Chinaˇ¦s docks can aid
TAIWANˇ¦S ANSWER: Work has begun on a new
catamaran-style missile corvette to carry long-range antiship cruise missiles
with improved range and endurance
By William Lowther / Staff reporter in WASHINGTON
The Chinese navy has commissioned three new amphibious transport docks over the
past few years that could improve Beijingˇ¦s ability to seize and hold Taiwanˇ¦s
According to a report to be unveiled by the US House Armed Services Committee
yesterday, each of the docks can carry a mix of air-cushion landing craft,
amphibious armored vehicles, helicopters and marines.
Nevertheless, the report says that ˇ§at this timeˇ¨ China does not appear to be
pursuing the amphibious capabilities necessary to conduct a large-scale invasion
The docks, described as ˇ§large amphibious ships,ˇ¨ are part of a general
expansion by the Peopleˇ¦s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) detailed in the China
Economic and Security Review Commissionˇ¦s recently completed annual report to
the US Congress.
A full committee hearing led by representatives Randy Forbes and Colleen
Hanabusa is to consider the report, its findings, conclusions and its
A draft copy of the report has been the subject of various stories carried by
the Taipei Times over the past week.
The report says that the PLA Navy has about 75 major surface combatants, 85
missile patrol boats and 60 conventional and nuclear submarines.
ˇ§These units are available for a range of missions ˇX such as enforcing a
blockade of Taiwan,ˇ¨ the report says.
ˇ§As Chinaˇ¦s naval modernization continues, an increasing percentage of these
ships and submarines will feature advanced weaponry,ˇ¨ it says.
ˇ§In contrast, the Taiwan Navy has 26 major surface combatants, 45 missile patrol
boats and two operational submarines,ˇ¨ it adds.
The report says that Taiwan began work on a prototype of a new class of
catamaran-style missile corvette in November last year and plans to build up to
11 of them by next year.
ˇ§The new ship will carry long-range antiship cruise missiles and feature better
sea-keeping ability, range and endurance compared with Taiwanˇ¦s current patrol
fleet,ˇ¨ the report says.
ˇ§In a potential conflict with China, the corvette will enhance the lethality and
survivability of Taiwanˇ¦s anti-surface force,ˇ¨ it says.
In addition, the report says, Taiwan has deployed its long-delayed Ray Ting (RT)-2000
multiple-launch rocket system.
ˇ§In a potential Chinese invasion, the RT-2000 will provide Taiwan with
quick-fire capability against Chinese amphibious ships as they cross the Taiwan
Strait,ˇ¨ the report says.
ˇ§With a range of up to 25 miles [40.2km] and a wheeled chassis allowing for easy
maneuverability, the RT-2000 is a significant improvement over its predecessor,
the Kung Feng V1,ˇ¨ the report adds.
The Armed Services Committee will hear that Taiwanˇ¦s defense spending likely
ˇ§will remain stagnantˇ¨ through at least the end of President Ma Ying-jeouˇ¦s
(°¨^¤E) term in office in 2016.
ˇ§President Ma has little incentive to increase the defense budget, since
improved cross-strait relations have reduced public perceptions of the China
threat in attempts to recover from the global financial crisis,ˇ¨ the report
ˇ§US officials and outside observers suggest that if this trend continues, then
the Taiwan military may struggle to maintain a credible deterrent capability,ˇ¨