Taipei Times: Ian Easton On Taiwan: Should Taiwanese missiles target Beijing?

For many years, China’s propaganda outlets have broadcast videos of military units attacking Taiwan. Even in peacetime, viewers across China (and Taiwan) are routinely exposed to images of unprovoked violence. In one such media clip, Chinese tanks and soldiers practiced storming a large mock-up of the Presidential Office in Taipei.

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) media scare tactics have been accompanied by a massive military buildup. They are given further credibility by Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平), who has made strident anti-Taiwan remarks and severed diplomatic channels with the island. Taken as a whole, China’s actions have served to destabilize the Taiwan Strait. This geographic area is fast becoming the most dangerous potential flashpoint on the planet. Expect it to get worse.

The governments of the United States and the Republic of China (Taiwan) are not well positioned to meet the threat. While these democratic partners have made significant strides in the past two years, they are not yet keeping pace with the fast-changing facts on the ground. Beijing is sprinting ahead. Washington and Taipei are moving from a crawl to a walk.

Conventional theater missiles could change the game.

For its part, Taiwan has quietly built a modest arsenal of ground-launched HF-2E cruise missiles capable of striking deep into China. It seems probable that dozens, if not hundreds, of these mobile missiles have been fielded. Many more could be on the way, including stealthy longer-range variants capable of reaching Beijing.

Taiwan’s military appears to have the engineering technology needed to add ballistic missiles and guided cluster rockets to its national quiver. In fact, it might have some hidden away already, waiting to give the enemy a nasty surprise if they invade.

Meanwhile, the PLA will continue its rapid weaponization of outer space and cyber space. It will threaten to blind the sensor systems the United States and Taiwan rely on for targeting. After all, missiles can’t hit what they can’t see. For this reason, the PLA is investing heavily in electronic warfare and using commercial front companies to insert its malicious hardware into the world’s computer systems.

The most important point to clarify is what the Pentagon’s and Taiwan’s new missiles will (and will not) target. We know from internal PLA training manuals that, in the event of war, they plan to target Taiwanese civilians with their missiles and bombs. It should be made clear that the United States and Taiwan will never target the people of China in reprisal. History has shown that the bombing of civilian populations is as ineffective as it is immoral. The Chinese people don’t get a vote. It is the unelected CCP high command, led by Chairman Xi, who is responsible for China’s policies and actions.

It seems reasonable to ask: what would legitimate wartime targets in China be?

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