The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) either has or is close to achieving an initial capability to invade Taiwan, one that remains under development but that China’s leaders may employ at high risk–while deterring, delaying, or defeating US military intervention, US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) said in its 2021 Annual report to Congress on Wednesday.
Decades of concerted modernization by the PLA have shifted the military balance in the Taiwan Strait and dangerously weakened cross-Strait deterrence, the report read.
The PLA’s development of this capability has involved years of campaign planning and advancements in anti-access and area-denial capabilities. China has also demonstrated significant improvements in its shipbuilding capacity to bolster amphibious and civilian sealift, both of which the PLA has used in amphibious landing exercises, it added.
The PLA will continue to develop all of these capabilities to enhance Chinese leaders’ confidence that it can successfully execute an invasion campaign, the USCC said.
Cross-Strait deterrence still holds today because Chinese leaders remain deeply concerned about the uncertain success of an attempted invasion as well as its risks and consequences. Failed attempts by the PLA to invade Taiwan or to counter US intervention risk undermining the CCP’s legitimacy, the report said.
The PLA still suffers from significant weaknesses in joint operations and personnel quality, contributing to uncertainty among China’s top leaders.
A decision to invade Taiwan also risks destabilizing regional trade flows and supply chains, damaging the most productive segments of the Chinese economy and threatening other economic and political objectives associated with China’s national rejuvenation, it added.
Lastly, Chinese leaders must consider the difficulty of controlling Taiwan’s population after an invasion and responding to the international fallout from a conflict. The US measures that deepen Chinese leaders’ anxieties about these risks are likely to enhance deterrence, according to the report.