China has demonstrated that it has the ability to seize air supremacy over areas west of the first island chain and is gradually gaining the ability to take control of the Taiwan Strait, a report published yesterday by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said.
The Chinese military’s intelligence, monitoring and reconnaissance capabilities cover areas west of the second island chain in the western Pacific, and is enough to support all sorts of military actions within the region, the ministry said in its five-year military development plan submitted to the legislature.
Chinese bombers and fighter jets have regularly been crossing the first island chain into the western Pacific, which constitutes a direct challenge to the US’ military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and demonstrates China’s ability to achieve air supremacy in areas west of the island chain, the report said.
The first island chain comprises Taiwan, the Kuril Islands, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands, the northern Philippines and Borneo, while the second island chain comprises the Bonins, the Marianas, Guam and the Palau archipelago.
The island chain strategy was first mentioned in 1951 by US foreign policy commentator John Foster Dulles during the Korean War. It is often used in political and military analyses of China’s military movements in the western Pacific.
China has been conducting far-sea training, using its first operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, as part of efforts to gradually improve its ability to take control of the Taiwan Strait, the report said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese army has been sharpening its preparedness against Taiwan via landing drills and has developed the ability to seize Taiwan’s outlying islands, the report said.
It said that China has short and medium-range missiles that can reach any part of Taiwan and is developing long-range missiles capable of countering foreign military forces.
In another annual report on China’s military power, the ministry said that in the period between Aug. 18 last year to Aug. 9, Chinese military aircraft skirted the nation’s air defense identification zone 16 times during their far-sea flight drills in a bid to intimidate Taiwan.
Between Dec. 25 last year and July 12, the Liaoning conducted four drills in the waters near Taiwan, including in the Strait, the report added.
It said any military action by China against Taiwan is likely to take the form of deterrence, blockade and live fire involving all branches of its armed services.
China might also increase its non-traditional combat operations, such as cyberattacks and electronic warfare, it said.
It also outlined seven scenarios that could lead to China’s use of force against Taiwan, starting with Taiwan declaring independence, moving unequivocally toward independence, facing domestic unrest or acquiring nuclear weapons.
The other three factors were a delay in cross-strait dialogue on peaceful unification, foreign intervention into Taiwan’s internal affairs and foreign military presence in Taiwan.
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