In spite of slowly improving cross-strait ties, China’s progressing armament has Taiwan’s military fearing a full-scale invasion one day.

According to a report by the China Post, a Taiwan English-language newspaper, the Ministry of National Defense said in a report that mainland China’s increasingly strong military will be capable of launching an attack against the island republic as soon as 2020.

Taiwan, officially still the Republic of China, governs itself like a de facto sovereign state, maintaining its own government, currency and military independent from the People’s Republic of China, which considers it a breakaway province. The report by the Ministry of National Defense notes that Beijing has never formally renounced the use of force against Taiwan to prevent it from declaring independence, despite the thawing of relations between the two governments.

The MND says that there is evidence that the People’s Liberation Army of China -- which is the largest in the world in manpower -- continues to target Taipei, and is a continued threat.

China has just put a big price tag on its military budget this year at $131 billion. Announced this week during annual parliamentary meetings in Beijing, the budget will give the PLA more flexibility to situate military hardware and bolster its presence in areas where China has territorial disputes with many of its Asian neighbors, including Taiwan. The PLA has announced plans to manufacture and deploy reconnaissance satellites, develop weapon systems for drone aircraft, a new aircraft carrier and ballistic missiles, among other new endeavors.  

In response to such concerns, Taiwan’s armed forces have strengthened their own defense capabilities with new American-made P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.

The military developments on both ends are somewhat surprising considering the recent progress made between the two governments. In early February, Taiwan and China held their highest-level bilateral talks in 65 years, marking the first government-to-government contact since the Communists drove the Nationalists off the mainland in 1949. After the meeting, both sides agreed to keep an open communication channel.