The government of China has warned that it will invade Taiwan, but only as a last resort. As we read in Nikkei Asia:
The clock is ticking on Taiwan to implement sweeping defense reforms in preparation for a potential Chinese invasion, a U.S. military expert has warned.
“There’s a narrow window of just a few years for Taiwan to make very significant reforms. At this point, the word ‘reform’ is not enough: Taiwan’s defenses need to be transformed,” Ivan Kanapathy, a former deputy senior Asia director on the U.S. National Security Council, told Nikkei Asia in an interview. “The majority of Taiwan’s forces are extremely vulnerable to the People Liberation Army’s cyber and missile attacks,” he said.
Kanapathy’s warning comes after China’s biggest-ever military exercise surrounding Taiwan and its outlying islands following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taipei.
“Taiwan could resist quite well [a full-scale invasion] right now — and that’s been the case for more than 70 years. Xi Jinping likely isn’t confident in his military’s ability to execute an invasion of Taiwan,” he said. “A key weakness that the People’s Liberation Army is working on is lift capacity — amphibious and air assault lift capacity — to move troops across the [Taiwan] Strait.”
“Taiwan will need significantly more resilient island defense capabilities,” said Kanapathy, who was a U.S. military attache in Taipei and served in the Trump and Biden administrations. He’s currently a China expert at CSIS, a Washington-based think-tank.
China keeps plowing more resources into its military, announcing in March a defense budget of 1.45 trillion yuan ($214 billion) — a nominal year-on-year increase of 7.1%.
The PLA’s unprecedented military activity has led to heightened concerns about China’s willingness to invade the self-governing island. Taiwan has never been ruled by Communist China, but Beijing claims it as its own and refuses to rule out an invasion.
In a white paper published last week, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said plans to “reunify” with the island were closer than ever, but added that using force would be a “last resort taken under compelling circumstances.”