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Report: Taiwan plans Asia's largest missile base
(People's Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-08 11:44

A large bunker project is being constructed at Jiupeng missile test-launching ground by Zhongshan Scientific Research Institute under Taiwan's "Defense Ministry", which, after completion in next year, will be used to deploy "Patriot III" missile system purchased from the United States, Taiwan newspapers including China Times and United Daily News reported on October 27.

Jiupeng base, located in Pingdong of the island, has been a key area of missile research and test of Taiwan army, and is called the "Space Center Houston" of Taiwan. It has drawn wide attention as it is reportedly being expanded into Asia's biggest missile base, according to People's Daily Online.

Large bunker suspected to be a nuclear test ground

The arms research by the Zhongshan institute has drawn close attention from the United States due to Taiwan authority's frequent remarks of developing offensive arms against the mainland as well as You His-kun ("president of the Administrative Yuan")'s advocating of the so-called "balance of terror", local media quoted "informed personages" as saying.

US intelligence satellite noticed recently that a large structure by reinforced concrete is being built at Jiupeng base belonged to Zhongshan institute. From its unusual thickness, the US side predicted it is a bunker able to resist heavy bombs. It is suspected the bunker is built for "special purpose", which may be related to Taiwan's alleged research of medium-range missiles and cruise missile, or even nuclear weapons. US experts say such a large-capacity, anti-explosion structure may be used to store high-risk objects such as warhead, missile, missile-propelling rocket and fuel, or to finally assemble such dangerous objects to avoid damaging other facilities in case of accidental explosions.

High-ranking military officials from Taiwan made no comment on the ongoing construction, and firmly rejected the conjectures of "nuclear test ground" or "missile base".

A "Space Center Houston" in Taiwan

Formally put into operation in 1975, Jiupeng Base is called one of the "three mysterious units" of Taiwan military for their potential of developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons (the other two are "Preventive Medicine Research Institute" and Nuclear Energy Research Institute). After 1990, the base was updated to possess R&D functions, and it will further become a missile base after the bunker construction this time.

After decades of development, Jiupeng Base gathers all the island's secrets in high-precision observation, calculation, missile guidance, research and development, and is the island's sole camp of test missile launch and important long-range projecting system tests. As Taiwan military boasted, the whole base is a small "space center" and its controlling center is no less than a "Space Center Houston" in a smaller scale.

Closely guarding against intelligence satellites of world countries

For its special location and purposes, Jiupeng Base had been kept highly confidential until recent years. Even scientific or intelligence services from the United States or France are unable to conduct satellite monitoring on the base at all times. According to a commander of the base, from 10:12 to around 11:00 every morning, many intelligence satellites will gather right over the base, at that time testing staff of the base will be ordered to "shut down" their computers or devices.

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