To Counter China’s Military Build-Up, Taiwan Must Go Asymmetric

To Counter China’s Military Build-Up, Taiwan Must Go Asymmetric

Over the weekend, photos and video surfaced of China's newly commissioned aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, conducting carrier aircraft operations for the first time. The development marked a major milestone in the rapid modernization of China’s armed forces.

Across the Taiwan Strait several weeks prior, however, another notable development occurred to less fanfare: Taiwan conducted tests of a new "carrier killer" anti-ship missile that many speculate was intended as a not so subtle signal to Beijing. The missile, according to multiple sources, was tested by the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology and is thought to be an advanced version of the Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missile. According to the Taipei Times, the missile "is reported to have a range of 250 miles and is capable of reaching Mach 3." Such a weapon would be difficult to defend against and poses a significant challenge to any potential foe if developed in sufficient numbers.

While both nations possess advanced military weaponry, China has leapfrogged Taiwan in both quantity and quality over the past decade. As a result, the military balance in the Taiwan Strait has shifted dramatically in China’s favor. While its new aircraft carrier has stolen the headlines, it is China’s missile-centric approach to military strategy that has most greatly changed the status quo. With more than 1,000 missiles pointed at Taiwan combined with fourth-generation fighter aircraft, modern diesel-electric submarines, ever-growing numbers of modern naval surface combatants and long-range cruise and anti-ship missiles, Beijing enjoys an increasing balance of forces that could render Taiwan’s national defenses almost meaningless in the face of a Chinese attack.

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