Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - Page 1 News List

MND report highlights threat of PRC

GOLIATH:The report says the PLA’s budget provides a 20-to-one dollar-for-dollar advantage over Taiwan’s and that it could seize Taiwan’s outlying islands by 2020

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

Photo taken on July 19, 2011 shows a Knox-class frigate of Taiwanese navy anchors in the island’s northern Keelung harbour. Taiwan’s defence ministry unveiled its 2011 national defence report, warning that China’s military threat against Taiwan is bigger than ever.

Photo: AFP

The balance of power in the Taiwan Strait is rapidly shifting in Beijing’s favor, the Ministry of National Defense said in this year’s National Defense Report released yesterday, adding that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could blockade Taiwan and seize its outlying islands by 2020.

The report said the PLA aimed to be able to launch a full-scale military attack against Taiwan by 2020 and it was developing the capabilities necessary to prevent foreign forces from intervening on Taiwan’s behalf.

China plans to launch its first indigenous aircraft carrier in 2020 and to deploy stealth fighters on it, the report said.

The PLA’s Beidou navigation satellite system, which will greatly enhance precision-strike capabilities, is also scheduled for completion by 2020, it said.

The report said “the gap in national defense budgets between both sides is widening, with China’s military budget 21 times that of Taiwan’s, while China’s military spending is now second only to the US globally.”

The report said China’s declared defense budget last year was US$77 billion, dwarfing Taiwan’s US$9 billion military budget. However, the actual Chinese military budget might have exceeded US$200 billion, which would provide Beijing with a dollar-for-dollar advantage of more than 20-to-one, it said.

The report said that in the 20 years to 2009, China’s military spending had maintained double-digit growth nearly every year, with total spending ranking first in Asia, threatening other countries in the region.

China’s official military spending this year is budgeted at US$93 billion, the report said, citing official Chinese statistics. The PLA has more than 2.3 million personnel, against 270,000 in Taiwan, or a -ratio of nine to one, it said.

The report said China had deployed a small number of Dong-Feng 21D “carrier killer” ballistic missiles last year, which could threaten aircraft carriers, the main platform the US would likely use if it intervened in any future conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

China has deployed more than 1,000 missiles along its southeastern coast targeting Taiwan, while intensely building air defense and anti-ship bases along the coast.

Advanced weapons systems are deployed in Fujian and Guangdong provinces, with an emphasis on strengthening long-range force projection capabilities.

“This indicates that the Chinese communists have not altered their thinking of [posing a] military threat and invasion,” it said.

Regarding the PLA Air Force, it said China’s new-generation combat aircraft are deployed at bases in Fujian and Guangdong, which are equipped with long-range air-defense systems.

Long-range anti-ship missiles are deployed on ships at bases in the southeast and new-type missile boats are also operational there, the report said.

Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles and high-speed anti-radiation missiles are capable of attacking Taiwan’s command-and-control bases, it said.

As the military imbalance between Taiwan and China continues to expand, Taiwan is developing asymmetric warfare capabilities and strengthening its conventional forces to meet the challenge, the report said.

Commenting on the report, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said it was evidence that cross-strait military imbalance had grown rapidly since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took power in 2008.

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