Taiwan’s military announced publicly for the first time Thursday that it could carry out strikes on the Chinese mainland in the event of a conflict.
Reporting on the island’s military capabilities, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told parliament that the military had the ability to launch missiles deep into Chinese territory. Officials claim Taiwan can fire missiles at Chinese bases 620 miles away, reports The China Post. During a Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, Lt. Gen. Chiang Chen-chung confirmed that Taiwan has these capabilities. “We do have the capability and we are continuing to reinforce such capability,” he said.
Feng also said he wanted to raise the defense budget to its highest level in 10 years.
“Should the enemy insist on invading, we will weaken their capabilities by striking enemy troops at their home bases, fighting them at sea, crushing them as they approach the coastlines and wiping them out on the beaches,” an accompanying defense report explained.
“It is the first time the ministry has confirmed this,” lawmaker Wang Ting-yu told AFP reporters.
If Taiwan actually has the capabilities it claims, most Chinese military bases are in range. The closest base is 150 miles away, and the farthest is around 800 miles away.
Taiwan’s military capabilities are dwarfed by those of China, which has an estimated 1,500 missiles aimed at Taiwan and has an army with two million more men.
The Chinese civil war that left the island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland governed by separate administrations never ended, as a peace treaty resolving the conflict was never signed. The Communists seized control of the mainland in 1949, establishing the People’s Republic of China, and the ousted Republic of China government fled to Taiwan with the Nationalist troops.
After years of ignoring China and recognizing Taiwan, the U.S. severed ties with Taipei in the 1970s to develop relations with Beijing. While the U.S. does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the U.S. has a security agreement with the island and regularly supplies arms and other services. The U.S. also maintains an informal diplomatic outpost.
The relationship between Beijing and Taipei is extremely tense. It has deteriorated significantly since Tsai Ing-wen, who has pro-independence leanings, was elected as president last summer.
China is firmly against Taiwan’s independence.
“We will never tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland,” China’s Premier Li Keqiang said earlier this month.
A top Chinese adviser revealed recently that voices demanding reunification by force are growing louder. In recent months, Beijing has said over and over again that the one China principle is a non-negotiable bottom line.
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