China's PLA 'Ready' for Taiwan Resistance After Latest U.S. Arms Sales

The People's Liberation Army "will be ready" to launch an attack on Taiwan if the self-ruled democracy resists Beijing's forced reunification, a Chinese government mouthpiece said Tuesday.

Communist Party newspaper Global Times published the hawkish article in response to the Trump administration's latest proposed arms deal with Taipei, which, according to Department of Defense figures, has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military sales in 2020.

The PLA "will be ready if the island resists reunification by force," the state-owned tabloid wrote, referencing Beijing's long-stated ambition to bring Taiwan, which it sees as a rogue province, and its 23.5 million inhabitants under its control.

The Chinese leadership has never ruled out a "non-peaceful" takeover of Taiwan. Its Anti-Secession Law of 2005, passed under President Hu Jintao, describes reunification as a "sacred duty" and allows for military contingencies should a Taiwanese government declare independence.

Taiwan confirmed the latest round of arms sales after DOD's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on Monday the proposed provision of a Field Information Communications System to the tune of $280 million. It is the 11th round of arms sales to Taiwan under President Donald Trump, and the sixth deal this year.

A Chinese military analyst said the communications system would be encrypted and increase Taiwan's anti-jamming capability. It would also make the island's military highly reliant on the United States, the expert told Global Times.

On Tuesday, multiple Chinese officials condemned the U.S.-Taiwan deal in an almost identical tone and manner.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Trump administration had "severely undermined" U.S.-China relations as well as peace and stability in the region.

China's defense ministry took a somewhat sterner line and called on Washington to stop the provision of arms to Taiwan. Spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said the PLA was capable of "thwarting any attempt to split China."

Beijing often claims that Washington forces arms sales on Taiwan, providing the island with old and often overpriced weaponry. Taipei, however, says the U.S.-Taiwan relations have never been better, and that the government is confident of continued support under President-elect Joe Biden.

Chinese military pressure in the Taiwan Strait and aggressive rhetoric from both official and unofficial channels have been the norm for what is now several months. Frequent PLA exercises and patrols are expected to continue into 2021 as Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen sees out her second term.

In November, Chinese warplanes set a new record for the most sorties flown into Taiwan's airspace in a month, forcing Taipei to scramble interceptor jets on 26 days, according to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense.

China's tightly controlled state media has called the flights "routine missions," especially as Taiwan strengthens its ties with the United States. Global Times has also called for Chinese jets to be flown straight over the island in order to assert territorial dominance.

On Friday, the DSCA published its latest figures showing annual foreign military sales totalling $50.78 billion in the 2020 fiscal year.

Taiwan was the largest recipient, purchasing $11.8 billion worth of military goods this year—more than double the U.S.'s second-highest recipient, Poland.

Chinese army tests heavy artillery in Xinjiang
File photo: China’s 79th Group Army—part of its Northern Theater Command—conducted heavy artillery drills in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, China, according to Chinese military website 81.cn on December 9. 81.cn