China Will Have Capacity For 'Full-Scale Invasion' of Taiwan by 2025: Defense Minister

The democratic island's defense minister says the situation is the 'grimmest' he has seen in 40 years.
By Hwang Chun-mei
China Will Have Capacity For 'Full-Scale Invasion' of Taiwan by 2025: Defense Minister Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attends a ceremony at a navy base in Yilan, Sept. 9, 2021.

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) will have the capacity for a "full-scale invasion" of Taiwan by 2025, the democratic island's defense minister warned on Wednesday.

Taiwan defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the PLA already has the capability now to invade Taiwan, which the U.S. has pledge to "assist" to defend itself.

But China will be capable of limiting the cost to itself of a "full-scale invasion" by 2025, Chiu told the Legislative Yuan's foreign affairs, defense and finance committee.

He described the current situation across the Taiwan Strait as "really the grimmest I have seen in more than 40 years of military service."

The Taiwan defense ministry said it is investing in weaponry capable of "long-range strikes," with a defensive focus, creating heavy-duty deterrence.

The Legislative Yuan session reviewed Taiwan's military budget proposals, which include a U.S.$8.57 billion upgrade for the country's navy and air force.

Under the plan, 64 percent of spending will be allocated to domestically produced anti-ship weapons, with slightly more than half of that amount including the fast-tracked development and procurement of the Hsiung Feng anti-ship missile system.

"The [ministry]'s plan to strengthen Taiwan's sea and air defenses is likely a response to increased provocations, including recent Chinese activities within Taiwan's territorial waters and incursions into its air defense identification zone (ADIZ)," Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

The PLA flew 150 aircraft into Taiwan's ADIZ in the first five days of October, with 56 planes making incursions on Oct. 4 alone, the largest recorded number in a single day.

Chiu told the session that the incursions have stepped up psychological pressure on Taiwanese pilots who have to respond, although he said Taiwan wouldn't fire first.

The U.S. warned on Monday that the incursions were destabilizing and risked "miscalculations," calling on Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he had raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

"I've spoken with Xi about Taiwan," Biden said. "We agree...we will abide by the Taiwan agreement."

Taiwan's Presidential Office said in a statement that Washington has confirmed to Taipei that its policy toward Taiwan remains unchanged, although it was unclear what agreement Biden was referring to.

'Catastrophic consequences'

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen has warned of "catastrophic consequences" if China invades Taiwan.

In an Oct. 5 op-ed article in the Foreign Affairs journal, Tsai warned: "If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system."

"It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy," she said, adding that Taiwan is on the front line of a global struggle between liberal democracy and authoritarianism.

She said Taiwan is committed to modernizing and reorganizing its own military, including mobile land-based antiship cruise missiles, and will launch an all-out training and recruitment drive for a military reserve in 2022.

"Such initiatives are meant to maximize Taiwan’s self-reliance and preparedness and to signal that we are willing to bear our share of the burden and don’t take our security partners’ support for granted," Tsai wrote.

"Taiwan does not seek military confrontation ... But if its democracy and way of life are threatened, [it] will do whatever it takes to defend itself," she said.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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