China could make ‘high-risk’ Taiwan invasion amid declining U.S. deterrence, U.S. report says

Reuters file photo
Flags of Taiwan and U.S. are placed for a meeting in Taipei in March 2018.

WASHINGTON — China’s military leaders “now likely assess they have, or will soon have, the initial capability needed to conduct a high-risk invasion of Taiwan if ordered to do so,” according to an annual U.S. report released Wednesday.

The report to Congress of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission shows concerns over declining U.S. deterrence, saying that “it has become less certain that U.S. conventional military forces alone will continue to deter China’s leaders from initiating an attack on Taiwan.”

The developments cited in reaching this conclusion include the Chinese military having “already achieved the capabilities needed to conduct an air and naval blockade, cyberattacks, and missile strikes against Taiwan” and that “for nearly two decades” China’s military “has systematically planned, trained, and built the forces it believes are required to invade the island.”

“Contributing to uncertainty among China’s top leaders,” the report says, is the fact that the Chinese military “still suffers from significant weaknesses in joint operations and personnel quality.”

The report adds, “Any near-term … invasion would remain a high-risk option.”

These risks include destabilizing trade and supply chains, being isolated by the international community, as well as having to confront the U.S. military.

With China also currently building “hundreds of new silos” for intercontinental ballistic missiles, the report says, “These qualitative and quantitative changes to China’s nuclear forces signal a clear departure from the country’s historically minimalist nuclear posture.”

In its recommendations to Congress, the report suggests authorizing and funding the following: “the deployment of large numbers of antiship cruise and ballistic missiles in the Indo-Pacific” and the requests of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command “for better and more survivable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in the East and South China Seas.”