China’s military response to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is just talk – for now

Chinese commercial ferries (mostly) still run regularly. This is a sign that Taiwan is safe from invasion – for now.

Beijing’s warships surrounded the small island democracy. Fighter planes cross their borders. The missiles are scheduled to be launched at the hastily evacuated shipping lanes around and within its territorial waters.

But military analysts say the warning signs of an all-out invasion have yet to be fully realized.

“We will also see efforts to mobilize civilian ships, given the limited amphibious units in China,” says Taylor Fravel, director of the MIT Security Studies Program. “In the age of real-time monitoring, there will be satellite images similar to those in the lead-up to the Russian invasion.”

The tension across the strait is severe.

one accident. One misunderstanding. This is all it would take for a clash between the armed forces of China, Taiwan and the United States to erupt.

“We are not eager to fight, and we will not be ashamed to fight it,” the Department of National Defense in Taweni says. The People’s Republic of China’s announcement of air and sea live-fire exercises around Taiwan is self-evident that it seeks a cross-strait solution by force rather than peaceful means.

“Activities around our territory are being closely monitored…and our appropriate responses will be met when needed.”

For its part, China’s Eastern Theater Command issued a press release saying that the exercises, which were described as a quick response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, were to exercise “combined siege, naval offensive, ground offensive, and air combat capabilities.”

It was noted that China’s newest Type 055 missile cruisers and aircraft carriers are heading towards the region. Mobile ballistic missile vehicles carrying “aircraft carrier killer” weapons were also seen moving toward the Taiwan Strait.

But, to date, the basic components of physical invasion are still absent.

There are no soldiers massing at the main military ports. No large concentrations of tanks, trucks and transportation vehicles were detected. China’s clandestine invasion fleet of largely disguised civilian ferries remains on its trade routes.

modern talk

The commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee last year that Beijing would likely attempt to invade Taiwan within the next six years.

“I think our concerns come up here during this decade…you know, the number of ships, planes, missiles, etc. that they’ve put in the field,” he said.

President Xi Jinping also made completing the “unfinished business” of his Communist Party a key element of his reign. Taiwan is the last undefeated stronghold in the 1949 civil war.

He has spent most of the past decade making sure that China has an army capable of carrying out his wishes. In fact, he gave her a deadline to be ready by: 2020.

The 69-year-old Navy is now the world’s largest, if not the strongest. Its air force has been updated. He reorganized his army. The islands and reefs in the South China Sea have been captured and turned into enormous fortresses.

Recently, the rhetoric from Beijing has become very hot. Taiwan is back on the agenda. US officials recently warned that China may be planning to take a “strong move against Taiwan” over the next 18 months, according to a recent report. The New York Times Report.

However, not everyone agrees. CIA Director Bill Burns said last week that no attack was expected imminent – but added that the danger “increases, it seems to us, as you progress into this decade.”

rambling

Now it appears that uncertainty about the ability and willingness of the United States to intervene is holding Xi back.

If he decides to move, the mobilization of the Chinese army will likely appear months in advance.

And the dead giveaway will be the diversion of China’s phrases.

Only last year China launched its first helicopter-platform attack ship, the Type 075. Analysts note that these — and their amphibious assault ship cousins ​​— are too few to carry an invasion force into Taiwan.

But Beijing’s policy of “civilian-military fusion” (essentially ensuring that civilian infrastructure is built to military standards) means that its massive fleet of foldable car ferries is operational.

“These are ships equipped with built-in ramps that allow wheeled and tracked cargo to be loaded and unloaded according to their own power. Conor Kennedy, an analyst at Jamestown Corporation noted last year that such ships have the potential to deliver a significant amount of power, providing access to terminals Ports or other means of transportation are available.

“For Chinese RO-RO ships to support an amphibious attack scenario, their ramps must be able to conduct operations in the water to launch amphibious combat vehicles. This capability appears to have been publicly demonstrated in the summer of 2020 by the PRC-flagged ship Bang Chui Dao. “.

Since then, Thomas Shugart, a strategic advisor for the new American security, has done the math. He identified 34 large military-grade RO-RO ships capable of rushing between four to seven brigades of the Chinese army to the shores of Taiwan within a day.

“Keep in mind that this is *in addition to* what can be delivered via paradrop, attack by helicopter, and of course the PLA Navy’s conventional amphibious assault ships, which are likely to lead the attack,” Shugart tweeted.

signs and signs

“The PLA’s exercises surrounding Taiwan are aimed at demonstrating their ability to besiege the entire island and resolve the Taiwan issue by non-peaceful ways, if the situation becomes irreparable,” threatens the CPC spokesperson, Global Times.

“The exercises should be seen as a rehearsal for a war plan…in the event of a future military conflict, it is likely that the operational plans currently being rehearsed will be translated into direct combat operations.”

Three of China’s largest RO-RO vessels last month turned their usual course. Shugart follows them to shores near the Taiwan Strait which are often associated with China’s bridgehead training events. He adds that training their crews to deal with the invasion force is another step toward being fully prepared.

At least two have since returned to their ports.

But this does not mean that a sudden invasion of Taiwanese territory is unattainable.

“I think they could take something like Pratas without getting involved in movements that would be visible at the open source level,” Shugart says. “For all we know, there is enough LSD [dock landing ships] To go, take something like Pratas Island – but not Taiwan proper. “

But Columbia University political science professor Andrew Nathan believes Beijing has been so successful in “long game” tactics so far that it is unlikely to take direct action.

He writes: “Beijing can wait for power in the western Pacific to tilt decisively in its favour.”

When Washington understands that the cost of defending Taiwan is beyond its means, and Taiwanese officials realize that Washington no longer desires a clash with China, Taiwan will pragmatically negotiate an arrangement that Beijing can accept.

Meanwhile, China only needs to deter Taipei and Washington from trying to secure formal Taiwanese independence. Thus, Beijing’s displays of force are not signs of an imminent attack, but rather measures designed to buy time for history to run its course.”

Jimmy Seidl Freelance Writer | Tweet embed

Originally published as China’s response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, all talk no action – for now

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