China: September 22, 2004


Taiwan plans to spend $60 billion on defense over the next five years. Currently, China is spending about that much each year.  But China's GNP is only about twice that of Taiwan. China has 2.2 million people in its armed forces, versus 350,000 for Taiwan. China's population is 1.2 billion, versus 23 million for Taiwan. Taiwan's troops are better trained and equipped than the Chinese, and that has prevented China from taking the island for over half a century. But China is spending a lot of money to close the quality gap. An amphibious operation, which is required to take the island of Taiwan, is one of the most difficult of military operations. Currently, and for the next few years, China does not have the shipping and trained troops for an attack. China could try some unconventional tactics to carry out an invasion of Taiwan, but these are more likely to fail in a spectacular fashion. The Chinese government cannot afford the embarrassment of  such a failure. So the arms race continues, with China hoping to get far enough ahead of Taiwan in military capability in the next decade to enable a successful invasion. Actually, just the threat of a successful invasion might encourage Taiwan to negotiate a new relationship with China, or to step up its military spending once more. . 


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