Ridzwan Rahmat, principal defence analyst at Janes, said the chance of an armed conflict between Beijing and Taiwan was significantly higher now than it was five years ago.
“This is because the PLA will soon be equipped with the tools needed to mount an invasion force across the Taiwan Strait,” Rahmat said. “Given this ability, we can expect Beijing to exhibit a lot more assertiveness when it comes to dealing with Taiwan.”
China on Friday launched a new aircraft carrier, the Fujian, which will take the fleet to three and is the nation’s first domestically developed carrier.
David Silbey, a military historian at Cornell University in Washington, said Beijing was also expected to use a range of non-military options to achieve its reunification goal.
“They could attempt to integrate Taiwan economically into the mainland in such a way that reunification becomes inevitable,” Silbey said. “The Chinese have been doing this for many years already with a fair amount of success, but it’s something of a long process.”
Mainland China and Taiwan split in 1949 at the end of a civil war when the Kuomintang was defeated by Communist Party forces and fled to Taipei. Beijing sees the island as part of China and has never ruled out the use of force to take control of it.
Taiwan has become a potential flashpoint between the US and China, which was angered when President Joe Biden in May suggested the United States would use force to defend the island if it was attacked by Beijing.
The White House and the Pentagon later walked back Biden’s remarks, saying the comments – the latest in a string of mixed signals over the island from the US president since he took office in January last year – did not reflect a policy shift.
Lukas Fiala, coordinator of the China Foresight project at LSE IDEAS, the London School of Economics’ foreign policy think tank, said Biden’s remarks “should be interpreted in the context of the US’ broader commitment towards the region”.
“Biden’s new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, the Quad and Aukus all speak to competition with China across the Pacific and Indian oceans,” Fiala said.