Beijing/Taipei: ‘Considering the increased presence of US warships in the South China Sea and the growing support to Taiwan from the US and the international community, China appears to have ramped up preparations for an invasion on Taiwan. Media reports suggest China has stepped up military deployments on bases that could be used for launching an attack on Taiwan, along with advanced missiles and defence systems. Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed the DF-17 hypersonic missiles and advanced air defence system S-400. A Canadian think tank has released satellite images that reveal the deployments. At the same time, an ex-Chinese military official has warned that the current preparations by the country and repeated military drills show that China is only one step away from waging war against Taiwan.
China has been putting up an aggressive show of military force in waters close to Taiwanese territory in the last few days. Chinese PLA is consistently carrying out military exercises and is releasing photos and videos of the same. The state media has claimed the drills simulate attacks on Taiwan. Simultaneously, former officials, analysts and media are repeatedly threatening to launch an attack on Taiwan. In the last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping had visited military bases and ordered them to prepare for war. On the sidelines of the developments, China indicating war-preparedness by mobilizing advanced weaponry on military bases close to Taiwanese boundaries assumes much significance.
The DF-17 hypersonic missiles have been deployed at the Fujian and Guangdong bases, located near Taiwanese borders. The DF-17 is a medium-range hypersonic missile and said to have a range of 2,500 km. Further, the rockets are believed capable of striking bases that lie on Taiwan’s eastern coastline. Earlier, China had deployed the DF-11 and DF-15 missiles on the bases. Although as tensions with Taiwan reach a boiling point, China is trying to pressurize Taiwan by sending advanced missiles in the region. The Hong Kong-based news outlet South China Morning Post has reported the story. Besides, Canadian think tank ‘Kanwa Defence Review’ has published information on the Chinese deployments as also photographs of a few Chinese bases.
Kanwa Defence Review head Andrei Chang has affirmed that China has mobilized its Russian-made S-400 advanced air defence missile system at bases near Taiwan. Also, China says the defence systems can shoot down any fighter jets, missiles and drones taking off from any base in Taiwan. The US has supplied Taiwan with fighter jets, warplanes and missiles extensively in the last two years. With the S-400, China seems to have sent the US the message that its growing arms support would not be of much use to Taiwan. Apart from the DF-17 and S-400, China has also deployed the J-20 stealth fighters, which are part of PLA’s 20 air force brigades, as even the ten units of the Marine Corps at military bases close to Taiwanese territory.
A former senior military official has asserted he had never before seen such Chinese build-up and continued military drills. Major General Wang Zaixi has warned that ‘The current activities and increasing war-preparedness make evident that unification with Taiwan through peaceful means is unlikely. The aggressive military drills of Chinese PLA show the country is only one step away from war’. Two US destroyers have patrolled twice near Taiwanese waters in the last ten days. Currently, US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is said to be present in the South China Sea. Given the recent events, China ramping up activities is sharply escalating tensions in the region.