Taiwan “will not bow down to pressure from Beijing” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu says, but “will work with friendly nations to uphold regional peace and stability and ensure our rightful place in the international community.”
His exclamation came after news that the Dominican Republic had broken ties with Taipei and established formal relations with Beijing, expressing “deep regret” that the Dominican Republic had “set aside 77 years of partnership” in order “to accept deceptive promises of investment and aid from China.”
Taiwan’s presidential office also issued a statement criticizing the Chinese government for “exacerbating tension in the Taiwan Strait” just as international society was working to promote reconciliation and dialogue, “including in the Korean Peninsula.”
Which prompted questioning by a panel of legislators on Monday, with Tsai Shih-Ying of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, asking the National Defence Minister Yen Teh-fa for details surrounding Taiwan’s military program to procure a new modern main battle tank.
Yen told Tsai that Taiwan’s military would soon make a bid to purchase M1A2 tanks, an American third-generation main battle tank — the most modern armored tank in the world, from the Pentagon in the second half of 2018.
Yen also stated that the American tanks could help transfer technology to the island’s defense industry, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported, as quoted by South China Morning Post.
“The Taiwan Strait is very likely to replace the Korean peninsula as the hottest flashpoint in the region,” he warned.
“In response to the changing situation, Taiwan’s military has also increased its combat readiness.”
“In one or two months, China will hold more long-range military training and increase combined forces operations when engaged in such activities in waters near Taiwan,” Yen said when responding to another lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen about Beijing’s increased military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea.
Relations between Beijing and Taipei have collapsed since President Tsai Ing-wen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, was elected to office last year. As a result, Beijing has flexed its military muscles by sending warships through the Taiwan Strait and bombers to circumnavigate the island.
To make matters worse, President Trump signed the “Taiwanese Travel Act,” which promotes official visits to Taiwan by government officials at all levels with an emphasis on “national security officials.”
The new law infuriated Chinese President Xi Jinping, who lashed out at the Trump administration during a speech last month and warned, “any actions and tricks to split China are doomed to failure and will meet with the people’s condemnation and the punishment of history.”
Since the start of this year, the Liaoning, the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) only operational aircraft carrier, conducted numerous military exercises around Taiwan on January 04, March 20 and April 19.
In President Tsai’s first national defense review report in December, the Taiwanese government expanded its war preparations around coastal areas for fears of a Chinese invasion.
As quoted by South China Morning Post, Taiwan’s United Daily News reported that the islands defense ministry could be ordering “two battalions, or 108, M1A2 tanks, but the army hoped Taipei could buy more.”
In 2016, the M1A2 Abrams was given an estimated quote of about $8.92 million per tank, adjusted for inflation from the FY’99. Simple math shows, Taiwan could be spending around $1 billion on American main battle tanks in the second half of this year.
South China Morning Post explains how Taipei has been searching for “surplus U.S. Army M1 tanks to replace its M60s,” but has been hesitant about the upgrades because of the island’s mountainous interior and coastal wetlands. Further, there are concerns that the island’s infrastructure, such as bridges and roadways could have difficulty supporting the 65-ton tank.
While Taiwan could be the flashpoint for the next global war, it seems as the Armed Forces of Taiwan are now preparing for a Chinese invasion by ordering a billion dollars worth of American main battle tanks. War could be coming to Taiwan; North Korea was just one giant distraction.
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If a Chinese invasion of Taiwan did occur, here is an excellent video of the American M1 Abrams versus the Chinese Type 99 tank: