Edward Cody has a very succinct article in today's Washington Post. Many of his points have been made here at Dawn's Early Light, but I would like to highlight a few paragraphs and themes:
"Several programs to improve China's armed forces could soon produce a stronger nuclear deterrent against the United States, soldiers better trained to use high-technology weapons, and more effective cruise and anti-ship missiles for use in the waters around Taiwan, according to foreign specialists and U.S. officials."
Advanced Weapons and Ships (see DEL here)
"The Chinese navy has taken delivery of two Russian-built Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyers and has six more on order, equipped with Sunburn missiles able to skim 4 1/2 feet above the water at a speed of Mach 2.5 to evade radar. In addition, it has contracted with Russia to buy eight Kilo-class diesel submarines that carry Club anti-ship missiles with a range of 145 miles.
"'These systems will present significant challenges in the event of a U.S. naval force response to a Taiwan crisis,' Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in testimony March 17."
"The Type 094 nuclear missile submarine, launched last July to replace a trouble-prone Xia-class vessel, can carry 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Married with the newly developed Julang-2 missile, which has a range of more than 5,000 miles and the ability to carry independently targeted warheads, the 094 will give China a survivable nuclear deterrent against the continental United States, according to 'Modernizing China's Military,' a study by David Shambaugh of George Washington University.
In addition, the Dongfeng-31 solid-fuel mobile ballistic missile, a three-stage, land-based equivalent of the Julang-2, has been deployed in recent years to augment the approximately 20 Dongfeng-5 liquid-fuel missiles already in service, according to academic specialists citing U.S. intelligence reports.
It will be joined in coming years by an 8,000-mile Dongfeng-41, these reports said, putting the entire United States within range of land-based Chinese ICBMs as well. 'The main purpose of that is not to attack the United States,' Lin said. 'The main purpose is to throw a monkey wrench into the decision-making process in Washington, to make the Americans think, and think again, about intervening in Taiwan, and by then the Chinese have moved in.'"
Air Superiority (See DEL here)
"Striving for air superiority over the Taiwan Strait, the air force has acquired from Russia more than 250 Sukhoi Su-27 single-role and Su-30 all-weather, multi-role fighter planes, according to Richard D. Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington. The Pentagon has forecast that, as the Sukhoi program continues to add to China's aging inventory, the air force will field about 2,000 warplanes by 2020, of which about 150 will be fourth-generation craft equipped with sophisticated avionics.
Missile Threat Across the Straight (See DEL here)
"The 2nd Artillery Corps has deployed more than 600 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan from southeastern China's Fujian and Jiangxi provinces, according to Taiwan's deputy defense minister, Michael M. Tsai. Medium-range missiles have also been developed, he said, and much of China's modernization campaign is directed at acquiring weapons and support systems that would give it air and sea superiority in any conflict over the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait."
China Stumbles with the EU on Arms Embargo (See DEL here)
"Buying such electronic equipment would be China's most likely objective if the European Union goes ahead with plans to lift its arms sales embargo despite objections from Washington, a senior European diplomat in Beijing said. A Chinese effort to acquire Israel's Phalcon airborne radar system was stymied in 2000 when the United States prevailed on Israel to back out of the $1 billion deal."
However Amphibious Capability Lacking
"But U.S. and Taiwanese officials noted that China's amphibious forces had the ability to move across the strait only one armored division -- about 12,000 men with their vehicles. That would be enough to occupy an outlying Taiwanese island as a gesture, they said, but not to seize the main island.
Instead, Taiwanese officials said, if a conflict arose, they would expect a graduated campaign of high-tech pinpoint attacks, including cruise missile strikes on key government offices or computer sabotage, designed to force the leadership in Taipei to negotiate short of all-out war. The 1996 crisis, when China test-fired missiles off the coast, cost the Taiwanese economy $20 billion in lost business and mobilization expenses, a senior security official recalled."
Defending Taiwan is becoming incrementally costly for US forces, which is China's motivation. With enough improvement and pressure and a less forceful US administration, Communist China may be able to politically coerce Taiwan to relinquish its control. The US, Japan, Australia and India must not let this happen.