U.S. intelligence noted that heightened Chinese military activity in recent months will obscure their ability to pick up on early warning signs of an invasion of Taiwan, according to leaked intelligence materials seen by The Washington Post.
One assessment says that escalated Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) activity around Taiwan, such as making blockade movements and conducting war games characterized as practice for an assault on the self-governing island, is “eroding” the U.S.’ ability ascertain what constitutes out of the ordinary activity, the Post reported, citing the documents. If China’s mock invasion drills turned out to be preparations prefacing “an attack on Taiwan,” the U.S. might not be able to intervene early enough to protect Taiwan.
“You need to have a fairly high level of confidence that you’re facing use of force and also time to make critical political decisions if you’re the United States,” Joel Wuthnow, a senior research fellow at National Defense University, told the Post. “If you have ambiguities or doubts as well as a compressed timeline, it could potentially complicate your ability to mobilize your own forces, which is a huge challenge.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry told the outlet it “respects outside opinions about its military preparedness” and that its response to China’s most recent spate of exercises demonstrates its soldiers are “absolutely capable, determined and confident.”
The documents, which appear as U.S. intelligence briefing materials for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from February through March, surfaced in early April. Jack Teixeira, the 21 year old National Guardsman thought to be behind the leaks, was arrested Thursday and faces espionage charges.
China has carried out “large-scale military exercises simulating amphibious assaults, blockades, air raids and joint fire power strikes” twice in the previous eight months, on top of dispatching a record number of provocative aircraft sorties in and around Taiwan’s airspace, the documents note, according to the Post.
Other assessments indicate Taiwan’s inability to prevent China from establishing air dominance, according to the Post. For example, Taiwan’s doctrine of targeting incoming missiles with two air defense missiles means Taiwan’s air defense capabilities “would be strained under high-volume PLA fires,” the materials state.
Taiwan is working with friendly nations on how to respond to a possible economic blockade by China, a scenario that appears more likely than a direct military attack, according to the Foreign ministry.https://t.co/K03HL7ogpd pic.twitter.com/nGwHWMsVhv
— Indo-Pacific News – Geo-Politics & Military News (@IndoPac_Info) April 15, 2023
Meanwhile, Taiwanese defense officials are concerned about the capacity of the military’s air defense capabilities to “accurately detect missile launches” from China, the Post reported, citing the documents.
In addition, just over half of Taiwan’s combat aircraft are considered at mission ready status, operational in a fight, the documents show.
U.S. intelligence assesses China will move on Taiwan within the coming decade.
Officials, including Chairman of the Joint Chief Gen. Mark Milley, note that Beijing is hesitant to move militarily after witnessing Russia’s struggles in Ukraine and noting Taiwan’s robust defenses against an amphibious invasion, according to the Post. However, Russia’s failure to establish air dominance is seen as a contributor to its slow progress in Ukraine.
The Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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