Taiwan has had industrial financial viability problems with the construction of new minehunting vessels. These problems are indicative of the difficulties Taipei faces in its indigenous military modernisation efforts aimed at ameliorating its military inferiority vis-à-vis China.
Pictures of what appears to be a test installation of a naval railgun on a PLA Navy landing ship suggest China is moving forward with sea trials of a weapon which can threaten all Western surface assets. At the start of a huge ship-building plan, China is ideally placed to capitalise on this technology.
US President Donald Trump has hinted at a more muscular US foreign policy in Asia–Pacific. In tweets and speeches since the election, he has adopted a hard-line on North Korea and his Asia team is shaping up to reflect Trump’s hawkish stance towards China on trade and security. But it is also likely to be an eclectic group.
The timing was perfect: just as the new Trump Administration is preparing to take over in the US, Beijing has published a White Paper entitled ‘China’s Policies on Asia–Pacific Security Cooperation’. It claims to outline China’s contributions to Asia–Pacific regional security. But it fails to diminish concerns over its regional ambitions.