The Chinese regime has ratcheted up its aggressive rhetoric toward Taiwan in recent weeks, culminating in an announcement on April 12 that the Chinese military will hold live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Straits on April 18.
Taiwan has a separate political and economic system from mainland China and is, for the most part, a separate country, but Beijing views Taiwan as a region that will one day be reunited with the mainland.
The Chinese regime has not renounced the use of military force to bring Taiwan under its control. On the contrary, Beijing officials have become increasingly assertive.
In an April 9 article published on the state-run Global Times website, retired People’s Liberation Army lieutenant-general Wang Hongguang said the Chinese regime had all the military capabilities to invade Taiwan, and that it could be achieved within 100 hours—“without giving American or Japanese forces the chance to summon a massive military force to assist [Taiwan],” he wrote.
On April 10, at a panel held at the Bo’ao economic forum in Hainan island, China, Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged Taiwanese businesspeople to oppose Taiwan independence.
Taiwan is a U.S. strategic ally in the Asia-Pacific region. While the United States only maintains formal diplomatic relations with China, it has continually sold arms to Taiwan for the island to defend itself. Most recently, President Donald Trump signed a unanimously passed bill that would allow more diplomatic exchanges between U.S. and Taiwan officials.
Meanwhile, the Chinese military has continually developed military capabilities to prepare for a Taiwan invasion. In an annual report on China’s military power released in 2017, the U.S. Defense Department noted that the Chinese military considered Taiwan “one of the geographic areas the leadership identifies as endowed with strategic importance.”
The report outlined China’s various artillery systems that have the range to strike within or across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese have about 1,200 short-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Taiwan in its inventory and have recently added land-attack cruise missiles to the array of missiles deployed opposite Taiwan, according to the report.
However, Ian Easton, a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute who recently authored the book, “The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia,” told The Epoch Times that a military invasion by the Chinese regime would be hard to pull off.
The Chinese regime has a few disadvantages: Taiwan’s geographic features serve as a natural defense, while the Chinese military does not possess enough amphibious vehicles, vessels, or aircraft that could quickly transport troops across the straits, Easton said.
The Defense Department’s assessment similarly noted that Taiwan’s armed forces possessed technological superiority, but that the Chinese military’s recent investments now pose “major challenges to Taiwan’s security.”
Responding to Wang’s comments in the Global Times article, Taiwan’s Defense Department deputy chief of staff, general Chen Baoyu, said on April 12 that Wang’s proposition was “absolutely impossible,” adding that his first reaction to the news was to laugh.
He said that Taiwan’s air force was among the world’s most tightly organized, and would be ready to react to Chinese military force swiftly.
In the Chinese regime’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016 to 2020) unveiled in 2016, the state also proposed building a high-speed rail tunnel connecting Beijing to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. However, there has been no timetable proposed and Taiwanese officials strongly opposed to the idea at the time. Many in Taiwan were concerned such a tunnel could be used to transport Chinese troops in the event of an invasion.
Qin Yufei contributed to this report.