US sees Taiwan as vulnerable to Chinese air attack — report – DW – 04/15/2023

Taiwan would struggle to stave off an aerial offensive from China, US newspaper The Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing leaked secret documents.

The documents, allegedly leaked by a US national guardsman, apparently question Taiwan’s air defenses and their capability to “accurately detect missile launches.” The same info apparently shows that just over half of Taiwan’s aircraft are “fully mission capable,” or ready to engage with the enemy.

Taiwan reportedly fears it could take several days to move aircraft to sheltered positions, which would leave them open to Chinese missile strikes.

The Washington Post also reported that China’s use of civilian ships for military purposes was impeding US intelligence’s ability to predict the possibility of an invasion.

China’s military drills

Last weekend, China launched three days of large-scale military drills near Taiwan involving simulated multiple targeted strikes and a blockade of the island, which it claims as its own.

The drills came after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles. Beijing is enraged by any diplomatic activity that they believe reinforces Taiwan’s claims of independence. 

China has vowed to bring Taiwan under its control, by force if necessary.

Tensions remain high between China and Taiwan

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In the Washington Post article, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry was quoted as saying that it “respects outside opinions about its military preparedness” but also that its defense systems are “carefully constructed based on enemy threats” and its officers were “absolutely capable, determined and confident” to ensure security.

What we know about the leaked documents

A 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard is suspected of leaking the highly classified documents online  and made his first court appearance on Friday in Boston.

He faces two separate counts according to the US Justice Department. They include the unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information, and the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material.

The documents were reportedly leaked on a chatroom on Discord, a social media platform, where the serviceman is believed to have posted for years about his interest in guns, games and his favorite memes. 

US government officials have called for a thorough investigation into how the documents leaked and why it went unnoticed when it first circulated on Discord.

The documents are also believed to contain sensitive information about the Ukraine’s military capabilities and shortcomings.

US intel leak suspect appears in court

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kb/dj (AFP, dpa)

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