Though cross-strait tensions have diminished slightly, China has never given up the threat of using force against Taiwan, nor has it relaxed its military preparations. Since 2007, the military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait has increased. It is forecast that by 2020, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will be able to send its forces to the area between the first and second island chains and decisively engage Taiwan in large-scale warfare with victory assured.
In the past, the government invested in expensive modern weapons systems to maintain air superiority and sea control as well as command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems and information and electronic warfare systems in the hope that the country would be able to defend itself after a first strike from China. However, Taiwan’s weapons have become less competitive.
If the country were attacked by China, its combat capabilities would gradually deteriorate and China would then invade with modern weapons and massive numbers of lower-quality aircraft, warships and artillery.
Taiwan would not be able to respond. If the government were to focus on shore and trench warfare, it would lower the willingness of democratic allies to extend support. Taiwan would quickly lose air supremacy and control of the sea, public morale could collapse and the war would be fought on Taiwan proper.
Not only should the government strive to upgrade its modern aircraft, warship, anti-ballistic missiles and C4ISR systems, but its core combat capabilities should also be based on sustainable and asymmetric warfare. Its land, sea and air forces, missiles and information and electronic warfare must have strong resistance capabilities and be equipped with multi-layered offensive and defensive capabilities to expand surveillance, early warning, offensive and defensive capabilities.
The government should develop pre-emptive capabilities for conducting information and electronic warfare, anti-ballistic missiles, counter-landing shore warfare capabilities and sustainable capabilities to defend the capital — that is, “strategic defense and tactical offense” and “strategic sustainability and tactical speed.”
Taiwan is strong in the information and electronics industry, so it should be possible to build adequate pre-emptive information and electronic warfare capabilities. Now that the modernized PLA is relying heavily on information and electronic equipment with the rapidly growing economy along the southeastern coast of China, Taiwan could emulate the enemy and employ “soft-kill” measures to paralyze, interfere with, extinguish and confuse their financial, communication, electronic and power systems in major cities.
Taiwan should develop tactical long-range missiles with high accuracy so that China will have to increase its investment in homeland defense at normal times and thus slow down development of its offensive capabilities. Chinese threats against Taiwan would then be indirectly alleviated. During wartime, Taiwan could adopt tactics to suppress and diminish the strength of the PLA both tangibly and intangibly.
China’s plan to invade Taiwan could be thwarted, the sending of reinforcements could be delayed and warfare coordination could be damaged. The pressure on Taiwan to defend itself on its own soil would thus be alleviated.