TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The latest annual report by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) states that China has acquired an "initial capability" to invade Taiwan with over 25,000 troops.
In Chapter 4 of the 539-page report titled, "A Dangerous Period for Cross-strait Deterrence: Chinese Military Capabilities and Decision-making For a War over Taiwan," the USCC wrote that cross-strait deterrence has entered a period of "dangerous uncertainty" due to advancements in the capabilities of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
It pointed out the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken an increasingly coercive approach toward Taiwan with "almost daily pressure on the cross-strait status quo," heightening the possibility of a military confrontation. The report stated that over the past 20 years, the PLA has systematically planned, trained, and built the forces necessary for an invasion of Taiwan.
It now can launch naval and air blockades, cyber attacks, and missile attacks against Taiwan, the report said. It then warned that PLA leaders "likely assess they have, or will soon have, the initial capability" required to invade Taiwan if commanded to do so by CCP leadership.
The document added the PLA will continue to strengthen this capability in the future. According to the report, the PLA's naval and air forces can already carry out an "initial landing force" of 25,000 or more soldiers.
It pointed out that China can now call upon civilian ships so the PLA can deliver more troops to Taiwan once a beachhead has been established. The authors of the report said they were increasingly concerned whether conventional U.S. forces would be sufficient to deter China from launching an attack on Taiwan.
They wrote that deterrence could crumble if Chinese leaders believe the U.S. is not militarily capable or politically willing to step in. U.S. ambiguity could be taken as meaning that Washington would not provide a forceful response if China takes aggressive action.
However, the report said cross-strait deterrence works at the moment because Chinese leaders are not certain whether an invasion of Taiwan would succeed, with the risks and consequences of such an attack still giving them pause. If a PLA invasion of Taiwan fails, or it was unable to prevent U.S. intervention, it could "unleash a chain of events that undermine the CCP’s popular legitimacy and generate calls for political change."
The paper recommends that Congress take "urgent measures" to bolster the credibility of U.S. military deterrence in the short term and honor its commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act. Among the actions the report recommended were the deployment of "large numbers of" anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) and anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) in the Indo-Pacific.
In addition, although the report commends Taiwan for developing its asymmetric warfare capabilities and its success in developing indigenous missiles, it points out that Taiwan faces serious challenges after many years of underinvestment in its defenses. As a result, Taiwan now finds itself with inadequate stockpiles of critical supplies in the event of a PLA blockade, while some military leaders are also still resisting a more thorough adoption of an asymmetric strategy.