Mere days after Taiwan’s Defense Minister Yen Ming had said that his country’s armed forces are fully capable of deterring China, a biennial report issued by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said that China has been modernizing its weaponry and that by 2020, China will have developed a “wholly sufficient” military presence near Taiwan to launch an all-out attack, as well as defeat any ally of Taiwan (i.e., USA) coming to the latter’s defense.
The UPI reports (via Breitbart.com), Oct. 8, 2013, that Cheang Yun-pung, head of Taiwan’s MND’s Department of Strategic Planning, said China’s military development is aimed both at Taiwan and at a credible deterrent to the United States. He cited China’s deployment of Dong Feng 21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, known as “aircraft carrier-killer” missiles, that could be used if the United States tried to intervene on Taiwan’s behalf.
China claims Taiwan while effectively allowing it to function as a separate state as long as it does not actually declare independence. Taiwan has no representation in the United Nations and few countries have formal diplomatic relations with it.
According to Reuters, this is the first time the Taiwanese defense ministry has given such a precise deadline for a potential successful invasion. “Over the long-term, it will be wholly sufficient to engage in a war over Taiwan by 2020,” the report argues, citing several developments the Chinese military has been endeavoring to fund recently, particularly “long-range precision strike weaponry” capabilities. That calculation takes into account not only the Taiwanese military but any intervening power.
Frances Martel writes for Breitbart.com that Beijing has officially responded that they have yet to see the full report, but are optimistic about the “momentum of peaceful development” between the two parties, calling talks “beneficial to both sides.”
The report comes at a pivotal time in relations between Taiwan and China. Taiwan asserts its sovereignty as the Republic of China, while China views the island as a province falsely asserting said sovereignty and has encouraged talks while not discounting the possibility of using force. The summer was wrought with tension as activists clashed in Taiwan over a potential trade agreement with mainland China that could make the island more economically dependent on what many perceive to be a military threat.
While the potential for a trade agreement circulated, Taiwan sided with the United States during talks regarding multilateral trade in the South China Sea, calling for freer navigation for trade vessels.
Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for talks between the two governments, arguing that the division “should be resolved step-by-step” in a negotiating process. Calls on the part of Taiwan for military reinforcements continued nonetheless, however. Deputy Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa, on a visit to the United States earlier this month, called for the United States to send further aid to their defense, describing China as a continued “grave threat.”
The words came as something of a surprise to those following the rise of Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, who is perceived to be more China-friendly than his predecessors.
- “Taiwan denies plan to retire all Knox-class warships,” Oct. 12, 2013.
- “Taiwan receives first of P-3C anti-submarine aircarft from U.S.,” Sept. 27, 2013.