Here's What You Need to Remember: Any kind of actual Chinese amphibious assault upon Taiwan may very well encounter unforeseen complexities and potentially result in failure.
China is “ready for war” against the United States and Taiwan in the Pacific, according to statements from analysts quoted in a Chinese-government-backed newspaper.
The Global Times is reporting that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is massively revving up war preparation exercises near Taiwan by flying fighter jets and surveillance places through Taiwan’s “self-proclaimed Southwest air defense identification zone.”
The Chinese aircraft include the use of J-10 and J-16 fighter jets along with Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft and two KJ-500 early warning planes. As part of this integrated warfare preparation, the PLA is also conducting beach landing attacks and amphibious assault operations in waters near East China’s Fujian Province.
The Global Times report quotes an analyst saying, “Taiwan secessionists and the U.S. are leaving the Chinese mainland and the PLA with no choice but to enhance war preparedness in case of ‘Taiwan secessionism.’” By contrast, the paper also quoted Taiwanese officials not backing down when faced with these visible Chinese maneuvers, saying “Taiwan would fight to the end if the Chinese mainland attacks.”
Given all this, any kind of actual Chinese amphibious assault upon Taiwan may very well encounter unforeseen complexities and potentially result in failure. Chinese war-planners, at least when assessed in light of comments from Chinese analysts quoted in the paper, may be operating with an inflated confidence for a number of reasons.
As a maritime combat circumstance, any Chinese-driven amphibious attack would not only need to establish air superiority but also overcome U.S. and emerging Taiwanese attack submarines likely to patrol the Taiwan Strait beneath the surface of the ocean. As if that were not complicated enough, an approaching Chinese amphibious force would confront long-range, precision-guided, ground fired rockets and missiles fired to destroy or greatly derail the attacking force. Also, the comment that Taiwan would “fight to end” if confronted with a Chinese invasion is given additional credibility by virtue of the island countries’ ongoing acquisition of U.S.-built Abrams tanks. Certainly, the existence of these kinds of tanks might be able to fully stop, if not heavily delay any kind of Chinese land incursion into Taiwan by exacting an unexpected toll upon attacking forces.
Certainly, many U.S. and allied surveillance planes would detect an approaching Chinese amphibious force well before it entered closer-in, highly threatening ranges, and would likely encounter the U.S. Navy on the way, depending upon its operational proximity and presence. Given the regularity with which the U.S. operates carriers and Carrier Strike Groups near both Taiwan and the South China Sea, moving Chinese amphibious attack assets would be almost certain to encounter air attack from carrier-launched fighter jets.
Perhaps with this kind of contingency in mind, the Chinese Global Times raises the issue that U.S. amphibious assaults ships and destroyers have been conducting drills and combat exercises near Taiwan. The U.S. Navy is operating a significant blend of Carrier Strike Groups and amphibious assault ships together, a tactical move which exponentially increases scope and scale of any possible U.S. counterattack.
“Taiwan secessionists and the U.S. are leaving the Chinese mainland and the PLA with no choice but to enhance war preparedness in case of ‘Taiwan secessionism,’” the Global Times writes.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.