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Politics

China deploys new missile seen as 'Guam Express'

Beijing projects power as Washington strengthens ties with Taipei

Chinese Dongfeng-26 ballistic missiles roll past Tiananmen Gate during a September 2015 military parade in Beijing.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China has deployed ballistic missiles believed to be able to reach the American island of Guam, in what appears to be a show of force as the U.S. bolsters ties with Taiwan and drives a hard bargain on trade.

The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force commissioned new intermediate- to long-range missiles, China Central Television reported.

They strongly resemble the Dongfeng-26, the Communist Party's Global Times newspaper concluded based on the CCTV coverage.

The Dongfeng-26, nicknamed the "Guam Killer" and "Guam Express" by PLA watchers, made its public debut at a Chinese military parade in 2015 and has an estimated range of 3,000km to 4,000km. Firing it from the mainland would put the entire South China Sea and American military bases in Guam within reach. The missile can also hit maritime targets like aircraft carriers.

The Chinese have been showing off their military might of late. Last Thursday, President Xi Jinping reviewed forces including the Liaoning aircraft carrier and more than 10,000 personnel in the South China Sea -- in what was described as the biggest such event since the 1949 founding of the People's Republic of China.

On Wednesday, the PLA Navy conducts live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait. Maritime authorities have banned entry by ships into affected areas.

Nervous about American overtures to Taiwan, "Beijing is trying to show that it has no intention of budging an inch on Taiwanese and South China Sea matters," a Japanese defense policy source said.

Defense industry representatives from the U.S. and Taiwan will gather in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung next month for a business forum.

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