China’s massive military buildup will “complicate” US options should China attack Taiwan, US-China Economic and Security Review Commission chairman Dennis Shea said on Thursday.
Beijing’s greatly increased military capabilities could impact the potential for US intervention, he said.
China will “increasingly challenge” US ability to deter regional conflicts, defend longtime regional allies and partners, and maintain open and secure access in the Asia Pacific, the commission’s annual report to the US Congress said.
“The broad build up of Chinese military capabilities would certainly complicate a US intervention in the case of an attack in a Taiwan scenario,” Shea said at a meeting called to release the report.
He said the commission had always shown “very strong” support for Taiwan and for the sale of US weapons to ensure the nation could meet its self-defense needs.
However, he said it was clear that the military balance had shifted significantly in favor of China.
“A strong Taiwan helps maintain stability across the Taiwan Strait and the US should ensure that Taiwan has what it needs for defense,” commissioner Peter Brookes said.
The commission hoped to “raise the profile” of the situation and make [the] US Congress aware of Taiwan’s security needs, commissioner Katherine Tobin said.
There is “tremendous unease” throughout the region, she said.
China was altering the military balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region in ways that could exacerbate regional hotspots such as Taiwan, the report said.
The US would need to quickly and safely deploy military forces across great distances during a regional conflict, it said.
Taiwan is about 11,265km from San Diego.
“China’s large-scale cybercampaign against the US could further impede US wartime operations,” the report said.
According to the report, China now maintains the largest and most-lethal short-range ballistic missile force in the world, and all of the missiles — about 1,200 of them — could strike targets throughout Taiwan.
“During a conflict with Taiwan, China likely would use its short-range ballistic missiles to strike critical military infrastructure, and command and control nodes, as well as key political and economic centers,” the report said.
It said that China would likely fire large salvos from multiple directions to “confuse, overwhelm and exhaust” the nation’s ballistic missile defenses.
The report said that China’s ballistic and cruise missiles have the potential to provide the People’s Liberation Army with a decisive military advantage in a regional conflict.
“China now is able to threaten US bases and operating areas throughout the Asia Pacific, including those that it previously could not reach with conventional weapons, such as US forces on Guam,” the report said.
“China’s nuclear force will rapidly expand and modernize over the next five years, providing Beijing with a more extensive range of military and foreign policy options and potentially weakening US extended deterrence, particularly with respect to Japan,” it added.
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