China is modernizing its military forces faster than anyone expected only a few years ago, escalating the potential danger to Taiwan, to US forces and bases in Asia, and to the overall balance of power in the region. \n"China adheres to the military strategy of active defense and works to speed up the revolution of military affairs with Chinese characteristics," says the white paper that Beijing issued in December, pointing to "leapfrog development" in high-tech weapons for its missile units, navy and air force. Where many US and Asian analysts said before that China would be able to mount a credible threat between 2010 and 2015, now they are saying it will come earlier, perhaps by 2006 and certainly by 2012. \nBeijing seems driven by a perception that Taiwan is drifting toward formal independence, that the US is becoming a greater menace as it realigns and strengthens its forces in Asia, and that, more distantly, Japan has begun to assert itself militarily. \nBehind this military progress has been the rapid growth of the Chinese economy that pays for this growth in military power. China's defense budget is estimated to have ballooned to US$80 billion, the world's third-largest after the US and Russia, and almost double that of Japan, which has Asia's second-largest defense budget. \nThe Chinese, who had insisted on self-sufficiency, have bought weapons and technology from abroad, notably from Russia. China could afford those purchases because Beijing's foreign exchange reserves, the world's largest, rose to US$610 billion by the end of last year, more than 10 times their holdings of US$53 billion 10 years ago. To buy even more, China has been urging the EU to lift the arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. Washington and Taipei oppose easing the restriction. \nUS military officers contend that the US has sufficient combat power, at sea, in the sky, and with nuclear weapons, to defeat China if hostilities should break out. Said one, however: "It sure complicates our planning." \nThis assessment of Chinese military power was drawn from the Chinese white paper, a recent defense report published in Taiwan, a Pentagon report to Congress and conversations with US and Asian analysts with access to intelligence reports. \nThe vanguard of China's military advance has been hardware. Military education and training has been improved as have logistics, but integrating the forces to invade Taiwan or to challenge the US has lagged. \nChina's missile force, called the Second Artillery, had been deploying 50 to 75 short range missiles a year; that has increased to more than 100 and next year it will have 800 missiles aimed at Taiwan. Accuracy has been doubled so that most missiles would hit within 18m to 27m of their targets. The missiles have also been made mobile to make them less of a target. In a training drill, a brigade moved 580km and was ready to fire in two days. \nIn the Chinese navy, submarines are leading the way. In the event of hostilities, they would be tasked with gaining control of the Taiwan Strait and fending off the US Navy. \nChina has bought eight Kilo class diesel-electric submarines from Russia and is planning to buy four more. It is building its own Song class of diesel-electric boats. Although these boats lack the range of nuclear-powered submarines, they are quieter and more effective close to shore. For long-range operations, China is building several nuclear-powered attack submarines. \nChina, which has become the world's third largest shipbuilder, has produced about 100 amphibious ships and four tank landing ships are under construction. That appears to have obliterated a US Navy joke that, because the Chinese lacked amphibious ships, the only way they could invade Taiwan was by swimming. \nRichard Halloran is a journalist based in Hawaii.
Beijing’s imposition of the Hong Kong National Security Law and a number of other democratic and human rights issues continue to strain relations between the UK and China. The tense situation has significantly decreased the likelihood of British Royal Navy ships being able to continue their practice of docking in Hong Kong’s harbor for resupply — a not altogether unpredictable development. In a Nov. 19 online speech to parliament, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier would next year lead a British and allied task group to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and East Asia. Johnson
President-elect Biden and his team soon will confront a raging pandemic, a severe economic crisis, demands for progress in addressing racial injustices, intensifying climate-induced crises, and strained relations with allies and partners in many parts of the world. They will be oriented to view China as America’s greatest geostrategic challenge, but not the most immediate threat to the health and prosperity of the American people. Amidst this daunting inheritance, US-Taiwan relations will stand out as a bright spot, an example of progress that should be sustained. There are strong reasons for optimism about the continued development of US-Taiwan relations in the
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I was probably the first professor in Taiwan to teach a university-level food safety class and a postgraduate food toxicology course. During the administration of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), I participated in discussions to allow imports of US beef containing traces of ractopamine, and was part of the decision to permit imports of US pork containing the leanness-enhancing additive. I am not an expert on ractopamine, as I have never done any research on the drug, but I have taught classes about the health dangers of foods containing traces of harmful substances. When US beef imports were about to be allowed,