With China ramping up its military might in recent years, Taiwan stands concerned that Beijing might mount a “full scale” invasion by 2025. Taiwan’s defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng, faced with a lawmaker’s question in the country’s parliament on Wednesday, said military tensions with China are at their worst in more than 40 years – certainly the “most serious” since he joined the military. He noted that there was an added risk of “misfire” across the sensitive Taiwan Strait; and that while China already has the required arsenal to take Taiwan by force, the cost of a “full scale” war for Beijing might be at its lowest by 2025, when a potential invasion seems likely.
“For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me,” news agency Reuters quoted the Taiwan defence minister as saying at parliament. “By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration.”
Chiu Kuo-cheng, the defence minister, was answering a Taiwanese parliamentary committee reviewing special military spending of T$240 billion ($8.6 billion) for homemade weapons including missiles and warships.
Taiwan’s special military spending over the next five years will go mostly toward naval weapons including anti-ship weapons such as land-based missile systems. Taiwan is especially concerned by the recent advances made by China over the past several days when record numbers of Chinese military aircraft repeatedly flew over Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.
Over a four day period beginning last Friday, Taiwan reported close to 150 Chinese air force aircraft entered its air defence zone, part of a pattern of what Taipei calls Beijing’s continued harassment of the island.
China claims the democratic island of Taiwan as its own territory and says it should be taken by force if necessary. Taiwan resists, saying it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy in the face of China’s aggression.
The United States, Taiwan’s main military supplier, has confirmed its “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan and also criticised China. Beijing blames Washington’s policies of supporting Taiwan with arms sales and sending warships through the Taiwan Strait for raising tensions.