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June 26, 2017

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China develops military to prepare for potential cross-strait conflict: US

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China continues to modernize and improve its military capabilities to prepare for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait, an annual United States Department of Defense (DOD) report to Congress said Thursday.

The newly released "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China for 2014" report said China's military expenditure continue to grow in order to reach its goal of being a regional and world power.

Despite warming cross-strait ties, China has been preparing itself for possible military conflict with Taiwan to prevent the latter from making moves toward de jure independence, the report said.

Once the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is ready to take military action against Taiwan, the report said that Beijing may first "pursue a measured approach characterized by signaling its readiness to use force, followed by a deliberate buildup of force to optimize the speed of engagement over strategic deception."

Another option is that China could abandon large-scale preparations in favor of a surprise attack to force rapid military or political resolution before other countries, such as the U.S., could intervene, it noted.

In addition to direct military engagement, other potential solutions for Taiwan include air blockades, missile attacks and mining to force capitulation, the DOD report said.

Taiwan's previous strategies for deterring Chinese aggression, which included the PLA's inability to project sufficient power across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait, the Taiwan military's technological superiority and the geographic advantages of island defense, have eroded with the increasing modernization of the Chinese military.

But Taiwan has been taking steps to address its declining defensive advantages, including building its war reserve stocks and its defense industrial base, improving joint operations and crisis response capabilities, and increasing its officer and non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps.

Recognizing the continued growth in China's military spending, Taiwan is also working to integrate innovative and asymmetric measures into its defense planning in order to counterbalance China's growing capabilities, it added.

Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States has been helping maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait by providing defense articles and services to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, the DOD said.

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