China has a massive $230 billion defence budget, completely outspending Taiwan on land, air, and sea. This fuels concerns that, should Beijing decide to attack, the self-governing island would be lost.
Boots on the ground
According to data from 2019, China has the largest military in the world, with two million soldiers who are actively serving. In contrast, Taiwan has 1.7 lakh (0.17 million) active soldiers.
Taiwan has 1.5 million reserves, which gives them the advantage over China, which has well than five lakh (.5 million) personnel in reserve. China is ranked sixth in terms of reserve troops, while Taiwan is ranked first. With 6.24 lakh soldiers compared to Taiwan’s 11,500, China outnumbers it when it comes to paramilitary services. While Taiwan only has 1,110 tanks, China has 5,250 tanks to back up its forces. In comparison to Taiwan’s 3,472 armored vehicles, China boasts of having 35,000.
Taiwan is greatly disadvantaged since China outperforms Taiwan in the field of towed and mobile rocket projectors. The comparison being made is also incredibly unfair. Taiwan’s air force consists of 741 birds, compared to China’s 3,285 aircraft.
China has 1,200 fighter jets, including a fleet of stealth fighter jets and its most modern warplane, the J-20. Taiwan, on the other side, only has 288 fighter aircraft.
Taipei only possesses 19 transport aircraft and no bombers, compared to China’s 450 specialized bomber aircraft and 286 transport aircraft.
With 777 ships in its fleet, China boasts the largest navy in the world. Taiwan comes in last with 117. Taipei lacks an equivalent to Beijing’s two aircraft carriers, giving Beijing a significant naval advantage. The Chinese have access to 41 destroyers and 49 frigates, compared to Taiwan’s four and 22, respectively. Beijing has nine nuclear assault submarines and six ballistic missile submarines, making it the undisputed leader in undersea warfare. Taiwan only possesses two diesel attack submarines, compared to China’s 56, and none of these.
The US Defence Department’s 2021 report on the Chinese military stated that China’s warhead stockpile was “currently estimated to be in the low-200s,” while the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute put the number at 350. China has not disclosed the exact number of warheads it possesses. China “likely plans to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030,” the report stated. One of the biggest dangers to Western military supremacy is China’s nuclear buildup.
Since the Asian superpower conducted two tests of hypersonic missiles last summer—a charge Beijing has denied—Western experts believe that China too boasts of such weapons. The precise systems China may be building are unknown, but the danger is still present.
According to Dr. Leoni, while hypersonic missiles might not be a game-changer on their own, they will make some targets extremely vulnerable to attack. This was stated in a BBC report. He claimed that it was significantly harder to protect aircraft carriers in particular against hypersonic missiles.
Beijing won’t be able to attack the island as easily, even though they outgun and outman Taiwan, as they would have to contend with the armies of the United States and Japan.
In regards to its intentions should Taiwan be invaded, the United States has long maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity.” However, President Joe Biden stated that the US has a “promise” to defend Taiwan in October 2021.
Over the past few years, Japanese support for Taiwan has also intensified, departing from earlier policies. Yasuhide Nakayama, who was Japan’s deputy defence minister at the time, said at a conference in June 2021 that “we have to protect Taiwan, as a democratic country.”
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