Sat, Aug 31, 2019 - Page 1 News List

China’s nuclear capabilities maturing

GROWING THREAT:The defense ministry said that the PLA has been expanding its arsenal to achieve its strategic goals and increase its force projection in the region

By Aaron Tu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Xian H-6 bomber flies outside Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Dec. 18 last year.

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense

The Chinese armed forces could soon have full-fledged “tactical nuclear power” to counter any major nuclear-armed nation, according to the Ministry of National Defense’s People’s Liberation Army Report for this year.

Such capabilities could allow China to attain its strategic goals of ending calls for independence within and outside of its borders; combating hegemony; establishing control of its border with India; and stabilizing its frontiers, said the report, which was delivered to the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could by next year establish an arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons sizeable and powerful enough to deter a nuclear war and protect China’s borders, it said.

By 2050, China could complete the infrastructure necessary to launch nuclear-armed aircraft for strategic bombing, it added.

The report also maintained a theory from last year’s edition that the PLA could conclude preparations to invade Taiwan by next year, but has limited ability to capture it due to geographical and equipment challenges.

Beijing stands by its “one China” principle and refuses tot acknowledge any form of “one China, one Taiwan” or that Taiwan is an independent and sovereign nation, the report said.

China has not abandoned the option of annexing Taiwan by force and its actions have posed an ever-increasing threat to Taiwan’s military, it said.

China remains dedicated to funding upgrades for its attack helicopters and armored vehicles, as well as developing the JL-3 intercontinental ballistic missile and other long-range submarine-launched missiles, it added.

In 2017, the PLA Navy overcame technical difficulties to begin production of Type 958 air-cushioned landing craft, the report said.

The first Chinese-produced aircraft carrier is also expected to enter service this year, it said.

Naval exercises in the South China Sea and Western Pacific featuring China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and return voyages through the Taiwan Strait were attempts to demonstrate that the PLA possesses a blue-water navy, the report said.

The PLA’s shows of force have become increasingly brazen, it said, citing an incident earlier this year in which Chinese fighters crossed the median line of the strait.

Military exercises this year in China’s east, south and southeast aim to turn exceptions into the norm, increasing China’s military projection and ensuring an advantage against Taiwan, the report said, adding that the PLA intends to conclude preparations for an armed invasion of Taiwan by next year.

Based on the principle of conducting a high-efficiency campaign with minimal losses that would see rapid engagements and a swift conclusion, the PLA could employ joint-force operations in its offensive and landing operations, the report said.

However, China lacks the ability to launch a conventional all-out assault against Taiwan because of the nation’s terrain and logistical constraints due to insufficient landing craft, it said.

In the event of an armed conflict, such deficiencies would limit China to taking only outlying islands, the report said, adding that Beijing’s options remain limited to intimidation through military drills and blockading or bombarding Taiwan.

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