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Fear of China: Taiwan is arming itself - strong military should make invasion practically impossible


Taiwan is buying modern war equipment in the face of growing tensions with the People's Republic of China. Taipei wants to make an invasion almost impossible and relies on deterrence.

Taiwan is buying modern war equipment in the face of growing tensions with the People's Republic of China.

Taipei wants to make an invasion almost impossible and relies on deterrence.

  • The government in Taipei is buying new military equipment and is even having its own systems developed again.

  • The development is understandable: under Xi Jinping, the People's Republic is giving ever clearer signals of strength. 

  • Upgrading works like escalation, but it could follow its own well-balanced logic.

  • This article is available to


    part of a cooperation with the 

    China.Table Professional Briefing



    first published it 

     on September 13, 2021.

Taipei / Berlin - The "aircraft carrier killer" is a domestic product, it comes from the Taiwanese shipyard Lung Teh Shipbuilding. That is reason enough for Taiwan's * President Tsai Ing-wen to travel to the small port town of Su'ao on the east coast of the island to commission the new warship at the beginning of September and give a short speech on the defense capabilities of her country. "We are well on the way to becoming independent in the area of ​​national defense," news agencies quoted the president as saying. These are strong words. The general perception is that Taiwan's security depends primarily on protection from the US *. But Tsai now wants to at least significantly strengthen its independence.

This tendency towards two-way work with more ties to the major alliance partner and, at the same time, more in-house developments is also reflected in the Taipei government's report on Taiwan's defense capabilities, which appears only every four years.

Several interesting facts emerge from the second "Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)":

  • Taiwan is actively trying to adapt to the changed capabilities of the People's Liberation Army.

  • The focus is on repelling an invasion well off the coast, including through the use of guided weapons and drones.

  • If the landing forces cannot be stopped, infantry should stop their advance.

  • Instead of large contingents of troops, Taiwan wants to set up mobile and technical units.

    The procurement priorities are derived from this.

  • Another focus is the ability to strike long-range in order to fend off approaching ships.

    In addition, it should be possible to prevent Chinese troops from preparing on the mainland before they leave.

    As early as this year, Taiwan intends to acquire and develop new missile systems that are “suitable for long distances, accurate and mobile”.

  • Integration into the US armed forces continues to deepen.

    The systems are completely compatible: fire control computers work on the same platform, computer systems have interfaces, spare parts are interchangeable, the device is familiar from exercises, etc.

  • The defense capabilities will be "asymmetrical".

    China's People's Liberation Army * will always keep the numerical superiority.

    However, the aim is not to shut them down completely - just to prevent them from landing soldiers.

According to analysts, Taiwan is now implementing the conclusions of the defense report.

"In 2021, Taiwan began procuring the military hardware required by the QDR," writes Thomas J. Shattuk of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

“Taiwan has to build up its military capabilities today, not in 2025.” Because

the ever better equipment of the People's Liberation Army creates a defensive gap that is growing with each passing year.

Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng has therefore awarded corresponding research contracts to the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology.

Taiwan: Camouflage corvette with anti-ship missiles

The new corvette, nicknamed “Aircraft Carrier Killer”, is an important part of the new concept. Officially, it is the so-called Tuo-Chiang class of warships. With a length of 60 meters, these are smaller than frigates, but full of modern technology right up to the top. The shape of the wedge-shaped ship hides itself from radar. Above all, however, it is equipped with anti-ship missiles of the Hsing Feng III type, which are difficult to repel even by aircraft carrier associations. The Ta Chiang recently put into service by Tsai Ing-wen is the second example of this class. Four more are to follow.

The trend towards armament is understandable.

Taiwan in its current political form is acutely threatened in its existence.

The People's Republic denies the island its status as an independent state.

Beijing treats Taiwan not only rhetorically but also in practical terms as part of its territory.

The concerns are heightened by military maneuvers and routine provocations, which China - according to its growing military capabilities - carries out with better and better equipment.

A current study by the US military think tank Project 2049 examines the question of what an invasion of Taiwan might look like in practice.

The authors assume that the Chinese army plans to use thousands of civilian ships to transport millions of soldiers to Taiwan.

Taiwan: Making invasion from mainland China nearly impossible

But the numbers also show how difficult and ultimately unlikely such an invasion is.

If it were a mere victory against a hostile country, the case would be clear: The People's Liberation Army would quickly have military sovereignty with bombs and missiles.

But an attack with heavy artillery is out of the question: According to the reading of the People's Republic, the inhabitants of the island are considered to be citizens of their own.

According to this logic, they are just as protected by the communist government as the inhabitants of the mainland.

So little should happen to civilians, at least.

A conquest must therefore be carried out with foot soldiers - street by street, house by house.

And this in a place where almost all adult men have done military service and hardly anyone wants to live under Chinese rule.

The mere plan to bring Taiwan's ports under control is likely to pose considerable problems for the Admiralty of the People's Liberation Army.

It doesn't help that the Chinese troops can eliminate the Taiwanese air force and large parts of the local navy comparatively quickly.


A Taiwanese tank exercises coastal defense during this year's Hankang maneuver.

© Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi / IMAGO / ZUMA

Taiwan: The Logic of Deterrence

President Tsai and Taiwan's allies know at the same time that they must by no means make things easy for China *. Signs of weakness would upset the existing equilibrium just as exaggerated threatening gestures. A loophole in the Taiwanese defense would force Xi to seize the opportunity. Finally, some hardliners in the people and leadership are pushing for the supposed shame of the split to be corrected.

A balance of forces is therefore also important for those who on the side of the People's Republic are rattling their sabers but want to avoid a real war.

However, since China is arming roughly in step with its technical and economic development, Taiwan also needs more and more modern weapons.

Analysts have long noticed a certain connection between the rise in the Chinese defense budget and US arms deliveries to Taiwan.

According to this logic, the commissioning of the new camouflage corvette Ta Chiang is only logical.

After all, China has several of its own aircraft carriers laid on the keel.

The third and so far largest of the ships is currently under construction.

When the other side hits a new aircraft carrier, Tsai sends a new aircraft carrier killer onto the water.

China and Taiwan: World politics endangers the delicate balance

Unfortunately, that does not mean that there is a particularly stable equilibrium.

Too much is changing in global politics at the moment, and this also applies to Taiwan:

  • China itself gives the powerhouse;

    The era of foreign policy restraint is definitely over under President Xi Jinping *.

  • The US-China relationship * has been in the basement since the Americans realized the realities of unequal trade.

  • The US is withdrawing inward under both Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as the departure from Afghanistan shows *.

  • In the United States, there is an idea in important circles that Xi Jinping is pushing for forced reunification.

    This in turn creates nervousness there - and that is never a good advisor when the status quo is tricky.

But even the hawks at the American RAND research institute are not calling for excessive armament.

They, too, advise pulling along with China's growing capabilities - not surpassing them.

Credible threats keep the peace for the time being

If it wants to be able to defend itself, Taiwan must now be able to make the following points credible:

  • An attack on the island would by no means be a simple, glorious victory, but rather dirty and thus costly in foreign and domestic politics.

  • The invasion would not be quick; it would certainly be protracted.

    A silent, sudden land seizure such as the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 must be ruled out.

  • The chance of an absolute debacle with an ongoing war against the US and its allies Japan and South Korea plus international sanctions must be high.

So far, all three points have been given.

Japan * has also increased its expressions of solidarity in the past few weeks.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has made it clear that Taiwan's security is one of Japan's very best interests.

Tokyo speaks such clear words mostly in coordination with Washington.

All of this makes speculations by analysts in America and Taiwan about Xi as the attacker seem unrealistic at first.

Even the strong man cannot convincingly present the logic of an attack to his party.

However, the prerequisite is that the threatening backdrop remains credible.

The new killer ships, guided missiles and drones are used for this.

This interview was published on September 13, 2021 in the China.Table Professional Briefing newsletter - as part of a cooperation, it is now also available to readers of the IPPEN.MEDIA portals.

* is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

* is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA

By Finn Mayer-Kuckuk

Finn Mayer-Kuckuk has been



chief of the


briefing format 

since May 2021 


Before that, he was the capital correspondent for the Federal Press Conference in Berlin and China correspondent for the


 and the DuMont Group,

among others 


Among other things, he reports on the interaction between the Chinese and German economies, digitization and IT, as well as China trends in the German capital.

Note: In analyzes of Taiwan, China.Table uses the local transliteration instead of the official transliteration of the People's Republic, Pinyin, which is otherwise used on


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© China.Table Professional Briefing

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2021-09-18

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