Taiwan pledged Wednesday to build up its military in the face of an increased risk of invasion by China in a major defence ministry report that comes as ties with Beijing worsen.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold, by force if necessary, even though the island has been self-governing since the two sides split after a civil war in 1949.

Beijing is deeply suspicious of president Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party is traditionally pro-independence.

Taiwan has never declared formal independence and last week China’s premier Li Keqiang said authorities would not tolerate “any attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland”.

It has severed all official communications with Taipei since Tsai became leader in May and has reportedly discouraged Chinese visitors from travelling to the island.

In a summary of a four-yearly report to be delivered to parliament Thursday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it wanted to build a bolstered “multi-layer defence front” including submarines, missiles and drones which it hoped would act as a deterrent.

If there was still an attempted invasion, combined interception forces would “weaken the enemy’s capabilities and crush its attacks to deter it from landing on the island”.

The report summary said Beijing had never given up on its desire to invade.

“Preparing for a war to invade Taiwan is a major goal of its military preparation,” the summary said.

It added China’s military expenses had been growing and its resources had seen “rapid modernisation”.

In contrast, Taiwan had limited capabilities and was suffering from a lack of soldiers.

To address its weaknesses, the island would focus on developing three key areas — aerospace, shipbuilding and information security — and would seek to develop more of its own weapons, the ministry said.

Beijing sent its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Strait in January as a show of strength, but it did not enter Taiwanese waters.

Since then Taiwan has announced a ramping up of its military, including the development of new stealth fighter jets and a locally built fleet of jet trainers.

Currently the United States, its most powerful ally, is its main arms supplier, even though the two sides do not have official diplomatic ties after Washington switched recognition to Beijing in 1979.

There have been concerns Taiwan will become a bargaining chip between the US and China since Donald Trump angered Beijing with a protocol-busting telephone conversation with Tsai following his election victory.

Trump and China’s president Xi Jinping subsequently smoothed over the dispute in a phone call in which the US leader reiterated Washington’s adherence to the “one China” policy that nominally endorses Beijing’s claim to Taiwan.

China and the United States are currently discussing arrangements for a summit between Trump and Xi.

The defence ministry report made little mention of US ties, saying only that the US “maintains its deployment in Asia Pacific” and conducts military drills with allies.

  • Disqualifyer

    Problem here, is allegiance. If corrupt interests win-over, Taiwan seeks independence, and war is started…quietly at first, and then all-of-a-sudden…simply put, China does not want to be invaded again…by whatever the excuse may be: foreign colonialist interests…Now, in the modern era, we have democratic nations, that allow US militarism to base its forces, particularly nuclear weapons close to home. And, this is a major issue. Now, from the Chinese perspective, the correct position is to invade. From the Taiwan point, it is to resist at first, but to capitulate quickly…so as to save lives…Now, if Taiwan accepts US military presence, then, WWIII becomes a very real possibility…nuclear weapons make this a no-win situation.
    But, freedom from authoritarian rule, is what all people want, regardless of creed. So, we say this…China's interests and Taiwan's, need to be formulated in a cohesive manner…the Taiwanese need to be less irresponsible, when they elect their leaders..but, the Chinese mainland, needs to be less threatening…Can they compromise? – of course, but it requires true leadership…leadership is not behaving as others do…it is about evaluating circumstances, and formulating solutions…with war being the absolute last possibility. Chinese authority needs a form of people-first restriction; the leadership is only responsible to the party, and the party responsible to no one, except each other…this can be the root of corruption…China needs its own anti-corruption department…capable of sacking anyone. Elected by the people…would it be independent of, or part of the military? – would it be on equal footing, with its own military force, to weed out corruption? and, would it work? As it is, any leadership, with an all-knowing, all-seeing entity at its head fails miserably, because no single individual is that astute. We place the notion of such a leader on a pedestal, as is the case with 'God'; an imaginary incarnation…So, we must be realistic, an know, that no bureaucrat can be effective in managing all things…

  • BatoStone

    fake China is weaker if it doesn't control Taiwan since it cannot project it power towards beyond Taiwan. Chinese submarines, ships can be easily detected if Taiwan still on US side.

    Bye-bye fake China …

    • Civil_Rights

      The fact is that China can only invade a defenseless country like Philippines but afraid of invading Taiwan with a force to reckon with for fear of much bigger stake of losses, a characteristic of bully. As long as US remain committed to Taiwan democractic process and governance Chinese is nothing but a peace of paper tiger. China has been threatening Taiwan invasion for several decades just like an empty container and continue propelling NKorean desire of acquiring nuclear weapons and ballistic missile.