China’s Military Increases Forceful Island-Capture Tactics: Pentagon

  • The Pentagon says China’s military is increasingly training to seize the islands.
  • In a new report, the Pentagon assessed that the training to capture the island of Beijing is becoming more realistic.
  • The US has accused China of aggressive behavior around Taiwan and the South China Sea.

China’s military is spending an increasing amount of time conducting maneuvers focused on seizing islands by force, according to a new report from China’s Ministry of Defense.

The report, released by the Pentagon on Tuesday, outlines China’s latest military and security developments and aims to provide Congress with insight into Beijing’s intentions and goals. As a comprehensive assessment of China’s military power, the report outlines the threat China poses to the democratic island of Taiwan.

The Pentagon reported that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) intensified “diplomatic, political and military pressure” against Taiwan throughout 2021 and increased “provocative and destabilizing actions” across the region.

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These actions included “island capture exercises” and flights into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) — moves Beijing continued until 2022.

As in the past year, the island-grabbing drills have become “repeated and more realistic,” the defense ministry said, explaining that the PLA has conducted more than 20 naval drills that had elements of island-grabbing, compared with 13 similar drills in the past. The year of the exercises — some of which were conducted by the Chinese military in waters near Taiwan — had already been publicized in Chinese state media.

“Many of these exercises focused on combat realism and included night missions, training in adverse weather conditions and simultaneous multi-domain operations,” the Pentagon said in its report. Combat realism in training has been central to Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s military modernization efforts, which aim to create a world-class force that can fight and win wars.

And China’s leadership has never ruled out the use of force as an option to achieve its unification goals with Taiwan, which China considers part of its independent territory.

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In a specific assessment of possible military action China could take against Taiwan, the Pentagon concluded that a massive amphibious invasion would be a difficult feat for Beijing. Such an operation, which is among the most complex to carry out, requires significant support, air and sea control, and sufficient resources. Such an undertaking would significantly strain PLA forces, and there are significant risks involved.

“These factors, combined with inevitable force attrition, the complexity of urban warfare and potential insurgency, make an amphibious invasion of Taiwan a significant political and military risk for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, even assuming a successful landing and defeat,” the Pentagon said. » said.

However, the Defense Ministry noted that while China may struggle with a full-scale invasion of Taiwan, it could seize smaller Taiwanese-controlled islands such as Pratas or Ito Aba in the South China Sea. The Pentagon also said that “an attack on a medium-sized, better-defended island like Matsu or Kinmen is within the PLA’s capabilities.”

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The Pentagon said such a move would show capability and determination while showing restraint, but there were still political risks, such as strong international condemnation.

In addition to Beijing’s long-standing focus on Taiwan, China also has competing claims to offshore islands and reefs in the South China Sea, where China has been building military bases and strengthening its position.

The US has accused China of increasingly aggressive behavior around the South China Sea, and US officials have previously warned that China’s “irresponsible behaviour” could lead to a “major accident or incident”. The latest warnings come amid escalating tensions between China and the US over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Earlier this month, Vice President Kamala Harris made a rare trip to one of the hot spots in the South China Sea, specifically the Philippine island of Palawan, which overlooks disputed areas in the strategic waterway. China’s response was more limited than when Pelosi visited Taiwan.

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