Taiwan could survive initial stages of a China invasion, military head says

Holding off the People’s Liberation Army for two weeks is a key goal of Taiwan’s military. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI – The chief of Taiwan’s military told a local magazine that the island’s forces could repel an initial attack from China if they are well prepared.

“China is certainly strong enough to start a war, but it’s not so strong that it can successfully take Taiwan within one or two weeks,” Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said in an interview with CommonWealth Magazine published this week.

Mr Chiu also said “Taiwan can definitely make it through” any blockade the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) imposed, as long as it had the necessary supplies.

“There are many ways to get around a blockade and we can use the Internet and other forms of communication to break it,” he said.

Holding off the PLA for two weeks is a key goal of Taiwan’s military because it would allow time for the United States and other allies to come to the island’s aid.

Beijing’s unprecedented military drills following then US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last August included manoeuvres off major cities and both east and west of the island in what appeared to be practice for encircling Taiwan so it would be cut off from outside help.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has raised concern that Beijing would be emboldened to invade the island that it has pledged to one day bring under control. Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday urged the world to stop drawing such parallels.

Admiral Harry Harris, the former commander of US forces in the Pacific, told Congress earlier in February that the US ignores the prospect of China invading Taiwan within years “at our peril”.

Some China experts have questioned public warnings about a timeline for a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. They say Beijing would much prefer to absorb the island eventually without the use of force, as Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said publicly.

They also say that the 2027 date frequently mentioned is simply the year China has set for its military modernisation goals, rather than a hard deadline for conquering Taiwan. The PLA celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2027.

Separately, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and National Security Council secretary-general Wellington Koo met US officials in Washington on Tuesday, Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency reported.

They visited the Washington headquarters of the American Institute in Taiwan, accompanied by the island’s representative to the US, Ms Hsiao Bi-khim, the agency reported.

The US’ Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner arrived at the building at around the same time. BLOOMBERG

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