A new report by a professor at the US Naval War College says Chinese military planners “covet the ability” to prevent US and allied forces from intervening effectively in the event of a Taiwan Strait crisis.
“The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is improving rapidly in many areas, and has manifold advantages on which to draw, particularly in its proximity to, and focus on, the most likely scenario — a multi-vector PLA offensive to pressure Taiwan into reunification,” the report says.
Written by Andrew Erickson and just published by the Jamestown Foundation, the report says China is on the verge of achieving major breakthroughs with anti-ship ballistic missiles; streaming cruise missile attacks; precise and reliable satellites and space weapons.
The report claims such achievements could “radically improve” China’s anti-access and area denial capabilities by allowing it to dangerously threaten any ships or aircraft that enter “strategically vital zones” around the country.
Of greatest concern to Washington, the report says, is a solid propellant anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) with two stages and a reentry vehicle.
The sensors on this weapon may be able to find, and the warhead severely damage, an aircraft carrier.
With a range of about 1,500km, this missile could stop US aircraft carrier battle groups from entering an area “far beyond Taiwan and the First Island Chain into the Western Pacific.”
Erickson’s report says China may already be producing rocket motors for the missile in a purpose-built factory.
If developed and deployed successfully, the anti-ship ballistic missile “would be the world’s first weapons system capable of targeting a moving carrier strike group hundreds of kilometers from China’s shores from long-range, land-based mobile launchers,” the report says.
While there have been previously published reports of the missile, this stark warning from Erickson — a founding member of the China Maritime Studies Institute — is alarming.
The US Navy has developed systems to deal with anti-ship cruise missiles but this weapon is “qualitatively different.”
For one thing, a US attack on the launchers — hidden well inside China — would be “highly escalatory” and would risk all-out war.
However, the report quotes an unnamed US Department of Defense official as saying that Beijing scientists “still have a ways to go” before they can integrate the missile system with its command and control computers and with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
“Yet China has many ways to mitigate limitations for kinetic operations around Taiwan,” the report says.
“While conflict is by no means foreordained and interaction and cooperation should be pursued whenever feasible and equitable, the challenge presented by China’s emerging anti-access and area-denial infrastructure cannot be ignored,” it says.
“Long before a crisis, and to deter one from ever erupting, US leaders need to ask, ‘where are threats to our carriers and how can we counter them?’” the report says.
In related developments, former National Airborne Corps (NAC) director Chen Chung-hsien (陳崇賢) told reporters on Monday that the 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters the US agreed to sell to Taiwan as part of a major arms package earlier this year would be delivered in 2013. The military said it planned to allot 15 to the NAC for civil rescue operations.
The NAC said the 15 helicopters would substantially improve the nation’s air rescue capabilities.
The NAC said the Army was also in negotiations with Bell Helicopter on an upgrade program for NAC’s UH-1H helicopters.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
CAUTION: The CECC would first observe how the nation fares after easing domestic restrictions and wait for the pandemic to further subside before making its next move The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists. The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei. Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the
Taiwan respects other countries’ decisions not to include it in their first lists of tourists allowed entry when they reopen their borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday reported that the Japanese government was considering reopening the country to tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand first. Greece on Friday announced that from June 15, it would allow visitors from 29 countries, including Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany. Japan has not yet finalized its visitor list, but the ministry has conveyed its hope that Tokyo would