China’s massive military modernization program is dominated by preparations for a conflict with Taiwan and the possibility of US intervention, a Pentagon report said on Friday.
The report, which was issued in Washington, said that Beijing is ready to conduct missile attacks and precision strikes against the nation’s air defense systems, air bases, radar sites, missile silos, space assets and communications facilities.
All of this in an attempt to “degrade Taiwan’s defenses, neutralize Taiwan’s leadership or break the public’s will to fight.”
In its annual report to the US Congress on China’s military and security developments over the previous year, the Pentagon said Beijing continues to pursue a long-term, comprehensive military modernization program designed to improve its armed forces capacity to fight short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts.
“Preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains the focus and primary driver of China’s military investment,” it said.
The report added: “China is increasing its emphasis on preparations for contingencies other than Taiwan, such as contingencies in the East China Sea and South China Sea.”
According to the report, China’s strategy incorporates persuasion and coercion to deter or repress moves toward Taiwanese independence.
Despite a warming in cross-strait relations during the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), “there have been no signs that China’s military posture opposite Taiwan has changed significantly,” it said.
The report said that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has developed and deployed military capabilities to coerce Taiwan or to attempt an invasion if necessary.
It said that China appears to be prepared to defer the use of force as long as it believes that unification remains possible in the long term and the costs of conflict outweigh the benefits.
If the decision is made to use force against Taiwan, the report said that China might first signal its readiness and then build up a force “to optimize the speed of engagement over strategic deception.”
Another option would be for China to sacrifice overt, large-scale preparations in favor of surprise to force rapid military and political resolution before other countries could respond, it said, adding that maritime and air blockades are also a possibility.
“China might use a variety of disruptive, punitive or lethal military actions in a limited campaign against Taiwan, likely in conjunction with overt and clandestine economic and political activities,” the report said.
It added: “Such a campaign could include computer network or limited kinetic attacks against Taiwan’s political, military and economic infrastructure to induce fear in Taiwan and degrade the populace’s confidence in the Taiwan leadership.”
“Similarly, PLA special operations forces could infiltrate Taiwan and conduct attacks against infrastructure or leadership targets,” it said.
The report said that the PLA is capable — with few overt preparations — of launching an invasion of small Taiwan-held islands in the South China Sea, such as the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) or Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島).
A PLA invasion of medium-sized, better defended outlying islands such as Matsu or Kinmen is within its capabilities, but would risk galvanizing pro-independence sentiment and generating international opposition.
Large-scale amphibious invasion of Taiwan proper would involve “significant political and military risk” and the report indicates that scenario is unlikely.
Nevertheless, the report says that the PLA Air Force has stationed a large number of advanced aircraft within range of Taiwan, providing them with significant capability to conduct air superiority and ground attack operations.
At the same time, China’s long-range air defense systems provide “a strong layer of defense against a counterattack.”
COMMUNICATION: A US representative said that Starshield is inactive in and around Taiwan, which could put US military personnel at risk in the Western Pacific in a conflict Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) might have contravened its Pentagon contract by not providing access to its satellite communication network Starshield in and around Taiwan, a letter from a US House of Representatives committee to the company said. In September last year, the US Department of Defense awarded SpaceX a one-year contract for Starshield access, worth US$100 million. A few months before that, the Pentagon also commissioned SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network to be used by Ukrainian forces amid Russia’s invasion. Starshield is a derivative of Starlink intended for military use. SpaceX has long worked closely with the US military and intelligence agencies, which
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China
KINMEN: Coast guards on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should prohibit the entry of illegal vessels into ‘restricted’ waters to uphold maritime safety, Chen Chien-jen said Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to approach the security of Kinmen and Xiamen waters with rationality and equitability, following a boat chase that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week. Chen was responding to media inquiries ahead of a legislative session amid rising cross-strait tensions following the capsizing of a Chinese speedboat off the east coast of Kinmen on Wednesday last week during a pursuit by the Taiwanese coast guard. The Ministry of National Defense established the boundaries of “prohibited” and “restricted” waters around Kinmen in 1992 to better protect
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: TSMC founder Morris Chang said he has high hopes for the new fab, based on his experience in Japan 56 years earlier, and amid high demand for AI Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday held an opening ceremony for its first chip manufacturing fab in Kumamoto, Japan, which it hopes will improve chip supply resilience and help Japan usher in a semiconductor renaissance. The Kumamoto fab is slated to enter volume production in the fourth quarter of this year. The Japanese government said it would extend its financial support of the project to include the construction of a second factory, as TSMC’s investment is crucial to its efforts to revive its semiconductor industry. The Kumamoto fab is owned by a joint venture, Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc (JASM), which