U.S. gov’t report calls for reforms to deter China in Taiwan Strait

A U.S. government report published Wednesday has called for improved military deterrence and arms sales to Taiwan in light of growing challenges posed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the Taiwan Strait.

In its Annual Report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), an independent agency of the U.S. government, recommended congressional lawmakers "take urgent measures to strengthen the credibility of U.S. military deterrence in the near term."

The report also said Congress should take either legislative or administrative action to "resist any resort to force that would jeopardize the security of Taiwan" in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.

In particular, the report said Congress could authorize the funding of the deployment of large numbers of anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as precision munitions in the Indo-Pacific.

Congress could also authorize and fund measures to expand the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's surveillance and defense capabilities in the region, the report said.

In addition, Congress should "enhance Taiwan's ability to purchase U.S. defense articles and accelerate the process for their sale and delivery to Taiwan," the report said.

This can be done by authorizing funds for Taiwan to purchase defense articles from the U.S. or amending laws to allow for faster delivery of U.S. arms to Taiwan, the report added.

The report's recommendations were the result of the commission's assessment that "the PLA either has or is close to achieving an initial capability to invade Taiwan" while deterring, delaying or defeating U.S. military intervention.

The report pointed out that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders remained deeply concerned about the uncertain success of an attempted invasion against Taiwan because "failed attempts by the PLA to invade Taiwan or to counter U.S. intervention risk undermining the CCP's legitimacy."

However, the report went on to highlight the fact that Beijing's "increasingly coercive approach to Taiwan puts almost daily pressure on the cross-strait status quo and increases the potential for a military crisis."

The PLA "has already achieved the capabilities needed to conduct an air and naval blockade, cyberattacks, and missile strikes against Taiwan," the report said, estimating the PLA could at present carry an initial landing of 25,000 or more troops on Taiwan.

Moreover, China has "developed substantial capabilities to use civilian ships in military operations, providing capacity for the PLA to land additional troops on Taiwan after securing a beachhead."

Under these circumstances, it has become less certain that U.S. conventional military forces alone would continue to deter China's leaders from initiating an attack on Taiwan, the report said.

The report also noted that while Taiwan had taken important steps toward asymmetrically defending against a PLA attack, the island faced "significant challenges from decades of underinvestment in defense."

"Some military leaders are also resisting steps to adopt a more asymmetric posture," it added, without elaborating.

The USCC was created by Congress to "monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship" between the U.S. and China, the commission says on its website.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel