Taiwan should be “very concerned” by reports that China’s navy will soon begin the first sea patrols of a new class of strategic missile submarines, a US military expert said on Tuesday.
“While these missiles may not be aimed at Taiwan per se, they are aimed at America’s capacity to resist Chinese aggression against Taiwan,” International Assessment and Strategy Center senior fellow Richard Fisher said.
He was responding to questions from the Taipei Times following publication by the Washington Times this week of a report that US defense officials believe Beijing will begin the first sea patrols of three new Type 094 missile submarines next year.
The subs will carry the new JL-2 ballistic missile, which is thought to be equipped with multiple warheads capable of hitting the US.
Pentagon sources say the JL-2 poses a “potential first strike” nuclear missile threat to the US.
“Even with their initial deployment of three nuclear missile submarines, if patrols can be maintained off the eastern coast of North Korea, then China would have the option of launching a first strike that could reach America’s main nuclear missile submarine base at Kitsap Naval Base near Seattle,” Fisher said.
He added the emergence of China’s nuclear missile submarine fleet would make the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) far more desirous of conquering Taiwan.
According to Fisher, Taiwan’s eastern coast has immediate access to some of the deepest waters of the Pacific and would present the most ideal patrol areas for China to defend its submarines, compared with bases in the South China Sea.
“Should it ever fall to Chinese control, I would expect that Taiwan would become a major PLA nuclear forces base — for nuclear missile submarines, bombers and for land-based missiles,” said Fisher, an expert on Chinese military affairs.
He said this would be done not just to take advantage of Taiwan’s key geostrategic position in Asia, but also to ensure that the “problem” of Taiwan’s politically “unreliable” population becomes “solved” by potential nuclear retaliation against PLA nuclear forces in Taiwan.
The Washington Times quoted a US defense official familiar with recent intelligence assessments as saying that the US was anticipating combat patrols of Chinese submarines carrying the new JL-2 missile to begin next year.
The patrols will be the first time China conducts submarine operations involving nuclear-tipped missiles far from its shores, despite having had a small missile submarine force since the late 1980s, the Washington Times said.
Fisher said that all of this points to the necessity for Taiwan to build a “far more robust” capability to independently deter Chinese attack.
“It will also require that Taiwan have far better defense relationships with its neighbors Japan and the Philippines, in order to develop the means for overlapping and redundant early warning and surveillance,” Fisher said.
“This alone has tremendous potential to increase deterrence in the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
Fisher said that if the PLA knows that it will have to attack Japan and the Philippines in order to deny Taiwan the information it needs to defend itself, then China “is much less likely to attack Taiwan in the first place.”
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient
A Taiwanese bird protection group yesterday said that it has been kicked out of BirdLife International — a global conservation partnership — after it refused to sign a statement saying it would never advocate independence. The Taipei-based Chinese Wild Bird Federation said that BirdLife International last week voted to remove it, ending a partnership that had been in place since 1996. Over the past 20 years, the federation has changed its English name three times to satisfy BirdLife International, and recently the international group demanded that it change its Chinese name and sign a statement that it is “formally committing to not