WASHINGTON (THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - 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 US report released on Wednesday (Nov 17).
The report to Congress of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission shows concerns over declining US deterrence, saying that "it has become less certain that US 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, cyber attacks 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 said, is the fact that the Chinese military still suffers from significant weaknesses in joint operations and personnel quality.
The report said any near-term invasion would remain a high-risk option.
These risks include destabilising trade and supply chains, being isolated by the international community, as well as having to confront the US military.
With China also currently building "hundreds of new silos" for intercontinental ballistic missiles, the report said "these qualitative and quantitative changes to China's nuclear forces signal a clear departure from the country's historically minimalist nuclear posture".
Among its recommendations, the report suggested authorising and funding the deployment of large numbers of antiship cruise and ballistic missiles in the Indo-Pacific.
It also asked for better and more survivable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the East and South China Seas.