United States eyes Taiwan risk as China’s military capabilities grow

Posted January 18, 2019

The drills follow intelligence from the U.S. over China's growing military might, with concern growing that Taiwan may become a target.

The Chinese rail network has about 100,000 kilometers of track, 10,000 kilometers of which is high-speed track supporting trains running at up to 250 kilometers per hour, the Pentagon said in its 2019 "China Military Power" report.

On Jan. 2, Xi said in a speech that China reserved the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but would strive to achieve peaceful "reunification". "As it continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation's leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to USA interests", the report said.

The report suggested China's fear that foreign forces might attempt to interfere in an operation to take Taiwan has driven the development of "a range of systems to deter and deny foreign regional force projection", such as American carrier strike groups.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, a senior defense official admitted that he was anxious about China now having the confidence to pull off major military moves - such as invading Taiwan.

While the report acknowledges that China spends significantly less on defense than the some $700 billion invested by the USin 2018, it says Beijing enjoys an advantage due to the fact that "China has not had to invest in costly R&D of new technologies to the same degree as the United States".

The report continues: "China shifted funds and efforts to acquiring technology by any means available".

After making some of the most advanced weapons in the world China is in the cusp of imposing its will in the region, which includes India. Chinese submarines, "major surface combat ships" and anti-ship and anti-air missiles all pose a threat to adversaries, he explained.

"China's leaders hope that possessing these military capabilities will deter pro-independence moves by Taiwan or, should deterrence fail, will permit a range of tailored military options against Taiwan and potential third-party military intervention", the report explained.

But some in Taiwan say worsening relations with Beijing have harmed business, as cuts to pensions and a reduction in public holidays compound frustrations over a stagnant economy where salaries have not kept up with the rise in cost of living.

The government yesterday said that it would not bow to Chinese pressure and called for the support of the worldwide community against China's "out-of-control actions" after Beijing urged Apple, Amazon.com and other foreign companies to change the way they refer to Taiwan.

Taiwan is only one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, including a trade war between the countries, US sanctions on the Chinese military, and China's increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea.

Adm. John Richardson, chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, speaks during a news conference in suburban Quezon city, Philippines.

China has planned to construct about 1.3 million kilometers of roads and 26,000 kilometers of expressways by 2020 to bolster its military's ability to mobilise more expediently across greater spans of the country, the Pentagon has told the US Congress.