Vietnam yesterday, Afghanistan today, Taiwan tomorrow? Taiwan arms itself to make a Chinese invasion costly and impossible
After the US withdrawal, the mouthpiece of the CPC Global Times asked: “Afghanistan today, Taiwan tomorrow?” and aired warnings to the USA not to cross red lines as to rename the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Representative Office to Taiwanese Representative Office as the PLA would then start an economic blockade against Taiwan and take control of its air space. It also threatened Japan for its mentioning of Taiwan in ist new security strategy and claimed that Australia would become a potential target for Chinese nuclear missiles after the US, the UK and Australia founded the defense pact AUKUS:. However, the USA and its Asian allies don´t seem to be deterred by the Chinese warnings and the USA wants also to increase its weapon deliveries to Taiwan. Taiwan on the other side thinks about an mostly independent strategy to counter Chinese threats.Taiwan is arming itself -a strong military should make an Chinese invasion practically impossible. Taiwan is buying modern war equipment in the face of growing tensions with the People’s Republic of China. Taipei wants to make an invasion almost impossible and relies on deterrence. The government in Taipei is buying new military equipment and is even having its own systems developed again. The development is understandable: Under Xi Jinping, the People’s Republic is giving ever clearer signals of strength. Upgrade works like escalation, but it could follow its own balanced logic.
The „aircraft carrier killer“ is a domestic product, it comes from the Taiwanese shipyard Lung Teh Shipbuilding. That is reason enough for Taiwan’s * President Tsai Ing-wen to travel to the small port city of Su’ao on the east coast of the island to commission the new warship at the beginning of September and give a short speech on the defense capabilities of her country. „We are well on the way to becoming independent in the area of national defense,“ news agencies quoted the president as saying. These are strong words. The general perception is that Taiwan’s security depends primarily on protection from the US *. But Tsai now wants to at least significantly strengthen its independence. This tendency towards two-track policy with more ties to the major alliance partner and at the same time more in-house developments is also reflected in the Taipei government’s report on Taiwan’s defense capabilities, which appears only every four years. Several interesting facts emerge from the second „Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)“:
• Taiwan is actively trying to adapt to the changed capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army.
• The focus is on repelling an invasion well off the coast, including through the use of guided weapons and drones. • If the landing forces cannot be stopped, infantry should stop their advance. • Instead of large contingents of troops, Taiwan wants to set up mobile and mechanized units. The procurement priorities are derived from this.
• Another focus is on the ability to strike long-range to ward off approaching ships. In addition, it should be possible to prevent Chinese troops from preparing on the mainland before they leave. As early as this year, Taiwan intends to acquire and develop new missile systems that are “suitable for long distances, accurate and mobile”.
• Integration into the US armed forces continues to deepen. The systems are completely compatible: fire control computers work on the same platform, computer systems have interfaces, spare parts are interchangeable, the device is familiar from exercises, etc. • Defense capabilities will be “asymmetrical”. China’s People’s Liberation Army * will always keep the numerical superiority. However, the aim is not to shut them down completely – only to prevent them from landing soldiers.
According to analysts, Taiwan is now working to implement the conclusions of the defense report. „In 2021, Taiwan began procuring the military hardware required by the QDR,“ writes Thomas J. Shattuk of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. “Taiwan has to build up its military capabilities today, not until 2025.” The better and better equipment of the People’s Liberation Army creates a defensive gap that is widening every year. Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng has therefore awarded corresponding research contracts to the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. Taiwan:
Taiwan is producing a camouflage stealth corvette with anti-ship missiles The new corvette, nicknamed “Aircraft Carrier Killer”, is an important part of the new concept. Officially, it is the so-called Tuo-Chiang class of warships. With a length of 60 meters, these are smaller than frigates, but full of modern technology right up to the top. The shape of the wedge-shaped ship hides itself from radar. Above all, however, it is equipped with anti-ship missiles of the Hsing Feng III type, which are difficult to repel even by aircraft carrier groups. The Ta Chiang recently commissioned by Tsai Ing-wen is the second example of this class. Four more are to follow. The trend towards armament is understandable. Taiwan in its current political form is acutely threatened in its existence. The People’s Republic denies the island its status as an independent state. Beijing treats Taiwan not only rhetorically but also in practical terms as part of its territory. The concerns are heightened by military maneuvers and routine provocations, which China – according to its growing military capabilities – carries out with better and better equipment. A current study by the US military think tank Project 2049 examines the question of what an invasion of Taiwan might look like in practice. The authors assume that the Chinese army plans to use thousands of civilian ships to transport millions of soldiers to Taiwan.
But the numbers also show how difficult and ultimately unlikely such an invasion is. If it were a mere victory against a hostile country, the case would be clear: The People’s Liberation Army would quickly have military sovereignty with bombs and missiles. But an attack with heavy artillery is out of the question: According to the reading of the People’s Republic, the inhabitants of the island are considered to be citizens of their own. According to this logic, they are just as protected by the communist government as the inhabitants of the mainland. So little should happen to civilians, at least. A conquest must therefore be carried out with foot soldiers – street by street, house by house. And that in a place where almost all adult men have done military service and hardly anyone wants to live under Chinese rule. The mere plan to bring Taiwan’s ports under control is likely to pose considerable problems for the Admiralty of the People’s Liberation Army. It doesn’t help that the Chinese troops can eliminate the Taiwanese air force and large parts of the local navy comparatively quickly. Taiwan:
The Logic of Deterrence is the following: President Tsai and Taiwan’s allies know at the same time that they must by no means make things easy for China *. Signs of weakness would upset the existing equilibrium as well as exaggerated threatening gestures. A loophole in the Taiwanese defense would force Xi to seize the opportunity. Finally, some hardliners in the people and leadership are pushing for the supposed shame of the split to be corrected. A balance of power is therefore also important for those who on the side of the People’s Republic are rattling their sabers but want to avoid a real war. However, since China is arming roughly in step with its technical and economic development, Taiwan also needs more and more modern weapons. Analysts have therefore long noticed a certain connection between the rise in the Chinese defense budget and US arms deliveries to Taiwan.
According to this logic, the commissioning of the new camouflage stealth corvette Ta Chiang is only logical. After all, China has several of its own aircraft carriers laid on the keel. The third and so far largest of the ships is currently under construction. When the other side hits a new aircraft carrier, Tsai sends a new aircraft carrier killer onto the water. Unfortunately, that does not mean that there is a particularly stable equilibrium.
Too much is changing in global politics at the moment, and this also applies to Taiwan: • China itself performs as the powerhouse; The era of foreign policy restraint is definitely over under President Xi Jinping *. The US-China * relationship have become tense since the Americans realized the realities of unequal trade. • The US is withdrawing inward under both Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as the departure from Afghanistan shows *. In the USA, there is an idea in important circles that Xi Jinping is pushing for forced reunification. This in turn creates nervousness there – and that is never a good advisor when the status quo is tricky. But even the hawks at the American RAND research institute are not calling for excessive armament. They, too, advise pulling along with China’s growing capabilities – not surpassing them. Credible threats keep the peace for the time being If it wants to be able to defend itself, Taiwan must now be able to make the following points credible: • An attack on the island would by no means be a simple, glorious victory, but rather dirty and thus costly in terms of foreign and domestic politics.
The invasion would not be quick, it would certainly be protracted. A silent, sudden land seizure such as the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 must be ruled out. • The chance of an absolute debacle with an ongoing war against the USA and its allies Japan and South Korea plus international sanctions must be high. So far, all three points have been given. Japan * has also increased its expressions of solidarity in the past few weeks. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has made it clear that Taiwan’s security is one of Japan’s very best interests. Tokyo speaks such clear words mostly in coordination with Washington. All of this makes speculations by analysts in America and Taiwan about Xi as the attacker seem unrealistic at first. Even the strong man cannot convincingly present the logic of an attack to his party. However, the prerequisite is that the threatening backdrop remains credible. The new killer ships, guided missiles and drones are used for this.