China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has reportedly deployed hypersonic missiles across from Taiwan, Hong Kong media reported on Sunday, sparking concern about war preparations.
The South China Morning Post, citing anonymous military observers and sources, said missile bases along Southeast China were "upgraded" with Dongfeng-17 (DF-17) hypersonic missiles.
"The DF-17 hypersonic missile will gradually replace the old DF-11s and DF-15s that were deployed in the southeast region for decades," the source said. "The new missile has a longer range and can hit targets more accurately."
Hypersonic missiles give China significant leverage over Taiwan's anti-ballistic missile shield due to the glide vehicle's unpredictable ballistic trajectory - suggesting Taipei is powerless against a DF-17 attack.
DF-17's Unpredictable Path
SCMP said the new hypersonic missiles are deployed at bases located in the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, which are in striking range of Taiwan. Beijing's increased militarization of its southeast coast is very suggestive of preparations for an invasion.
Scenario: China Invasion Of Taiwan
This time last year, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu sounded the alarm about a potential invasion. He said if, for whatever reason, China's economy crashed, the communist government would invade Taiwan to divert attention from domestic economic woes.
China's DF-17 Hypersonic Missile
Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of Kanwa Defense Review, said the deployments are an extension of the Marine Corps and Rocket Force capabilities in Fujian and Guangdong provinces:
"Every rocket force brigade in Fujian and Guangdong is now fully equipped." Chang asserts that this is evidence of the communist regime's invasion plans: "The size of some of the missile bases in the Eastern and Southern theatre commands have even doubled in recent years, showing the PLA is stepping up preparations for a war targeting Taiwan."
Although Taiwan's government claims itself as an independent country called the "Republic of China," Beijing considers it a Chinese province that must rejoin the mainland. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated since Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party was elected president in 2016. She has frequently rejected the one-China principle.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have slid even more with the Trump administration's supply of drones, fighter jets, and missiles to the island.
Beijing has frequently warned against the US' defense sales to Taiwan, calling them a violation of China's sovereignty.
Earlier this summer, the PLA staged a war exercise across the Taiwan Strait as if it appeared it was planning an amphibious assault on the island.
In September, Hu Xijn, the editor of Global Times, warned that if US troops were to station in Taiwan, "the PLA will definitely start a just war to safeguard China's territorial integrity."
Recent war simulations over Taiwan between the US and China have shown repeated losses for the Americans. Is China about to make a move on Taiwan?