China is boosting its combat capabilities to the point at which it could mount a full cross-strait attack in 2020, according to a new report from the Ministry of National Defense (MND).
The report added that Chinese leaders have not given up the option of mounting a military invasion of Taiwan to unify it with “the Chinese motherland.”
The report was sent to the legislature yesterday.
Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) is scheduled to formally deliver it today in a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
China has been developing and deploying various new high-end weapons, as well as advanced cyberattack and defense technologies, as it builds up its combat capabilities to reach an invasion level by 2020, the report said.
The high-end weapons include various types of reconnaissance satellites, the newest type of stealth combat aircraft, various types of unmanned aircraft systems, new ballistic missiles, new aircraft carriers, as well as research and engineering for new nuclear-powered submarines, the report said.
It also said that the ground forces of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are deploying new types of attack helicopters (WZ-10s and WZ-19s), a new design of Type 99G battle tanks weighing 55 tonnes and a new type of light tank that weighs 30 tonnes and offers improved mobile flexibility.
The Chinese military threat has not diminished and China remains the greatest source of armed conflict for the Republic of China (ROC), the report said.
It quotes Chinese leaders on the reasons for Beijing’s increase in defense spending and boosting its military capability — that they are needed to guard against “splittist factions” making moves to interfere with the peace development across the Taiwan Strait.
By conducting combined forces training with amphibious landing exercises, expanding its naval fleet’s far-sea patrol missions, rotating troop units at positions directly across the Strait and elevating its military strength and combat ability, China will be capable of mounting a full-scale military attack on Taiwan by 2020, under the guise of “subduing Taiwan independence factions and unifying the Motherland,” the report said.
It also pointed out that neighboring countries are boosting their military capabilities and defense spending in response to China’s moves, although this has a trickle-down effect of constricting the ROC’s security operations zone.
In the face of a military imbalance skewed in China’s favor, Taiwan’s military is adhering to a concept of innovative, asymmetric warfare, in line with national defense policies, the report said.
To maintain adequate defense capabilities, Taiwan is developing its own weaponry even as it continues trying to buy arms from other countries, it said.
To better control military movements around Taiwan’s territorial space, the military is strengthening its air and sea reconnaissance capabilities and early-warning systems by deploying P-3C marine patrol aircraft, unmanned aircraft systems and integrating the helicopter fleets of the three branches of the military, the report added.
On the issue of China’s cyberthreat, the report said the military must strengthen its national information security mechanism, establish critical infrastructure protection, support the information security industry and cultivate cybersecurity personnel.
The military has estimated that between next year and 2019, the number of military personnel would be reduced to between 170,000 and 190,000, the report said.
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