Naval War College Review


Toshi Yoshihara


In recent years, defense analysts in the United States have substantially revised their estimates of China’s missile prowess. A decade ago, most observers rated Beijing’s ballistic missiles as inaccurate, blunt weapons limited to terrorizing ci- vilian populations. Today, the emerging consensus within the U.S. strategic community is that China’s arsenal can infl ict lethal harm with precision on a wide ange of military targets, including ports and airfi elds. As a consequence, many observers have jettisoned previously sanguine net assessments that conferred de- cisive, qualitative advantages to Taiwan in the cross-strait military balance. Indeed, the debates on China’s coercive power and Taiwan’s apparent inability to resist such pressure have taken on a palpably fatalistic tone.