A Taiwanese defense report has raised concerns over China’s Military modernization efforts and its recent drills around Taiwan.
“The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in [China’s] military threat capabilities,” underlining the need for Taiwan to defend itself, said the draft report, which has been seen by Reuters.
Titled The 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the report is due to be presented to the Taiwanese parliament on Thursday by Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan.
“In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability,” the report said, referring to the Chinese military activities.
“The country’s military development and Taiwan’s freedom and prosperity are the same living body,” according to the draft document.
The quadrennial review was the first since President Tsai Ing-wen rose to power in Taiwan last May. Tsai hails from the Democratic Progressive Party, which traditionally advocates independence for the island.
This file photo, taken on December 24, 2016, shows the Liaoning, China’s only aircraft carrier, sailing during military drills in the Pacific. (By AFP)
Beijing, which regards self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province, has been expanding air and sea Military Drills
in waters surrounding the island. The increased military activities began roughly during a surge in tensions with Taipei, initiated by controversial rhetoric and action by US President Donald Trump.
Trump caused a ruckus when he took a phone call from Tsai, breaking with diplomatic protocol that stipulated formal ties with Beijing and not Taipei. He continued to engage in rhetoric that left the impression that he might stop recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. Although he later backtracked, upholding the so-called One China policy, his behavior is believed to have emboldened the independence bid in Taiwan.
The Taiwanese defense paper further pointed to Japan’s move away from its pacifist constitution “to strengthen its armaments and lift a ban on using troops abroad” as likely to have profound consequences on the security situation in the Asia-Pacific and the Taiwan Strait.
An amphibious assault vehicle enters the water during an annual drill at the Tsoying navy base in southern Taiwan, January 18, 2017. Taiwan conducted the military drills simulating an attack by China. (Photo by AFP)
Reports indicate that Japan plans to send its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, which will represent its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.
The QDR report also cited uncertainties about the “strategic direction and troop deployment” of the US in the Asia-Pacific region under the new administration of President Donald Trump as another security challenge to Taiwan.
This is while the US remains Taiwan’s leading ally and arms supplier and is bound by congressional law to provide the means to help the island defend itself.