Asymmetric warfare alone unable to cope with a Chinese attack: Experts

08/09/2022 09:37 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, Aug. 9 (CNA) The recent Chinese military exercises show that Taiwan cannot rely only on asymmetric warfare to deter a Chinese attack but rather needs to strike a balance between the deployment of military weapons and the development of strategies and tactics to deal with different types of warfare, according to Taiwanese military experts.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched its unprecedented military exercise around Taiwan Aug. 4 following a 19-hour visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the nation.

During the drills, the PLA fired 11 Dongfeng short-range ballistic missiles into waters off Taiwan, while Chinese warships and fighter jets maneuvered around the island and across the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan's Navy has focused on the development of small ships such as the Tuo Chiang-class corvette. However, when the Navy monitored Chinese military movements at close range during the recent drills, it became apparent that the tonnage of Taiwan's vessels was much smaller than that of China's, which triggered discussions on the concept of asymmetric warfare.

Lin Ying-yu (林穎佑), an assistant professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said Monday the Chinese military drills demonstrate that Taiwan's armed forces need to adjust their military buildup and combat readiness as a matter of urgency.

For instance, if the PLA continues to use its Navy and Air Force to pressure Taiwan, Taiwan's Navy will need medium and large tonnage ships to effectively counter them and secure Taiwan's sea power and lines of communication at sea, while simultaneously developing asymmetric combat capabilities, Lin noted.

Separately on Monday, former Navy lieutenant commander Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩) said Taiwan's long-term development of small ships such as the Tuo Chiang-class corvette could put naval troops at a disadvantage in combat with PLA Naval forces given their much smaller size.

Therefore, Lu suggested it is imperative for Taiwan's Navy to build ships in excess of 4,000 tonnes.

When China has conducted "grey-zone" operations -- competitive acts between opposing states short of all-out warfare -- during military exercises and training targeting Taiwan, Taiwan's Navy has been barely able to respond, Lu said, adding that Taiwan's military must come up with new methods and avoid adopting a "one-on-one" surveillance war of attrition approach in the future.

However, the key point is not to return to the old way of thinking focused on building up large-scale weapons systems or adopting asymmetric operations, but rather to adopt a balanced and all-round strategy to deal with different forms of warfare, Lu said.

China's intensive live-fire military exercises around Taiwan last week provided an excellent opportunity to review Taiwan's military strategy and defensive tactics, said Shen Ming-shih (沈明室), director of the Division of National Security Research at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research.

The war between Russia and Ukraine which broke out in February has encouraged Taiwan to believe that urban guerrilla warfare is a feasible combat approach, Shen noted.

However, the PLA recognizes that urban fighting could result in a large numbers of casualties, which is why it adopted a blockade and encirclement strategy against Taiwan during the drills.

In response to the claims that one of the objectives of China's military exercises was to shatter the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial but largely adhered-to border, Shen offered a different opinion.

According to the flight path map for PLA aircraft released by Taiwan's Air Force, Chinese warplanes flew "back and forth" across the median line, he noted, adding that this shows although China does not recognize the existence of the line, it remains concerned about possible countermeasures by Taiwan's military.

Meanwhile, Yeh Gou-huei (葉國輝), head of the Ministry of National Defense's Operations and Planning Division, said at a press conference Monday that asymmetric operations should not only involve building weapon platforms, but also evolving different strategic and tactical approaches.

(By Matt Yu and Evelyn Kao)



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