China has deployed an anti-ship ballistic missile near Taiwan to counterbalance US military presence in the region and prevent Washington from aiding Taipei during any potential conflict.

The deployment of the DF-21D, which is designed to take out US aircraft carriers, is a particular concern for Taiwan since it has no aircraft carriers of its own and relies on US forces to back it up against threats from the mainland, reports the Financial Times.

The Chinese army’s development of long-range and offensive capabilities also poses a great challenge to US forces in the region as Washington “rebalances” towards Asia in an apparent bid to contain Beijing’s rising military might.

The move increases the pressure on Taiwan to strengthen its own ability to deter threats from the mainland, which reflects Beijing’s hardline stance on the use of force as necessary for reunification despite improving cross-strait relations.

Luo Shou-he, a spokesman for Taiwan’s military, said the island “has continually strengthened the ability of self-defence to ensure the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait”.

Last week, Taiwan held its first large-scale live-fire military exercise which simulated a Chinese attack as President Ma Ying-jeou stressed “the lingering threat” from China.