Taiwan ramps up training after deadly missile gaffe

After a missile was fired accidentally last month, Taiwan defence minister said all units in charge of 'precision weapons' will complete the new training by August 15. (Representative image) Photograph:( Getty )

AFP Taipei, Taiwan Jul 13, 2016, 12.46 PM (IST)
Taiwan today said it was ramping up defence training and guidelines after a missile was accidentally launched towards China, killing one person and triggering a stern response from Beijing.

The Hsiung-feng III (Brave Wind) missile flew about 75 kilometres (45 miles) before hitting a trawler earlier this month in waters off Penghu, a Taiwanese-administered island group in the Taiwan Strait. It killed the boat`s skipper and injured three crew on board.

The accident came at a time of deteriorating ties between the island and China, which insists self-ruling Taiwan is part of its territory even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war. It has not ruled out using force to bring about reunification.

The navy said the staff sergeant who launched the missile had mistakenly chosen "war mode" and "missile loading mode" during the practice drill.

"The incident caused a death and endangered ties with the mainland," Taiwan defence minister Feng Shih-kuan said in a statement posted today on social media.

"It also raised international concerns and upset the morale and honour of the military."

Feng said all units in charge of "precision weapons" must complete the new training by August 15.

The measures also call for improved operating guidelines to be implemented and a disciplinary code for relevant units.

Zhang Zhihjun, the head of China`s Taiwan affairs office in Beijing, issued a warning in response to the accidental launch.

"At a time when the mainland repeatedly stressed it wants to sustain peaceful development of cross-strait ties...I felt the influence from the event could be very severe," he said.

Beijing mistrusts President Tsai Ing-Wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party replaced the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party in government at the start of the year, and has warned her against any attempt at a breakaway.