Chinese armed forces are increasing their presence in the southeast coast of the country for a possible military invasion of Taiwan, according to defence observers cited by the South China Morning Post.
The development comes days after President Xi Jinping asked People’s Liberation Army troops to prepare for war during a visit to a military base in Guangdong province.
The Hong Kong-based newspaper quoted a source as saying: “The DF-17 hypersonic missile will gradually replace the old DF-11s and DF-15s that were deployed in the southeast region for decades.
“The new missile has a longer range and is able to hit targets more accurately.”
The DF-17 has a maximum range of 2,500km and made its first appearance in last year’s October 1 National Day parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic Of China.
Even though Taiwan has never been controlled by China’s ruling party, Chinese authorities insist the self-governing island is an integral part of its territory. Also, President Xi has refused to rule out military force to capture the island if necessary.
Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review said satellite images show both the Marine Corps and Rocket Force bases in Fujian and Guangdong have expanded.
The report further added: “Every rocket force brigade in Fujian and Guangdong is now fully equipped… The size of some of the missile bases in the Eastern and Southern theatre commands have even doubled in recent years, showing the PLA is stepping up preparations for a war targeting Taiwan.”
In recent years, Beijing has increased military drills around Taiwan, with nearly 40 Chinese warplanes crossing the median line between the mainland and Taiwan on September 18 and 19 — one of the several sorties the island President Tsai Ing-wen called a “threat of force”.