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China set to invade, retake Taiwan by 2020: Taipei

TAIPEI — China has completed its planned build-up of joint forces for military engagement against Taiwan and is on its way to ensure victory in a decisive battle by 2020, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in its National Defence Report ­released today (Oct 27).

China set to invade, retake Taiwan by 2020: Taipei

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) march during the military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, Sept 3, 2015. Photo: Reuters

TAIPEI — China has completed its planned build-up of joint forces for military engagement against Taiwan and is on its way to ensure victory in a decisive battle by 2020, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in its National Defence Report ­released today (Oct 27(.

The 13th edition of the biennial report states that China has recently held military exercises simulating ­attacks by the People’s Liberation ­Army (PLA) on Taiwan’s landmarks and government buildings.

“The PLA has possessed an ­adequate deterrent force capable of launching joint military operations against Taiwan,” it said.

The PLA also continues to step up the deployment of missiles against Taiwan and aims to upgrade its long-range strike capability.

“Its goal is to be in complete combat readiness status to invade Taiwan by 2020,” the report said.

Apart from the deployment against Taiwan, China is strengthening the combat readiness of its navy and air force in the west Pacific region to avoid any foreign intervention in cross-strait conflicts, it said.

China’s navy and air force have successfully penetrated the “first island chain” on numerous occasions and hope to be able to deter foreign intervention should a war break out in the Taiwan Strait, it said. The “first island chain” refers to a strategic concept of an offshore ­defence line extending from Japan’s Okinawa and Taiwan down to the Philippines and Indonesia.

While the Taiwan Strait remains a strategic priority of China’s military development, the report said Beijing has recently attached increasingly greater importance to the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

In the East China Sea, China has increased patrols in waters off the disputed Diaoyu Islands, called Senkaku in Japan, which administers them, and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan, which also claims them.

In the South China Sea, China has not only strengthened its military presence but also continued land reclamation efforts, seeking to reaffirm its sovereignty claim over the reefs and islands in the disputed region.

The report said China’s military spending has maintained a two-digit growth over the years. While China earmarked 911.4 billion yuan (S$199.7 billion) for military spending this year, the real figure could be two to three times more, it said.

By contrast, Taiwan’s defence budget has showed a declining trend over the past decade, remaining at ­between NT$252.5 billion (S$10.8 billion) and NT$334 billion.

Taiwan and China have been governed separately since they split in a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since ­tried to isolate Taiwan, which it ­regards as a renegade province awaiting reunification by force — if necessary.

Relations between Taiwan and China have significantly improved since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou was first elected in 2008. Since then, both sides have signed 23 agreements.

Despite a cross-strait detente, many suspect the Chinese are using cross-strait trade to draw Taiwan economically closer, leading to eventual political union. KYODO NEWS

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