Chinese drills aligned with plans for taking Taiwan by force: Expert

08/08/2022 06:02 PM
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Military vessels are pictured at the Navy
Military vessels are pictured at the Navy's base in the northern port city of Keelung Saturday. CNA photo Aug. 6, 2022

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) China's recent live-fire military exercises around Taiwan were consistent with its plans for using force against Taiwan and part of a broader approach of joint attack operations against large islands, a military commentator said Sunday.

The drills conducted by China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) came in various stages and focused on different targets, said Chieh Chung (揭仲), a research fellow at the Association of Strategic Foresight.

In the first phase, the drills focused mainly on "joint fire assault operations," including the launch of ballistic missiles by rocket teams of the PLA's Eastern Theater Command into maritime target areas around Taiwan on Aug. 4.

These drills simulated long-range precision attacks targeting designated areas in northern, southern, central and eastern Taiwan proper, according to Chieh.

The PLA also deployed large numbers of fighter planes and warships around Taiwan on Aug. 4 in simulations aimed at reinforcing the ballistic missile launches, Chieh said.

In the Aug. 4 drills, PLA military aircraft and warships fired long-distance precision-guided munitions at targets already attacked by the ballistic missiles to boost the impact of the "joint fire assault operations."

During the second phase of the exercises Aug. 5-6, the PLA tested a "joint blockade operation" in which the fighter jets and warships simulated cutting off sea and air traffic from Taiwan proper, Chieh said.

The goal was to restrict the mobilization of Taiwan's Navy and Air Force and disable those forces to seize sea and air superiority around Taiwan, including in the western Pacific Ocean, Chieh said.

The third phase of exercises Aug. 6-7 may have been focused on simulating a "joint island-landing operation," Chieh said.

Under that scenario, the PLA Navy and Air Force provided cover for ships carrying landing troops, transport aircraft groups and helicopter groups, and advanced toward various target areas on Taiwan proper.

In the process, in addition to breaking through intercept attempts by Taiwan's Navy and Air Force, the PLA troops attacked Taiwan's garrisons and defensive positions on Taiwan proper to support the PLA's island landing operations, he said.

Due to the limited scale of mobilization, Chieh said, some scenarios related to China's armed invasion may have involved computer wargames or command post exercises, including scenarios dealing with foreign military intervention.

Chieh said some other scenarios were carried out on a small scale, such as a cyber attack targeting the official website of the Ministry of National Defense on Aug. 3 night and the appearance of Chinese drones over Taiwan's outlying islands such as Kinmen and Dongyin.

Those actions, Chieh said, may have been simulations of the PLA's tactical reconnaissance operations to be conducted before launching attacks on these outlying islands.

The PLA deliberately divided the drills into various stages conducted over four days so that troops could be deployed, their performance could be more easily evaluated, and the intimidation effect of the drills could be magnified, Chieh said.

China announced plans to hold four days of live-fire military exercises around Taiwan from Aug. 4-7 in the wake of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the self-ruled democracy, despite international calls to calm tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Aug. 2, ignoring warnings and threats by China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and opposes any official interactions that imply otherwise.

Pelosi's stopover, part of a wider tour of Asia, made the 82-year-old California Democrat the first sitting U.S. House speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997.

(By Novia Huang and Evelyn Kao)

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Update

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