China is targeting Taiwan through hybrid warfare tactics including cyberattacks, the Taiwan defence ministry said in its National Defence Report 2023, released today (12 September).

The report also accuses Beijing of bolstering the number of fighters and drones at military bases along China’s Pacific coastline, a mere 130km from Taiwanese shores. Taipei says its military is learning from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to prepare a whole-of-society response should Chinese aggression escalate.

In recent months, China has ramped up military activity in the water and air space around democratically ruled Taiwan, which Beijing has long claimed as its own territory.

The report highlights China’s efforts to intimidate Taiwan through frequent military drills, stating: “The Chinese communists have been completing the expansion of airfields along the coastline of its eastern and southern theatre commands, realigning new fighters and drones to be permanently stationed there”.

Al Jazeera reported Chinese drills last month, while the Taiwanese Ministry of Defence says it detected activity of 22 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft and 20 PLA Navy vessels at 6am UTC today (12 September).

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Cyberattacks lead the assault as Taiwanese defence spending rises

State-sponsored military cyberattacks have become an increasingly common method of warfare, exemplified by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

China is a hotbed of cyberattack activity. Parliament member Wang Ting-Yu said Taiwanese intelligence data indicates that approximately 20 million cyberattacks target Taiwan each day, most of which originate in China, CBS reported.

Filings from Taiwanese companies are preoccupied by cybersecurity more than any other country, GlobalData research shows.

Taiwan’s military presence is dwarfed by China’s – which boasts the largest navy in the world. Disputes over Taiwanese sovereignty and the South China Sea have led President Tsai Ing-wen to seek geopolitical backup, primarily from the US.

Washington regards Taiwan as a partner, but, despite claiming it “does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan”, President Biden has said US forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.

Regardless, Taipei continues to boost defence spending. GlobalData’s Taiwan Defence Market Size and Trends (2023-28) report reveals that Taiwanese defence expenditure increased from $15.3bn in 2022 to $19.9bn in 2023 – a 30.3% CAGR.

President Tsai Ing-wen’s announcement that compulsory military service in Taiwan will extend from four months to one year from January 2024 is unlikely to strike fear in Chinese hearts, as Beijing ramps up defence spending to a record $241bn in 2023.

Our signals coverage is powered by GlobalData’s Thematic Engine, which tags millions of data items across six alternative datasets — patents, jobs, deals, company filings, social media mentions and news — to themes, sectors and companies. These signals enhance our predictive capabilities, helping us to identify the most disruptive threats across each of the sectors we cover and the companies best placed to succeed.