A New Imbalance in the Equation of Military Balance Across the Taiwan Strait

  • York W. Chen


Such an assertion is neither novel nor one-sided. The rapid speed of China’s acquisition of many advanced weapons systems and its improvements in training and doctrine have rendered Taiwan’s relative qualitative advantage in weapons and personnel to be no longer sustainable. In the past, this was regarded as Taiwan’s critical advantage for counterbalancing China’s quantitative superiority. Many analysts, both in Taiwan and the United States, believe it is only a matter of time before China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) outpaces their Taiwan’s counterparts in quality as well. Besides, the US Department of Defense (DoD) repeatedly expressed its concerns over this emerging imbalance; many American scholars have reached the similar conclusion. For example, Dr. David Shambaugh claimed in 2002 that the PLA would complete its preparations to present a credible threat to Taiwan by 2007.1 In Taiwan, several key national security policymakers also gradually realized this embarrassing fact. Former Chairperson Tsai Ing-Wen of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council even argued that Taiwan might lose its military superiority in 2005.2 According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), the PLA’s air and naval capabilities might “qualitatively surpass that of ours by 2010.”3


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© Peter C. Y. Chow 2008

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  • York W. Chen

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