Chinese drills could provide lessons on tackling future threats: Experts

08/04/2022 10:07 PM
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A Patriot missile launcher is deployed by the Keelung River in Taipei during the recent Han Kuang military exercises in late July. CNA file photo
A Patriot missile launcher is deployed by the Keelung River in Taipei during the recent Han Kuang military exercises in late July. CNA file photo

Taipei, Aug. 4 (CNA) China's ongoing live-fire drills around Taiwan could provide insights into how to meet future threats from the People's Liberation Army (PLA), experts said Thursday at a forum in Taipei.

Following a visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Tuesday to Wednesday, Taiwanese pro-democracy activist Yang Chih-yuan (楊智淵) was detained in China, Taiwan Thinktank consultant Tung Li-wen (董立文) told the audience at a forum about Pelosi's visit and its immediate repercussions in the Taiwan Strait.

Also, a Chinese drone was flown by Taiwan's outlying Kinmen County, Dongfeng missiles were fired by the PLA into waters off Taiwan, and multiple PLA aircraft breached the Taiwan Strait median line, he added.

This demonstrates that it is not a question of "if" China would militarily invade Taiwan, but "when" and "how" it would do so, Tung said, adding that Taipei and Washington should observe the live-fire drills, which started Thursday and are set to last until Sunday, Aug. 7, and use them as a guide to formulate a strategy for future Chinese aggression.

The drills' six maritime zones designated by the PLA around Taiwan have revealed the basic configuration of a possible future military invasion by China, said Ma Chen-kun (馬振坤), director of the Graduate Institute of China Military Affairs Studies at National Defense University.

However, whether the PLA could achieve the results it had hoped for when it orchestrated the current blockade drills -- for example, suppressing the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan's official name) armed forces in the early stages of their combat preparations -- will depend on what maneuvers it adopts during the drills in the coming days, Ma said.

Despite the ROC's air and sea defense capabilities acting as a deterrence to the PLA, the drills will fundamentally eliminate a tacit agreement between the two sides, which is that the Taiwan Strait median line should not be breached, he said.

Taiwan should expect a vastly increased number of incidents in which the PLA crosses the strait's median line in the future, which will mean the ROC forces will have less room to mount air or sea defenses, making their jobs even more challenging, he said.

Taiwan should not just focus on developing asymmetrical defense capabilities, but should also maintain a reasonably sized military, effective air and sea deterrence, and beyond-visual-range striking capabilities, which are all necessary to help Taiwan counter blockades, he said.

Separately on Thursday, former ROC Navy lieutenant commander Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩) said the PLA could fire missiles across Taiwan into a maritime zone off the nation's eastern coast which it had demarcated as a location for the live-fire drills.

The point of doing so would be to rattle Taiwanese by triggering Taiwan's cell broadcast system, so that people will receive missile alerts, Lu said in a Facebook post.

Lu noted that the six "carefully placed" zones encircling Taiwan did not fit the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law's definition of a blockade, but were more likely positioned with the intention of demonstrating the PLA's firepower.

The scenario envisioned by Lu would involve missiles being launched from the Chinese cities of Leping and Ganzhou in Jiangxi Province, as well as the city of Danzhou in Hainan province.

Judging by the distance between the three Chinese cities and the PLA-designated maritime zone off Taiwan's eastern coast and south of Japan's Yonaguni Island, the PLA is likely to fire Dongfeng-15 short-range ballistic missiles across Taipei and Taichung from Leping and Ganzhou respectively, as well as Dongfeng-16 mid-range ballistic missiles from Danzhou across Kaohsiung, Lu said.

He also predicted that the PLA would fire PHL-191 long-range rockets into a PLA-designated maritime zone northwest of Taiwan from a location in Fujian Province across a 500km circular sector that encompasses Taiwan.

This would allow the PLA to intimidate Taiwanese as they would see photos of rockets plunging into the sea and also distract ROC ships and aircraft patrolling near the Taiwan Strait median line, he said.

The PLA fired several long-range missiles into designated maritime zones off northeastern, southwestern, and eastern Taiwan on Thursday.

According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, four of the missiles are believed to have flown over Taiwan before landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

However, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense would not confirm whether the missiles were fired over Taiwan, saying only that the military is using various early-warning and monitoring mechanisms to track missiles fired by the PLA and has activated related defense systems.

(By Matt Yu and Sean Lin)

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Update

Aug. 8: China changes previously announced timetable, PLA drills continue

Aug. 8: China's Yellow Sea drills won't affect Taiwan int'l flights: MOTC

Aug. 7: China sends 66 warplanes, 14 warships around Taiwan Sunday

Aug. 6: 20 Chinese warplanes, 14 warships deployed around Taiwan: MND

Aug. 6: U.S., Japan, Australia urge China to stop military drills

Aug. 6: Taiwan companies told to abide by China's labeling rule: MOEA

Aug. 6: 20 Chinese warplanes, 14 warships deployed around Taiwan: MND

Aug. 6: U.S., Japan, Australia urge China to stop military drills

Aug. 6: Taiwan companies told to abide by China's labeling rule: MOEA

 Aug. 5: MOFA reports continued cyberattacks seeking to crash its website

Aug. 5: China's drills a 'new normal' aimed at changing status quo: Experts

Aug. 5: 68 Chinese warplane, 13 warship sorties recorded around Taiwan: MND

Aug. 5: International flights avoiding Taipei FIR due to China drills: Official

Aug. 5: Defense ministry stays quiet on PLA missiles flying over Taiwan

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