Though chances of an armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait appear to have diminished for the time being, the Chinese government has never changed its mindset of achieving “unification,” by force if necessary, nor lowered its guard toward the Taiwanese military, the Ministry of National Defense said in a report yesterday.
While President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) relatively open China policy seems to have calmed turbulent cross-strait relations, the ministry said that Beijing had not dropped its aggressive stance against Taiwan.
The ministry’s Five-Year Military Reform and Policy Plan Report, submitted to the legislature yesterday, said that China’s Second Artillery Corps had increased its deployment of Dong Feng 16 (DF-16) and DF-21D missiles, which would enable the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct multiple-wave precision strikes against Taiwan.
The Chinese arsenal deployed along its east coast includes 1,400 tactical ballistic missiles, short-range missiles, cruise missiles, as well as laser or electronically guided missiles capable of delivering warheads over long distances.
The report said this has strengthened the PLA’s capabilities to strike against all targets within the nation.
While National Security Bureau Director Tsai Der-sheng (蔡得勝) said in March that China had begun deploying the DF-16, a newly developed tactical ballistic missile, it remains unknown whether the DF-21D, a medium-range hypersonic anti-ship ballistic missile currently under development, has started being deployed, though some US officials claim that it has.
The DF-21D, said to be designed to counter US maritime superiority, can strike a moving aircraft carrier from a land-based location.
The ministry said newly created missile brigades are officially equipped with the DF-21D to strengthen overall missile strike capability.
The Second Artillery is capable, with its overall number of missiles, accuracy and damage capability, and in tandem with naval and air forces, of conducting large-scale joint strikes as well as naval and aerial interdiction, the report said.
The report was submitted along with the ministry’s national defense budget estimates.
The more relaxed atmosphere in the Taiwan Strait has not stopped the PLA from modernizing its equipment and strengthening the combat ability of its forces under its military strategy of “active defense.”
The PLA is also making large-scale preparations for combat in the southeast coastal regions, which shows that Beijing has not given up its ambition of resolving the Taiwan issue by force, the report said.
The risk of a military clash across the Strait is still extant, the report said.
As for the PLA’s combat readiness, the report showed that while continuing to deploy the Beidou No. 2 positioning satellite, the PLA would complete installation of the Beidou global positioning system (GPS) in 2020 and would no longer have to rely on the US’ GPS.
The Beidou GPS would also enhance long-range precision strikes, the report said.
The PLA’s large-scale live-fire exercises south and east of the China Sea, with its land-based Yingji-62 subsonic anti-ship missile, S300 Soviet-origin long-range surface-to-air missiles and the DF-21D could effectively interdict Taiwan’s aerial and naval counteraction capabilities, as well as the battle capability of “third-party forces” west of the country, the report said.
Although the PLA is currently limited by being unable to conduct large-scale warfare against Taiwan because of a lack of regular amphibious craft and because of environmental constraints, it has the ability to take over Taiwan’s outlying islands, the report said.
It added that the PLA was trying to buy four Zubr-class LCAC air-cushioned hovercraft from Ukraine, with two to be built in Feodosia in Ukraine and the other two to be build in China under the supervision of Ukrainian technicians.
These landing craft would increase its load capacity and lower army projection timing, gradually threatening Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, the report said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff writer
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