Taiwan ‘must prepare’ to defend itself amid threats from China

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on defending Taiwan

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Taiwan “must prepare” to defend itself amid threats from its neighbour, an expert has claimed. Cross-strait tensions reached their highest point in decades when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August.

China responded with a forceful show of war drills. Analysts claimed it was not just a show of intimidation as Beijing got to rehearse how exactly it might attack Taiwan.

More than 100 aircraft, ten destroyers and support vessels operated around Taiwan for over a week. China also sent submarines and aircraft carriers, and even fired dozens of missiles.

Writing for the Times, Richard Lloyd Parry said: “The huge unanswered question about the defence against Chinese attack is the role of the US Washington has previously avoided a commitment to defending the island, a “strategic ambiguity” that was intended to sow doubt in Chinese minds, while discouraging the Taiwanese from openly declaring independence.

“President Biden, though, has said repeatedly that he would send troops to fight off a Chinese invasion.

“Whether the next president will take the same view is unknowable so, in the meantime, Taiwan must prepare to defend itself.”

The Times reported that the geographical isolation of Taiwan, protected from the mainland by 100miles of choppy seas, gives it advantages that Ukraine lacks.

It stated: “An asymmetric defence would invest in sea mines, land-based anti-ship missiles and hundreds of small missile-launching boats, rather than big naval ships, to take out amphibious craft as they approach landing sites.

“It would equip troops with small light vehicles for lightning attacks, and with the weapons for an extended period of guerrilla warfare.”

Admiral Lee Hsi-ming, who as Taiwan’s former chief of the general staff pioneered the asymmetric defence plan, told The Times: “When you really have this kind of capability you maximise complication in the enemy’s war plan.

“Our job is not to completely destroy the enemy — it’s to freeze their invasion plan, to make them think, ‘We are not ready yet’, year after year.”

Taiwan spends two percent of its GDP on its defence budget.

The US has sold $23billion (£21billion) worth of weapons since 2010, including $6billion since 2020 alone.

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But China is spending at least 15 times more. Beijing commands the world’s largest navy and the PLA has more than two million salaried soldiers and 500,000 more in reserve.

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