Taiwan can fend off first wave of attack by China: minister

Defense minister says U.S. and Japan may come to Taiwan's aid after PLA attack, 'if in their interests'

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) told legislators yesterday (Feb. 25) that Taiwan's military can fend off an attack by China, and the U.S. and Japan may come to the country's aid, "if it's in their interests," reported CNA.

When asked by legislators yesterday to respond to a comment by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen during a CNN interview last week about the military's plans to deal with the first wave of attacks from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), Yen outlined the overall strategy to deal with such a scenario. Yen also discussed the conditions in which the U.S. and Japan may come to Taiwan's aid.

When Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) asked what preparations are in place to deal with the first wave of PLA attacks, Yen said the defense operations are divided into two stages: force protection and deployment of combat power. Yen said many preparations have been made to protect Taiwan's forces, with the key to combat effectiveness being that they are all mechanized to evade the enemy's first strike.

In the second stage, counter attacks will be launched, said Yen. Taiwan will also rapidly mobilize 200,000 active-duty troops and 900,000 reservists, according to Yen.

When Lo questioned the Army's ability to counter the marshaling of PLA forces across the Taiwan Strait, Yen said this would be "no problem." Yen said that forces will surveil, identify, and select targets, before annihilating them.

When asked if Taiwan had the ability to launch preemptive strikes, Yen said it does, but that he was "not at the liberty to go into detail."

Lo then said, "some people say that the nation's army cannot last more than two days." In response, Yen said "This statement is unfair, it's even a kind of slander. Soldiers from the three branches of the military are constantly training and taking part in disaster relief, people from all walks of life can see this."

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) then asked Yen whether the U.S. would come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of an attack by China. Yen said that this would be an issue of regional security to the U.S., and it would act if it felt it "endangered the interests of the U.S."

"If it jeopardizes regional security and international order, countries in the region will also make such choices," said Yen.

Tseng then asked if Japan would come to Taiwan's aid in the event of an attack by China. Yen said that because it is so close, "of course it's possible."

When asked if the Philippines would get involved, Yen said, "I can't answer that one for you."

KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) then asked whether the U.S. had made any specific written commitment to Taiwan from the past to the present. Yen responded by saying that there is no written commitment.

Chiang then asked under what specific conditions would China attack Taiwan. Yen responded by saying, "if Taiwan independence or foreign forces were involved."

Chiang then asked, "if Taiwan independence was declared, would the U.S. send troops to defend it?" Yen answered by saying, "The U.S. policy is one China, but it will still judge based on the situation in the whole region."