In late March, A Taiwanese data analyst posted on social media about a strange satellite image: It appears that Chinese military At one of its remote military bases in Inner Mongolia, it built a series of roads that perfectly recreated the roads surrounding the presidential palace in Taipei. This revelation seems to confirm the seriousness with which Chinese officials are dealing with President Xi Jinping’s directives to prepare to invade the independent island by the late 2020s. In the context of research for his new book, The World on the Brink: How America Can Defeat China in the Race to the 21st CenturyDmitri Alperovitch traveled to Taiwan, spoke with several high-ranking officials and national security planners in Taiwan and the United States, and walked the potential invasion area to imagine how such an invasion might occur. His scenario, excerpted here and which he imagines taking place on November 13, 2028, serves as an introduction to the new book.

Book cover of A World on the Brink

Courtesy of Hachette Book Group

Winter in Taiwan, which lasts from November to March, is great for surfers. It’s not Bali or Hawaii, where the size and consistency of the waves may vary, but the northeast monsoon, which brings the waters of the cold China Coastal Current into the Taiwan Strait, where it meets the warm Kuroshio Branch Current coming from the south, has been known to create some significant waves. The Taiwan Strait is only about a hundred meters deep, shallow enough that the island of Taiwan was effectively connected to the Chinese mainland during the ice ages and the time of the glaciers. But even in modern times, the 200-mile-long passage — which ranges from about 100 nautical miles to just 70 nautical miles in width and is one of the world’s most vital shipping routes — is known for frequent storms and large waves. , blinding fog and marred by annual summer typhoons from approximately May to October. Between summer hurricanes and the winter’s stormy, high-surface season, there’s no perfect, easy, predictable time to launch a large-scale amphibious invasion. TaiwanEspecially since the Strait experiences about 150 days a year wind speeds exceeding 20 knots and rough waves for amphibious ships and landing craft. Any landing on Taiwan’s rocky, shallow, windy shores during that period is risky. For this reason, China eventually decided to abandon beach landings and attempt an air attack on the island’s port facilities and airfields, as their capture would allow rapid access for follow-on forces and logistical supplies to facilitate a successful occupation. .

PLA operational planners had years to think about their invasion strategy, adapting year by year as China’s military capabilities grew and advanced. Eventually, due to the unpredictability of the turbulent Taiwan Strait waters and the heavy fortifications the Taiwanese had erected around potential beach landing sites, the People’s Liberation Army came up with an innovative invasion plan – the opening stages of which they rehearsed repeatedly as it unfolded in late 2020. For several years, China has been engaged in Large-scale military maneuvers, loading huge fleets of military and civilian ships with tens of thousands of troops, equipment and equipment and heading towards Taiwan, always stopping short of 12 nautical miles. The border that marks the beginning of the island’s territorial waters. They thought they could do this with impunity, because they knew Taiwan would never be able to respond forcefully. One of the island’s biggest defensive dilemmas has long been its inability to respond to hostile provocations and threats with force – for fear of being accused of inciting conflict. American officials had warned the Taiwanese leadership for years that under no circumstances would they be able to fire the first shot, and they had to take the Chinese punch before retaliating. Portraying China as the aggressor would be a crucial step in building the international case that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is solely responsible for starting any war. The stakes could not have been higher: after all, even if the Taiwanese had first fired on the PLA fleet after it had crossed Taiwan’s territorial border, Beijing could still object to the firing as unprovoked, and claim it occurred in international waters, muddying the geopolitical waters. So much so that Taiwan risks losing key moral and diplomatic support around the world. Many countries wanted the excuse: they would be very keen to continue trading with China, the world’s second-largest economy, regardless of the conflict. If Taiwan is to survive and rally the world to its cause, it cannot make this excuse.

The PLA’s final plan relied specifically on Taiwanese restraint when Chinese ships entered Taiwan’s waters and closed in on the vital northwest coastal port of Taipei, a state-of-the-art facility completed in 2012 that included a so-called 4,500-foot berth space, a large amount of Space available for unloading goods. There are plans by the People’s Liberation Army to utilize existing infrastructure to offload hundreds of thousands of troops, thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, heavy engineering equipment, weapons, ammunition, and logistical supplies needed to quickly invade the island. While Taipei was not Taiwan’s largest port, rapid seizure of the docks was essential to the success of the operation, since other Taiwanese port facilities were too far from the capital. This distance and the wide range of steep mountains and winding rivers in Taiwan made rapid transportation of a large PLA armored force from any other port or shore to the capital impossible.

The operational plan called for eight modern Type 075 Yuchen amphibious assault ships, each weighing more than 30,000 tons, to be moved up to Taiwan’s maritime border, while protected by guided missile destroyers of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Xi Jinping’s regime quickly built the Yuchen ships precisely with this mission in mind; Each was a highly capable delivery platform for air assault operations, carrying a combination of up to 28 heavy attack and transport helicopters and 800 troops. In the early morning hours, once the final order is issued, 200 Z-8 and Z-20 transport helicopters, all supported by Z-10 attack gunships, will take off from the docks and head to Taipei Port, as well as Taoyuan International Airport, some distance away. 10 miles south, and the smaller Taipei Songshan Airport, located in the center of the capital, is just three miles north of the Chung Cheng government district. The plan called for helicopters to make the flight within 10 minutes. (Ironically, these aircraft were built based on legally acquired Western technology, with the Z-8 coming from an original design licensed from France, and the Z-20 from the UH-60 Black Hawk, which America sold to China in the 1980s.) The Z-10 was built using Pratt & Whitney engines and assisted by European Airbus and AgustaWestland rotor and transmission mounting designs.)

Helicopter brigades of the People’s Liberation Army Airborne Corps (PLAAF), the Chinese equivalent of the 101st Airborne Division in the United States, would attack, seize and secure port and airfield facilities, in preparation for follow-on forces with armored vehicles that would land at airfields aboard Chinese Y-20 and Russian-made IL-76 troop transport aircraft. As these transport planes landed, dozens of large ferries and vehicle transport ships – all built to “national defense requirements” and taken over by the PLAN from Chinese industry – were rushing into the captured port and unloading their cargo. Tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tanks and additional infantry fighting vehicles. Anticipating that the Taiwanese would be able to destroy the port infrastructure before the Chinese landing, the PLA spent years practicing rapid unloading of these ships in ports with minimal cargo handling infrastructure, such as no quayside ramps or supporting tugboats. At the same time, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s ground-based missiles, missiles and bombers, along with attack aircraft deployed from two Chinese carriers stationed off Taiwan’s east coast, will strike Taiwanese air bases in an attempt to knock the island’s relatively small air force out of commission before it can. Engage in combat — destroying runways, fuel depots and maintenance infrastructure and targeting the island’s valuable fleet of F-16 fighter jets. Precision-guided ballistic and cruise missiles from the mainland, along with long-range, truck-mounted PHL-16 multiple rocket launchers and drones, will all target fixed radars, fixed weapons platforms, command and control, communications nodes, and maritime facilities. and energy infrastructure, television and radio broadcast towers to sow chaos and hinder the Taiwanese military’s highly centralized decision-making process. US-made Patriot air defense batteries, as well as Taiwan’s domestically developed Sky Bow systems, troop barracks, and anti-ship batteries, were also high-priority targets.

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