Taiwan needs to buy more advanced weapons and build up its defensive capabilities in the face of the mainland's continued military expansion, the island's military said yesterday.
In a report delivered to the island's legislature, the defence ministry said such moves were necessary because Beijing maintained its position of not abandoning the use of force against Taiwan and had continued to treat the island as its major target to prevent it from declaring formal independence.
"Through various drills involving warplanes and deployments of anti-missile troops along the coast, the Chinese Communists hope to possess a massive attack ability by 2020 to repel Taiwanese independence and prompt cross-strait unification," the ministry said in the report.
Despite warming cross-strait ties since the mainland-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president and adopted a policy of engaging Beijing in 2008, the mainland has reportedly acquired more than 1,300 missiles aimed at the island. Beijing has considered Taiwan a part of its territory, subject to eventual reunification, ever since the end of the civil war in 1949.
The ministry's report came as the Pentagon admitted that it might no longer be able to come to Taiwan's immediate aid should a cross-strait war break out. A report in The Washington Post on Saturday said the Pentagon had "now accepted that an attack by Beijing on Taiwan could not be successfully turned back by US planes and ships".
"The dense deployment of missile batteries along the mainland Chinese coast has shifted the immediate balance of power, meaning the United States will now depend on its ability to inflict massive retaliatory damage to deter China from crossing the Taiwan Strait," the report said, quoting an unnamed senior military planner from the Pentagon.
"We can no longer be a shield," the planner said, adding "we have to switch to being an effective spear".
Taiwan's defence ministry declined to comment, saying it had long been the military's plan to build an effective and efficient force in order to defend the island.
Meanwhile, Wang Chin-wang, the head of Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration, told the legislature yesterday his agency would continue to exchange information with the mainland to curb cross-strait crimes in line with an agreement signed by the two sides. But he said Taiwan would not work with the mainland in patrol missions in the East and South China seas, despite repeated calls from the mainland for such co-operation.