The island’s defence ministry offers a grimmer assessment from last year’s report, confirming concerns over the development pace of China’s military prowess
Taiwan has projected a bleak view of its chances to quell a possible Chinese military attack by confirming Beijing’s armed forces could “paralyse” its defences, according to an official report.
The report, issued by Taiwan’s defence ministry, also claimed that China has the capabilities to monitor the island’s military deployments.
Last year, Taiwan said that China still lacked the capabilities to launch a full assault on the island. But this year’s report reflected the growing concern in Taiwan over what can be a looming danger of a Chinese invasion.
Beijing is stepping up military activities around the island, which it views as Chinese territory. It has never renounced the use of force to bring democratic Taiwan under its control.
“Unifying Taiwan by force” policy has existed in China since Chairman Mao Zedong. But recently, President Xi Jinping has focused on linking the annexation of Taiwan to his “China dream” for the country’s “great rejuvenation”.
During the 1 July celebration of the Chinese Communist Party centenary, Mr Xi vowed to unify the island with mainland China, portraying the promise as “a historic mission and an unshakable commitment” of the CCP.
A top US commander warned in March that China could invade Taiwan within six years as it tries to supplant American military power in Asia.
This year’s American warning surprised many analysts. Taiwan’s defence report will add to the widespread concerns that the Taiwan Strait could come close to an all-out war.
The report said China has the ability to launch “soft and hard electronic attacks”, including blocking communications across the western part of the first island chain, the string of islands that run from the Japanese archipelago, through Taiwan and down to the Philippines.
China “can combine with its internet army to launch wired and wireless attacks against the global internet, which would initially paralyse our air defences, command of the sea and counter-attack system abilities, presenting a huge threat to us”.
China has also improved its reconnaissance abilities using Beidou, China’s answer to the US-owned GPS navigation system, the ministry added.
This means Beijing can monitor movements around Taiwan, helped by China’s regular use of its own spy planes, drones and intelligence gathering ships, it said.
China’s Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment by Reuters.
Last year, Taiwan said that China still lagged behind in transport and logistical support for a full invasion. This year’s report repeated this assessment but also confirmed that the Chinese military is racing to improve those capabilities.
With precision missile attacks that can hit anywhere on the island, China is also capable of “paralysing” Taiwan military command centres and combat capacity of its naval and air forces, it said.
Chinese spies in Taiwan could launch a “decapitation strike” to destroy political and economic infrastructure, it added.
President Tsai Ing-wen has made bolstering Taiwan’s own defences a priority, building up its domestic defence industry and buying more equipment from the United States, the island’s most important arms supplier and international backer.
Last month President Joe Biden approved his administration’s first arms deal to Taiwan, worth more than £538 million, a move Bejing condemned as a violation of a US-China commitment to the “one-China” policy.
Additional reporting by Reuters