How China’s potential offensive on Taiwan could play out — Analysis

Beijing boasts a more powerful military but it would be very difficult to land, particularly with Taipei being supported by the US.

By German Kulikovskiy, military and political analyst, author of the @vysokygovorit Telegram channel

China’s potential invasion of Taiwan would be a problem because Beijing would need to fork out for it. One reason why a Normandy-style landing would fail in Taiwan is that it wouldn’t be possible to do so. First, potential landing zones on the southwestern and northern/northeastern coasts of Taiwan were identified by both sides decades ago; outside of these areas, putting troops on the ground is only possible using helicopters – it is difficult, if not outright impossible, for naval troops to advance from the beaches in those areas. China is limited to two amphibious assault boats, making it impossible to launch a helicopter assault across the Taiwan Strait.

The second is how the US might react. Although it’s not certain if it would offer military aid to Taiwan, Taiwan will be receiving support for reconnaissance. In this context, China’s efforts to gather troops from China and transport them on ships and helicopters won’t go unnoticed by Taipei. The Germans were required to predict the date and the location of the Allied offensive in 1944. Taiwan has known the location and time of the Allied offensive since 1949. Taiwan will only be informed about the timing one day ahead.

The landing operation will be led by China’s East Sea Fleet. It will also include the South and North Fleets as well as aircraft carriers. This provides cover from a long distance. The landing troops of the North and South fleets, at least in part, will be re-assigned to the East Sea Fleet – a transfer that the US would be able to track.

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It is possible to assume that China’s top-of-the-line vessels will carry the first wave landing troops: the Type 071 amphibious transport ship (full load displacement of 25,000 tonnes) and the Type 075 amphibious assault boats (40,000 tons). China owns eight Type 071 and two Type 705 ships. These ships can be equipped with boats or helicopters that allow them to carry out over-the horizon landing operations. China will use more traditional tank landing ships with equipment and troops. China is home to dozens such ships: the Type 074 weighs 700 tons, the Type 072 ranges from 4,200 – 4,800 tons, and the Type 072 weighs between 4200 – 5,800.

However, it’s very unlikely that all these assault ships would be used to land ground forces. One of the ships would be assigned to support missions until at least one port is secure and available for transport vessels with supplies.

At this point, securing supply and communications is the matter of utmost importance which, back in the spring, the US called the main issue in the way of a potential invasion, and came to the conclusion that China would consider Russia’s military experience in Ukraine and try to improve its own logistic situation.

Taiwan’s navy and air force are, of course, significantly outnumbered by China’s resources. However, in case Beijing fails to destroy the enemy forces by means of a single surprise attack (which would be a difficult thing to do given the intel support the Americans provide for Taiwan), Taiwan’s forces would be brought to combat readiness and would be likely to inflict serious losses on the first wave of Chinese assault ships. This is because, unlike in ground combat where troops can disperse to avoid an attack and then get together again to continue with the combat task at hand, it’s impossible to employ such tactics at sea.

Add to that the US military potentially coming into play – it is not a force to be easily dismissed.

Original Russian publication @vysokygovorit

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