According to a report published by the Taiwanese United Daily News, the ROC government has disclosed plans to construct a high-altitude ballistic missile defense network. The new system would help counter a variety of PLA missile systems including the relatively new Dongfeng-100. Unfortunately, few details are available at this time.
The Taiwanese announcement comes soon after US General Robert Abrams spoke of plans to enhance missile defenses in the Pacific’s fist island chain. The statement, which initially caused a significant stir, was later clarified by a US Forces Korea spokesperson who stated that the general’s plan “does not include the deployment of any new units or systems and that it was referring to preparedness in areas such as operation security”. Nevertheless, the core idea remains.
Tensions surrounding Taiwan have recently been rising with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) and the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) aircraft constantly flying into Taiwan’s ADIZ. Such events occurred as recently as March 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th according to the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense. Moreover, Chinese military drills and rhetoric aimed at Taiwan are not easing the already tense situation and some US leaders are becoming increasingly worried over the prospect of war over the island, with US Admiral Davidson stating that China could invade Taiwan within the next six years.
While an invasion of Taiwan may not seem to be worth the risk, Chinese leaders have good reason to consider such an option. While the international political, economic and perhaps even military repercussions for such an invasion would be enormous, Chinese rhetoric about owning Taiwan is a key element of national pride which has been burned into the minds of Chinese citizens over years of intense propaganda, further reinforced by growing nationalism which even the CCP cannot fully control. Moreover, after years of saber-rattling, the humiliation of failing to act in a case such as Taiwanese secession could be enormous. As such, with the new announcement regarding missile defense, the tensions only continue to rise.