Could Taiwan Stop an Invasion By China?

David Axe

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen’s January 2020 re-election could signal another four years of stiff defiance to Chinese aggression for the island country. But Taiwan should reconsider its defensive strategy, Iain Marlow wrote for Bloomberg.

“In her first term, President Tsai Ing-wen secured more than $10 billion in high-profile U.S. weapons to defend Taiwan against China,” Marlow wrote. “Over the next four years, it may be more important to acquire less glamorous but nimbler weapons to prevent Beijing from considering an invasion.”

During her first term, the staunchly pro-independence Tsai worked hard to secure from the United States deals for weaponry worth more than $10 billion, including 60 new F-16 fighters and 108 M-1A2 tanks. Taiwan also launched an ambitious program to develop, with American assistance, a new class of diesel-electric attack submarines.

But over the next four years, Tsei and her government could take a different approach. “Many of the things Taiwan needs at this point are not things that require the U.S. to sell them,” Scott Harold, an analyst at RAND, a California think tank.

Instead of fighters and tanks, Taiwan should acquire “the sorts of survivable, low-profile and networked defenses that can survive an initial Chinese attack and be resilient and lethal for weeks or months.”

China with its 1.4 billlion people, after all, possesses far more ships, planes, vehicles and soldiers than does Taiwan with its population of just 23 million. Beijing spends 25 times more on its armed forces than Taiwan does on its own military.

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