Not for the first time, Taiwan is under significant, rising threat from neighbouring China and has observed exercises from the Chinese military close by.
In the David and Goliath situation, China is the giant casting a shadow over Taiwan – Taiwan has 974 miles of coastline to defend, compared to China's 9010 miles.
Should Taiwan fear China's annual exercises in the sea surrounding it?
- Taiwan begins live-fire military drills in show of readiness to China
- Are we witnessing China's blockade strategy to regain Taiwan?
- Chinese military drills mark 'significant escalation', US says
Professor Alessio Patalano, a War and Strategy Expert at King's College London, told Forces News: "What we're seeing now, it's a particularly large scale and a sort of expanded version of these drills, that, in their execution, are being mobilised to leave a specific political microsignalling to the Taiwanese, to the Japanese, the the United States and anybody else who's watching."
Taiwan's principal defence ally is the US, which in 2019 approved the transfer of new F-16C/D Block 70 combat aircraft to the country.
Notifications have been issued in the US regarding the possible sale of MQ-9B UAVs, HIMARS launchers and a variety of long-range precision-strike missiles to Taiwan.
The data used here is from the IISS military balance 2022 document. We will show how China compares (in bold).
Defence Spending (2021): 3.3% of total Asia expenditure China 42.5%
Active Personnel: 169,000 (Army 94,000, Navy 40,000, Air Force 35,000) China: 2,035,000 (Ground Forces 965,000 Navy 260,000 Air Force 395,000)
Reserve Personnel: 1,657,000 (Army 1,500,000, Navy 67,000, Air Force 90,000) China: 510,000
Gendarmerie & Paramilitary 11,800 (China 500,000)
Watch: China performs missile firing drills into waters around Taiwan.
Main Battle Tanks: 650 China: 5,400
Light Tanks: Around 100 China: 750
Infantry Fighting Vehicles: 257 China: 7,200
Armoured Personnel Carriers: 1,318 China: 4,350
Artillery: 2,093 (1,060+ Towed) + 54 Coastal Defence China: 9,834+
Attack Helicopters: 96 China: 300+
Multi-Role Helicopters: 38 China: 208
Transport Helicopters: 38 China: 398
Surface to air missiles: 76+ China: 614+
Hunter-Killer Submarines: 4 China: 46
Destroyers: 4 China: 36
Frigates: 22 China: 45
Patrol and Coastal Combatants: 44 China: Around 196
Mine Warfare: 7 China: 57
Landing Ships: 6 China: 49
Landing Craft: 44 China: 60
Logistics and Support: 9 China: 157
Anti-Submarine Helicopters: 20 China: 32
Multi-Role Helicopters: 10 China: 18
Watch: China shows further signs of ambition to be major maritime power.
Main Battle Tanks: 100 China: N/A
Amphibious Assault Vehicles: 202 China: Around 240
Anti-Tank/Infrastructure and Towed Artillery Capability RCL 106mm China: MANPATS HJ-73; HJ-8 RCL 120mm Type-98
Fighter/Ground Attack aircraft: 474 combat capable China: 1,489+
Bombers: N/A China: 45
Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft (ASM): 12 China: N/A
Electronic Warfare aircraft (EW): 1 China: 21
Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR): 7 China: 48
Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW & C): 6 China: 19
Transport: 33 China: 247+
Transport Helicopters: 17 China: 31+
Air Defence and Missile Command
Surface-to-Surface missile launchers: Around 12 China: N/A
Surface-to-Air missile launchers: 202+ China: 832+
Gendarmerie & Paramilitary
Personnel 11,800 (Around 175,000 in China's Strategic Support Force)
Patrol and Coastal Combatants: 168 China: N/A