Defense think tank: Taiwan must strengthen own military as threats from China loom

The Institute for National Defense and Security Research published its first annual reports today, which expounded China's military reforms

Two of China's Chengdu J-20 aircrafts

Two of China's Chengdu J-20 aircrafts (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research published its first ever batch of annual reports, recommending the state heightens military strength, as threats from China loom over the island.

The institute was established in May this year and published its first annual reports online yesterday (Dec. 12), namely: National Defense Technology Trend Assessment Report, China Military Development Assessment Report, and Indo-Pacific Safety Assessment Report.

One section of the China Military Development Assessment Report points out that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is undergoing reforms that aim to transform it from a national defense unit into an attack force with particular emphasis on combined operations. Preliminary reforms are set to be completed by 2020.

The report warns Taiwan will be first to bear the brunt of the newly reformed PLA, and China has emphasized it aims to make “the first battle a decisive one” so there is “no time for U.S. reinforcements to arrive, and “the outcome is already clear.”

It points out that China is looking to strengthen its hard power in areas other than military as well, including achieving political goals through government and private organizations, economic retaliation, forced technology transfer from foreign industries, and open threats against states and private enterprises that refuse to uphold the One China Principle.

The Communist state will heighten its intelligence-collecting operations (many of which have gained notoriety for their sheer scale and lack of regard for international and domestic law), and continue to disseminate fake news in attempt to swing international political consensus in its favor, the report also states.

Since the process is to take a number of years, however, the institute suggests Taiwan utilizes the valuable time to make military reforms of its own. The assessment report suggests Taiwan broadens its markets and invests more in defense-based national security technology.

Taiwan should break into the multinational defense technology supply chain, the report indicates, and attempt to heighten its position within international cooperative enterprises like directional energy weapons, biomorphic robotics, active defense technology and low observable technology. The state could also expand development in dual-use, civilian technology including 3D printing and drones, the report adds.

Taiwan also needs to strengthen military exchanges with its neighboring countries and allies to ensure regional peace and stability, the report suggests, but must compete against time to conceive of and realize these strategies for them to be effective.