First, the number of PLA cruise missiles is growing -
perhaps by 100 in
the past year. (The Defense Department's estimate of existing missiles is between 200
and 500.) Second, China's
ability to frustrate U.S.
intervention to defend Taiwan
increases apace. Third, the ballistic missiles themselves are becoming more
accurate and have more effective munitions. Even if the number of missiles has
remained constant, the damage they can do to Taiwan's command and control,
airfields, ports and other infrastructure is increasing. The scale of the
potential damage is what is important to Taiwan's security, not the precise
number of missiles.
What are the
implications of these developments? First, Taiwan needs to continue to
strengthen its deterrence. Second, the United States should continue to sell arms to Taiwan to help
it build that deterrence and reduce the island's sense of vulnerability. Third, China examine the counterproductive effect of its military builup.