The military balance in the Taiwan Strait is tilting in China’s favor, and the gap is widening as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) modernizes its arsenal, an annual defense white paper released by the Japanese Ministry of Defense yesterday said.
Defense of Japan 2020 says that “the overall military balance between China and Taiwan is shifting in favor of China, and the gap appears to be growing year by year,” in its section on China’s relations with foreign countries and regions.
China has been building and modernizing the PLA at an unprecedented rate, while Taiwan relies heavily on US arms sales, the paper said.
“While the United States has continued and reinforced its engagement in Taiwan, China has repeatedly expressed its strong protest against Taiwan’s independence,” it said.
The military threat has increased since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) won her second term in January because of her administration’s opposition to the “one country, two systems” model proposed by Beijing for cross-strait unification, it said.
Analyzing China’s military strength, the white paper said the PLA, PLA Navy and PLA Air Force all have significant advantages over their Taiwanese counterparts, both in quantity and quality.
Though the PLA does not have enough amphibious assault forces to occupy Taiwan in a full-scale invasion, it has been significantly expanding its landing ship forces over the years for that purpose, the paper said.
Taiwan is strengthening its asymmetric warfare capabilities by investing in developing and building its own military aircraft and vessels, including stealth corvettes, the paper said.
Taiwan deploys US-made PAC-2 and PAC-3 anti-ballistic missile systems, but some analysts have case doubt on the systems’ capabilities to counter an airstrike by Beijing, which has thousands of mid-range ballistic missiles that can reach Taiwan, it said.
The while paper said that the Japanese government would keep close tabs on the military buildup on both sides of the Strait, US arms sales to Taiwan and Taipei’s ongoing efforts to invest in indigenous weapons systems.
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