Taiwan is responding to China's arms buildup by developing missiles and interceptors of its own that could reduce Beijing's military advantage over the self-ruled island, defense experts say.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, Taiwan has deployed one set of missiles, perfected another and sped production of a third, the analysts say, in the latest sign of how it's handling a Chinese military threat that is raising the chances of an armed confrontation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken a hard line against advocates of independence for the self-governed island democracy and has sent warships, bombers and fighter planes on training missions circling the island in a show of strength.
While Beijing has an increasingly overwhelming military advantage, Taiwan's missile systems advance its odds of holding off China in asymmetrical warfare, said Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan. The term refers to effective resistance of an enemy with targeted firepower rather than overwhelming force.
The two sides have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, and China still claims sovereignty over Taiwan. Beijing has not ruled out using force to unify the sides, a threat it has highlighted amid Tsai's continuing rejection of its demand that both interact as parts of a single Chinese nation.
Those missiles also underwent a "substantial upgrade" last year to increase their effectiveness against ships.
China has a powerful arsenal of missiles targeting Taiwan and raised its military budget by 8.1 percent this year, compared to Taiwan's increase of about 2 percent in 2017-2018. China is building warships at a world-setting pace, while also developing stealth fighters and bomb delivering vehicles that travel at up to six times the speed of sound.