China’s amphibious capabilities insufficient for Taiwan invasion: Analyst

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Taiwanese soldiers during live-fire part of Han Kuang exercise in July. Taiwanese soldiers during live-fire part of Han Kuang exercise in July. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Institute for National Defense and Security Research military analyst Ou Hsi-fu (歐錫富) has said that China’s amphibious capabilities are still insufficient for it to carry out a successful invasion of Taiwan.

In a report published July 29 titled “Amphibious operations capability of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in an attack on Taiwan,” Ou said China has multiple kinds of military ships it could use to facilitate a beach landing, including its Type 075 amphibious assault ship, Type 071 transport dock, and Type 072 landing ship. Its Type 958 and 726 hovercraft could transport PLA troops to Taiwan’s shores quickly, he added.

Ou said that China’s current beach landing strategy is to deploy Type 726 hovercrafts and Type 071 transport docks carrying troops, amphibious armored vehicles, and Type 96 tanks. Meanwhile, transport helicopters such as the Changhe Z-8 would provide multi-directional, three-dimensional air support to suppress the enemy.

However, even with China’s growing fleet of amphibious warships, there are still some factors that prevent the PLA from being able to pull off a beach assault.

For example, the number of shipborne helicopters is inadequate for the time being, Ou said. In addition, the Type 726 hovercraft is said to lack the power required to make it across the Taiwan Strait.

Additionally, the analyst said that if China really chooses to invade Taiwan, its first wave of amphibious forces will only number about 400,000 soldiers, which is likely no match for Taiwan’s defenses. Nevertheless, Ou said that China’s amphibious combat forces pose the greatest threat to Taiwan and are the primary reason for Taiwan’s strengthened asymmetric warfare strategy.

Ou recommended the Taiwan military continue observing developments in China’s amphibious capabilities and come up with countermeasures.

Japan to deploy missiles 300 km off coast of Taiwan in 2022 to deter China

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan’s defense ministry is reportedly planning to deploy missile units on an island 300 kilometers off the coast of Taiwan in an effort to counter China’s growing naval presence in the area and defend against a potential Chinese attack.

The Japan News on Tuesday (Aug. 3), reported that Tokyo intends to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) missile units on the island of Ishigaki, which is only 306 km from Taoyuan Taiwan International Airport. The news service cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that the new units will be installed next year and be manned by 500 to 600 Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops.

The installation of new units will make Ishigaki the fourth island in the Nansei island chain to be armed with missiles. This island chain runs southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan and is situated on the strategic first island chain that stretches from the Kuril Islands in the north to Borneo in the south.

One of the new units will reportedly include surface-to-ship and ground-to-air missiles, while another unit will handle the initial reaction to a military attack. The missile batteries on Ishigaki will join existing units on Amami-Oshima, Okinawa, and Miyako islands.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has increasingly been patrolling the Miyako Strait between Okinawa and Miyako islands, including warships such as the Liaoning aircraft carrier. Japan’s missile installations are meant to serve as a deterrent and are within range of disputed territories such as the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku Islands).

In addition, the Japanese defense ministry is reportedly planning on installing an electronic warfare unit on Yonaguni island by the end of 2023 and building a new SDF base on the island of Mageshima.

Chinese commentator vows retaliation for Japan’s missiles near Taiwan

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — If Japan attacks China with the missiles it plans to deploy on a small island near Taiwan, Beijing will destroy Japan’s military, a hawkish Chinese commentator said Thursday (Aug. 5).

Hu Xijin (胡錫進) serves as the editor-in-chief of the state-owned Global Times tabloid and is known for targeting critics of China’s communist regime with harsh statements.

Japanese media reports said the military planned to deploy missiles and more than 500 troops on Ishigaki, a small island in Okinawa just 300 kilometers east of Taiwan. Their main purpose is to monitor Chinese naval activity in the area and to counter a Chinese attack.

Hu said the plan amounted to Japan “carrying the ammunition” for the United States to bomb China, UDN reported. In the event of a cross-strait war and Japan intervening, Ishigaki and the small islands nearby would immediately be at the receiving end of a massive attack, Hu warned.

Military bases in Japan would not be safe either, the writer said. He also named the types of missiles China could use to take revenge for more than a century of Japanese actions since 1895, when their first war ended with the loss of Taiwan to Japan.

Commenting on the U.S. decision to sell 40 M109A6 self-propelled howitzers to Taiwan, Hu claimed they would be useless as China would saturate Taiwan’s military installations with attacks, so there would be no place for the weapons to be used. Any U.S. military equipment would be destroyed or fall into the hands of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Hu wrote.