Taiwan depends on imports for two critical components – energy and food. It imports almost all the coal and oil it consumes. A study says that about one-third of Taiwan’s food is domestically grown while 68 percent of it is imported. Hence, Taiwan’s security and its survival are linked to the sea through which these imports reach the island.
However, due to its geographical proximity to China, Taiwan remains vulnerable to China’s air and naval forces. One of the main factors shaping the modernization of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been creating the capability to take over Taiwan if and when the political leadership in Beijing deems it necessary.
In order to fulfill this herculean task, the PLA must be in a position to undertake a number of different types of campaigns with regard to Taiwan. It must be able to execute joint operations (in conjunction with other services) such as joint blockading campaigns and joint amphibious landing campaigns.
Fulfilling such an array of responsibilities will also require a substantial navy. There have been continuous budget increases for the Chinese navy in the last 25 years. It has transitioned from a navy focused on coastal defense operations to a force capable of operating—and potentially dominating—the “near seas”. It is also a force capable of operating in the “far seas,” the waters of the central Pacific and even the Indian Ocean.
Keeping in view China’s overwhelming military dominance vis-a-vis Taiwan, American intervention would be essential for the successful defense of Taiwan against China. The size and capability of the PLA can be counterbalanced only with American intervention. Taiwan will obtain American (and other international) support only if it demonstrates a capacity to defend itself. Hence, it is important that the US supports the modernization of Taiwan’s Navy, encourages sale of advanced aircraft and air defenses to Taiwan and exposes Taiwan’s military to a broader array of contacts.
To read the full article, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/03/taiwans-maritime-security-a-critical-american-interest