’s preferred strategies were it to try and conquer the island, and this week’s drills have revealed how that might go down.

Such a besiegement would aim to prevent any entry or exit of commercial or military ships and aircraft. But it would also deny American forces stationed in the region access to the island.

The Chinese military “obviously has all the capabilities to impose such a blockade”, Song Zhongping, an independent Chinese military commentator, said.

“We already see during the current exercises that Taiwanese fighter jets and ships absolutely cannot take off or leave their ports.”

The Chinese military fired a dozen ballistic missiles on Thursday that hit various areas around Taiwan -- with some flying over the island, Beijing’s state broadcaster CCTV said on Friday.

According to Xinhua, Beijing has mobilised more than 100 planes and more than 10 frigates and destroyers — including the J-20 stealth fighter and a Type 055 destroyer, the crown jewels of China’s air and naval forces.

But beyond the big guns, these exercises make it possible to test and sharpen the level of coordination between the various army corps mobilised: land, sea, air and rocket forces, as well as strategic support, tasked with cyber warfare.

It is also a crucial test for the recently inaugurated Eastern Theatre of Operations of the Chinese army, created in 2016 and which oversees the country’s entire eastern maritime space — and therefore Taiwan.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022

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