Taiwan can strike enemy troops at their home bases: defense official

03/16/2017 02:20 PM
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(CNA file photo)
(CNA file photo)

Taipei, March 16 (CNA) Taiwan's military has the capability to strike Chinese troops at their home bases, should a war in the Taiwan Strait break out, a Defense Ministry official said Thursday while presenting a defense review to the Legislature.

Asked by a lawmaker whether the military has the ability to project fire into enemy forces' territory should they initiate an attack on Taiwan, Lt. Gen. Chiang Chen-chung (姜振中) -- responsible for operations planning -- answered in the affirmative during a hearing in the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

During the hearing, Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) noted that the Chinese army base closet to Taiwan under China's Eastern Theater Command is only 250 kilometers away from the coastline of Taiwan, with the most distant 1,380 km away from Taiwan.

The Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army is based in Nanjing and would supposedly be in charge of military operations against Taiwan should Beijing decided to launch an attack.

He asked Chiang if the military is confident that it will be able to strike enemy forces at their home bases -- as far as more than 1,300 km away from Taiwan.

In response, Chiang said the military has the ability to do so, noting that related training and planning are underway in an effort to beef up the military's combat readiness.

Thursday's hearing was held so that the Ministry of National Defense could present its latest Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) -- the first such report since the DPP government was sworn in last May -- to the Legislature.

In response to questions by Legislator Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣) of the opposition Kuomintang about the biggest challenges in Taiwan's defense, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said one is a limited defense budget and the other is establishing an all-volunteer force amid the country's low birth rate.

The defense budget for the year accounts for about 2.05 percent of Taiwan's overall gross domestic product (GDP) and Feng expressed hope that this will be increased to nearly 3 percent of GDP next year.

Asked about the ministry's "multi-deterrence" strategy mentioned in the QDR, Feng said that this demonstrates the military's efforts to use asymmetrical methods to force the enemy into "multi-dilemmas."

To that end, the military is working to develop smart sea mines and unmanned aerial vehicles that can not only be used for reconnaissance but also as weapons, Feng said.

Under the National Defense Act, the Defense Ministry is required to submit a QDR outlining military policy, combat readiness and armament status to the Legislature within 10 months of a presidential inauguration.

In its QDR, the ministry proposes a military strategy of "resolute defense" and "multi-deterrence" and a policy for the development of the defense industry that focuses on aerospace, shipbuilding and information security, as well as measures to strengthen electronic warfare capabilities.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/J

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