Every year Taiwan’s Defense Ministry issues a report on the current state of the threat from China. This year the report warns the threat from the mainland is increasing and that China could potentially paralyze the island’s air defenses using cyber attacks.
In its annual report to parliament on China’s military, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry presented a far graver view than it did last year, when the report said China still lacked the capability to launch a full assault on Taiwan.
This year’s report said that China can launch what it termed “soft and hard electronic attacks”, including blocking communications across the western part of the first island chain, the string of islands that run from the Japanese archipelago, through Taiwan and down to the Philippines.
China “can combine with its internet army to launch wired and wireless attacks against the global internet, which would initially paralyse our air defences, command of the sea and counter-attack system abilities, presenting a huge threat to us”.
The report says China is also able to use missile strikes to take out command centers for Taiwan’s air and sea defenses. In short, China could at least temporarily knock out much of the island’s defenses.
The good news, if you can call it that, is that China still lacks the ability to transport the soldiers and vehicles that would be necessary for a full-scale invasion. However, there’s not much doubt they are working on that. China recently announced it would spend half-a-billion dollars building a new airport on two small islands that are the closest point to Taiwan. China is calling it a new “logistics hub” but in China any civil construction is built with dual military use in mind. The roads leading to the proposed airport have already been upgraded including construction of the “world’s longest cross-sea road-rail bridge.”
With a staggering span of 16.34 km, the bridge connects Pingtan Island and four nearby islets to the mainland of Fujian province.
In the past, Pingtan was a backwater island of humble fisheries. It did not even have a bridge connecting it to the mainland until 2010 when the Strait Bridge began operating for cars only.
In 2010, China established the Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone to facilitate cross-Strait exchange and cooperation, ramping up its efforts to improve the island’s infrastructure.
This is how China spreads it’s control, like kudzu. It doesn’t happen with a sudden move but with gradual steps which many don’t recognize as significant at the time. First a bridge to turn a fishing village into cross-straight population center, then an airport to further that goal. Who knows what will come next, maybe the construction of a new island a few miles out to sea. By the time most people realize what’s happening it’s too late to do anything about it.