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A member of Taiwan's armed forces holds a weapon atop a CM-11 Brave Tiger main battle tank during a military exercise in Hukou, Hsinchu County, Taiwan, on Jan. 19, 2021.
A member of Taiwan's armed forces holds a weapon atop a CM-11 Brave Tiger main battle tank during a military exercise in Hukou, Hsinchu County, Taiwan, on Jan. 19, 2021. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg)

Taiwan warned that China could "paralyze" its defenses in a conflict, a stark new assessment expected to fuel calls in Washington for more support for the democratically ruled island.

China was able to neutralize Taiwan's air-and-sea defenses and counter-attack systems with "soft and hard electronic attacks," the Defense Ministry in Taipei said in an annual report to lawmakers seen by Bloomberg News. The document offered a more alarming assessment than last year's report, which had said China still lacked the capability to launch an assault.

While Beijing wasn't believed to possess the transport and logistical capacity necessary for an invasion of Taiwan's large and mountainous main island, the ministry recommended monitoring Chinese efforts to expand training and preparations for complex landing operations. China already has the ability to seize Taiwan's surrounding islands, it said.

Defense Ministry said the report speaks for itself and declined further comment.

Policymakers in the U.S. and Japan have expressed growing concern about Taiwan's vulnerability to attack after decades of Chinese military investment and President Xi Jinping's efforts to ramp up pressure on the island's government. The Communist Party views Taiwan as part of its territory, even though it has never controlled it, and has threatened military force to prevent the leadership in Taipei from moving toward formal independence.

In recent years, the People's Liberation Army has stepped up incursions into Taiwan's air-defense-identification zone in what security analysts view as an effort to show its ability to deny any allied effort to defend the island. The U.S. has continued to supply arms to support the government in Taipei, despite breaking ties in favor of Beijing more than four decades ago, and American lawmakers have urged greater efforts to sure up its defenses.

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry reaffirmed a list of seven events that might prompt a Chinese invasion, some of which Beijing has already accused Taiwan of doing:

— Taiwan declares independence.

— Taiwan clearly heads toward independence.

— Taiwan suffers internal turmoil.

— Taiwan obtains nuclear weapons.

— Dialogue on peaceful unification has been delayed.

— Foreign forces intervene in Taiwan's internal affairs.

— Foreign troops are stationed in Taiwan.

China's incursions across the median last year appeared to be an attempt to gauge its response, the report said. The PLA's deployment of mid- and long-range missiles and drills involving aircraft carriers were intended to demonstrate its ability to delay any foreign military intervention, the report said.

Potential Chinese action toward Taiwan include cognitive warfare, gray-area threats, joint military deterrence, seizing outer islands and a decapitation strike, the report said.

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