Chinese military ‘could seize Taiwan’s government buildings’

China is making its ability to blockade Taiwan by sea and air blatantly obvious. It is also openly practicing rushing troops and tanks onto sandy beaches. But is it all a trick?

The idea of ​​what an invasion would look like was firmly rooted in operations in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Pacific during World War II.

Large numbers of troops and tanks are massed and loaded onto ships. These follow an overwhelming strike force of aircraft carriers, warships and attack aircraft before pouring their payloads onto remote shores.

But some strategic analysts warn that any invasion of Taiwan could end long before its allies can respond to help.

Taiwan’s rugged coastal terrain doesn’t make such a scenario practical, says Dmitri Alperovitch, head of the US think tank and author on geopolitics.

Instead, he argues, China’s opening moves would more likely mirror those of Russia during the early days of its invasion of Ukraine.

A large force of Spetsnaz and paratroopers aboard low-flying helicopters rushed over the border as the first shots were fired to seize Kiev’s main airport. Their goal was to secure it for a subsequent wave of troops that would attack the capital’s seat of government.

Only advance warning from the United States gave Ukrainian troops enough time to render Antonov Airport unusable and launch a spirited counterattack.

Evidence that Beijing has long been planning such a “lightning” attack against Taiwan’s government and command network may be hiding in plain sight.

A model of Taiwan’s presidential palace has been built at a remote military training camp in the desert. There is also a replica of the streetscape around the Taipei Parliament and executive government centers.

These would likely be the target of pre-positioned agents and a rapid helicopter assault.

At the same time, precision strikes and special forces would aim to protect the island nation’s key ports. A reinforcement unit of marines would likely move upriver through the heart of Taipei to protect the government district.

“All of this can happen literally within the first 30 minutes of action,” warns Alperovitch.

The heating is on

“Lai Ching-te is the first leader in the Taiwan region to be surrounded by the PLA upon taking office as a warning,” the state-controlled organization says. Global Times propagandist Hu Xijin. “In a figurative sense, this military exercise is akin to arrogant declarations by the newly appointed Lai authorities, only to be directly seized by the Continental Army and placed in a birdcage.”

China has been engaged in intense military exercises across the island since the inauguration of its new democratically elected president, (William) Lai Ching-te, on May 20.

The exercise, called Joint Sword 2024A, involved significant elements of the People’s Liberation Army, Navy, Air Force and Missile Force.

“This is also a powerful punishment for the Taiwan independence separatist forces” seeking independence and a serious warning to external forces for interference and provocations,” Chinese Eastern Theater Command spokesman China’s Eastern Theater Command spokesman told local media. Colonel Li Xi.

It was a message reinforced by a Beijing department created explicitly to confront Taiwan.

“As long as provocations over Taiwan independence continue, the People’s Liberation Army’s actions to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity will not cease,” the spokesperson of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Wednesday , Zhu Fenglian.

However, in recent years, similar exercises on the fringes of Taiwan’s territories have been conducted in increasing numbers.

“It’s clear that the operational tempo of these exercises has changed, and it’s accelerated to the point that many of these exercises are now taking place in the eastern part of the island,” said Republican Rep. Andy Barr, co-chair of the Taiwan Caucus. he told US media on Thursday.

“It is clearly a rehearsal or practice for an encirclement or blockade of the island.”

The carefully choreographed exercises, however, are repetitive.

Some suggest they may be designed to create a false impression of Beijing’s plans.

The best laid plans…

Most Western “war game” scenarios assume that a Chinese air and sea blockade and massive mobilization before a D-Day-style landing would give the United States, Japan and Taiwan’s other allies time to respond .

But Alperovitch warns that removing Taiwan’s executive government in the first hours of a war would give the United States pause. There would be no leader – like Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy – capable of rallying Taiwan’s troops and instilling a spirit of resistance in its population.

And such a surprise attack would only need China’s specialized fleet of assault ships, he explains.

“Each of them can carry around 800 soldiers and, more importantly, dozens of troop transport helicopters and gunships to carry out an air assault. They can reach the two (main) airports in 10-15 minutes,” explains Alperovitch.

Only then will Beijing have to activate its vast fleet of civilian ferries, designed and built to military specifications to carry major battle tanks. These can transport the main occupation force through Taiwan’s roll-on and roll-off commercial port infrastructure.

“You will have these transport ships, mostly civilian ships, that will be loaded with hundreds of thousands of troops, armored vehicles, tanks and logistics needed to occupy an island of 23 million people,” he told US media. week.

And if Taiwan’s ability to mount an organized resistance collapses in the first hours – or days – of an attack, its allies will find themselves pondering the price they must pay to retake the island from China.

“You will lose the ships. You will lose a lot of sailors – thousands, potentially tens of thousands of American soldiers out there,” warns Alperovitch.

Jamie Seidel is a freelance writer | @JamieSeidel

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