According to research by leading US defense think tanks the National Bureau of Asian Research, the Rand Corporation and the American Enterprise Institute, even though the military balance across the Taiwan Strait is tilted toward China, Taiwan has built a pragmatic defense strategy and matches it with clear and wise political choices. Beijing will have to carefully evaluate the cost and negative political consequences of a military invasion.
Based on Taiwan’s unique strategic environment, the three think tanks proposed eight key points to bolster its defense strategy.
First, develop an “all-out defense” to unite the public, build capability to respond to threats and intimidation from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and expand military cooperation with the US.
Second, maintain constructive relationships with Washington and Beijing by balancing friendly relations with the US and peaceful ties with China.
Third, develop a dialogue mechanism to prevent war, as well as disaster prevention, and rescue and humanitarian relief capabilities.
Fourth, bolster Taiwan’s role in the global information technology (IT) industry supply chain and form an interdependent IT alliance with world powers to deter the CCP’s military threats.
Fifth, plan a “four-circle strategy” to boost overall military power and determination, increasing the likely cost of a Chinese invasion to deter Beijing from any rash military moves.
Sixth, plan for a force preservation strategy to enhance the capability to deter China from launching an attack.
Seventh, improve communication competence among officers to coordinate operations with the US military.
Eighth, respond to the rising threat of cyberinformation and psychological warfare, and promote a partnership with the US Cyber Command to give full play to Taiwan’s advantage in terms of psychological and cyberwarfare, improving the value and capabilities of Taiwan-US defense cooperation.
If China takes military action, ballistic and cruise missiles are likely to be used in the first strike. Missiles and uncrewed fighter jets will be deployed to destroy runways at military airports, and exhaust air-defense missiles and fighters.
Large numbers of fighters and bombers will then be sent to devastate military facilities and fighters hidden in caves. However, Taiwan could still prevent China from carrying out large landing operations by employing a “four-circle strategy.”
The first “circle” would be to use land and air-based anti-ship missiles to sink Chinese warships. The second would be to obstruct or delay the operations of the Chinese landing fleet with sea mines. The third would be to use mobile short-range missiles to attack invading vessels. The fourth would be to use attack helicopters, tanks, cannons and bombs to destroy landing vessels and troops.
If the Chinese troops were to land, they would only be able to win if they could deliver tens of thousands of soldiers and massive backup firepower. Once a Chinese invasion began, the whole military and public would uphold an all-out defense and make full use of missiles, weapons and attack helicopters in combination with tanks and artillery.
This constitutes a powerful deterrent.
If China does not have a strong political will to invade, it might give up on the idea of military actions after considering the military cost.
At the moment, the US, Japan, India, Australia and other countries are developing an Indo-Pacific strategic cooperation framework, while planning to promote Taiwan’s role in response to the expanding Chinese military threat in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region.
Due to practical considerations, the US and Japan seem to believe that Taiwan cannot be promoted to a formal military alliance member, because that could lead to the risk of a showdown between Beijing and Washington.
However, if China were to annex Taiwan by non-peaceful means, the entire Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea would truly become a “Chinese Sea,” posing a critical challenge to the US-Japan security alliance.
Washington and Tokyo intend to minimize the cost by emphasizing that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should maintain the “status quo” and resume constructive dialogue, in the belief that this would be of the most benefit to Washington and Tokyo’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Taipei and Washington could then continue to promote security cooperation in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.
Taiwan needs to respond to the opportunity, challenge and threat that potential Chinese aggression poses. China continually increases the number of ballistic missiles deployed along its coastal areas, and Taiwan is within range of them. Beijing has never abandoned the option of handling the “Taiwan issue” by non-peaceful means.
Therefore, the national defense strategy should be based on the principle of “if you want peace, prepare for war,” while at the same time it should adhere to an all-out defense and support calls for cross-strait reconciliation.
James Tzeng is an adviser at the National Policy Foundation.
Translated by Eddy Chang
Having returned to the UK late last year and with a Taiwanese spouse remaining in Taiwan, I have been afforded the chance to compare and contrast the UK and Taiwanese governments’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis. My early conclusions are that Taiwan benefits from a rational, competent government, which quickly recognizes, adapts to and confronts large-scale disasters. It is led by a government that does more than just talk of respecting democracy and human rights, one that is scrutinized and responds to criticism, one that is concerned about public opinion, and one that is used to dealing with emergencies on
Early last month, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) was elected party chairman, winning with a seven-to-three majority over pro-Beijing former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), a two-time KMT vice chairman. Chiang’s victory has been interpreted as a generational change and the beginning of major party reform. In his inauguration speech on March 9, Chiang did not mention the so-called “1992 consensus.” Analysts believe that his most urgent task is to attract more young people to the party and win voter trust, and that he does not care about Beijing’s reaction. After joining the party chairmanship by-election, Chiang made his
A day does not go by without some news or media update about the spread of COVID-19. It is impossible to even remember exactly when it was not like this. Such is the nature of the pandemic that is crisscrossing the world. Cities and countries are on lockdown. People are hoarding. Health services are being overtaxed. Racism has also grown rampant as non-involved Asians around the world are being blamed for what originated from a bureaucratic cover-up in Wuhan, China. There are innumerable lessons to be learned from this, far too many to be listed here. This article will focus