China threatening regional stability, says Taiwan defense report

Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 11 2019 09:48 PM

China is undermining stability across the Taiwan Strait and Asian-Pacific region, Taiwan's defense ministry said in its biennial defense white paper.

The 2019 National Defense Report is the second since President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office in May 2016. The report, themed on "protector of peace," says China poses threats in three main areas.

One is its heightened military activities in regional waters, including the Taiwan Strait, the Bashi Channel to the south of Taiwan, the western Pacific and Japanese waters.

In addition to China's frequent patrols in the region, the growing might of the People's Liberation Army has broken the bonds of the "first island chain" and reached the "second island chain," not only threatening Taiwan's security and safety, but also pressuring other countries in the region.

Taiwan's east coast used to be its rearguard, but is now a potential frontline of war with the breach of the island chains by the PLA, the report said.

The so-called "first island chain" is a sea defense line formed by the Aleutians, the Kuriles, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the Philippines and Borneo.

The second island chain refers to a strategic line of defense east of the "first island chain" linking Japan's Ogasawara Islands and the Mariana Islands.

There is also China's cyber threat and distribution of disinformation through cyberspace.

While the report did not divulge the number of China's cyberattacks, the Department of Cyber Security of the Executive Yuan, or the cabinet, said in April last year that public offices were hit by cyberattacks on an average of over 20 million times a month. It pointed out that 80 percent of the cyberattacks Taiwan suffers were from China and their success rate was on the rise.

One of the report's authors, Wong Ming-hisen, said the quality and quantity of Chinese cyberattacks have increased over the past couple of years.

"China's cyberattack groups not only attack Taiwan, but also use Taiwan as a springboard to attack other countries such as the United States or Japan," said the professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.

Advancement in the PLA's cyber warfare capabilities is part of the goals Chinese leader Xi Jinping has set for the world's largest armed force, which include its becoming mechanized by 2020, modernized by 2035 and world-class by the mid-21st century.

While it is difficult to engage in an arms race with China, it is critical for Taiwan to focus on asymmetric warfare, or warfare involving forces of unequal capabilities, under the military strategy of "multi-domain battle concept," the report said.

The idea is to apply the varied capabilities of Taiwan's armed forces in ways forcing an enemy to contemplate a multitude of battle scenarios.