Is Taiwan Prepared for a Possible Chinese Invasion?

The People's Republic of China maintains its intentions to bring Taiwan under its sovereignty.

flags of China and Taiwan

Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Está Taiwán preparada para una posible invasión china?

Recently, the Chinese People's Army has been carrying out a new series of military exercises simulating a waterborne invasion of the island. Given this panorama, the possibilities that the island has to defend itself from the superpower that they have a few kilometers from their coasts arise.

Taiwan's Armed Forces comprise the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Police. From 2022, Taiwan proposed to increase its military spending by almost 14% more than the previous year. This amounts to more than 19,000 million dollars to spend in 2023 destined solely for the defense of the island.

This military force represents approximately 300,000 active military and more than 3,800,000 reservists. Most of its population has experience in the use of weapons and military tactics, since the majority of men over 18 years of age must serve in the military.

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It also has many aircraft. Such as 150 American-made F16 aircraft, 60 French Mirage 2000s, Oliver Hazard-class frigates, 100 AH-1 Cobra and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters, as well as 3 Patriot PAC-II SAMs anti-missile batteries, and 2 Dutch Han Lung submarines, among many others. 

Despite the significant inventory, most of these devices are old and might not be fully equipped for a modern battle against a superpower like China. However, with Taipei's rearmament policy, purchase orders for different equipment and arsenals have increased for several years in order to better cope with a Chinese attack.

The Power of China

For its part, China Beijing is one of the greatest military powers on the planet. It is the strongest army in the world, with 2 million troops and a reserve of 500,000 people. Additionally, it has an annual expenditure of 230 billion dollars, which is equivalent to 1.3% of its GDP, according to data from 2019.

For example, it has more than 70 submarines (4 of these ballistic with nuclear capability), it has the largest navy in the world, with 351 combat ships, higher than the 294 of the United States. Despite the increase in the number of combat ships, it is true that they are not necessarily the most powerful. The American superpower still leads China in the number of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

In addition, China also has DF-17 missiles that are deployed from space and can counter air defense systems. China being the 3rd nuclear superpower, with a total of 350 active nuclear warheads. Although Beijing expects to increase to 1,500 by 2035, according to information from the Pentagon.

Taiwan's Secret Weapon

Although China leads Taiwan in almost every military aspect, the small island has an ace up its sleeve. It is about its cooperative relationship with the United States and different neighbors. If it is true that today the North American superpower does not have a defense treaty that explicitly specifies that it is obliged to go to war as in NATO (it did in 1955 with the Mutual Defense Treaty, but it was cancelled), the United States and Taiwan are strong allies.

Currently, there is a Relations Act with Taiwan that allows it to provide the island with defensive material against invading attacks. The treaty has an ambiguity in the forms and amount of provision that the United States can give, and this is precisely what guarantees that the western country will be able to directly support its ally. Additionally, several Taiwan neighbors such as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines do have defense agreements with the United States and could act if China takes a confrontational attitude with the island. All these countries fear the expansionist interests of China and could cooperate and help Taiwan if it is threatened, just like the European countries with Ukraine.

In this way, in the face of any foreign attack that targets the islands of Taiwan and Pescadores Islands, the United States will have the obligation to defend with all necessary means.

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