After a signing of a major arms deal with the US, Taiwan’s government has said the new weapons will help the island achieve its goal of being able to destroy “half of any (Chinese) PLA invasion force by 2025”.
The stark comments come amid deteriorating relations and heated rhetoric between mainland China and self-governed Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own break-away province and has threatened to take back by force.
Deputy defence minister Chang Che-ping said of the 2025 target: “We hope to increase the number [of missiles] so that we can build up our combat power before then.”
According to the US State Department, the new weapons will allow Taiwan to deploy a “highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggression, coastal blockades and amphibious assaults”.
“This capability will easily integrate into existing force infrastructure. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces,” it said.
The arms deal comes amid rising tensions not just between China and Taiwan, but also Washington and Beijing as president Donald Trump fights a re-election campaign, in which he has described China as the US’s greatest adversary.
Just before Monday’s missile deal was announced, China said it was imposing sanctions on Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defence, Raytheon and other US companies it said were involved in earlier arms sales to Taiwan.
China‘s defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said the US arms sale to Taiwan “could not work and would only lead to a dead-end”.
“[The] Chinese military has resolute determination, full confidence and enough capabilities to thwart all kinds of foreign interference and pro-independence moves... China will continue pushing forward the unification process,” Ren said.
At the same time, Taiwan has said it is not engaged in any “arms race” with China. Wang Ting-yu, a Taiwanese politician, told Bloomberg Taiwan’s defence efforts were part of a “hedgehog” strategy.
“We need to defend ourselves, so when we develop our capability we try to be hedgehog-like. When a lion tries to swallow a hedgehog, it will hurt - so no lion will try to swallow a hedgehog.”
The latest arms deal between the US and Taiwan is the second in a week and the ninth approved since Donald Trump became president in January 2017.