Taiwan remains vigilant amid concerns of Chinese civilian vessel threat: Expert

May 29, 2024

Taipei [Taiwan], May 30 : Amid escalating concerns raised by foreign experts regarding China's purported preparations for a potential invasion of Taiwan using civilian vessels, a Taiwan defence expert has affirmed the nation's readiness to counter such threats, Focus Taiwan reported.
In a report dated May 26 by the Daily Telegraph, experts cautioned that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) could use a fleet of civilian vessels, including large roll-on, roll-off ferries, to augment its amphibious landing capabilities, potentially facilitating the movement of significant military assets across the Taiwan Strait.
Tom Shugart, an analyst at the Center for a New American Security, highlighted the strategic implications of China's civilian vessels, suggesting they could significantly bolster the PLA's capacity to transport troops and equipment, potentially enabling the swift deployment of up to 300,000 troops within a span of 10 days, according to Focus Taiwan.
Echoing these concerns, Chieh Chung, a researcher at the Taipei-based Association of Strategic Foresight, acknowledged the PLA's lack of dedicated military vessels for troop transportation and its reliance on civilian vessels, particularly in recent military exercises.
Chieh noted the substantial transport capacity of each 36,000-ton roll-on, roll-off vessel, capable of accommodating the troops of multiple PLA combined arms battalions. However, he emphasised that these civilian vessels are not specifically designed for military use and would require docking facilities for efficient loading and unloading.
In the event of a potential invasion, Chieh suggested that the initial wave of PLA troops would likely rely on military landing ships, helicopters, and transport aircraft to establish a foothold in Taiwan. Only after securing landing zones would civilian vessels be use for further troop deployment.
However, Chieh remained confident in Taiwan's ability to counter such threats, citing existing defence mechanisms such as long-range anti-ship missile systems, naval mines, and suicide speedboats. These defensive measures, he argued, would effectively neutralise the relatively slow-moving civilian transport ships.
In response to inquiries by the media outlet, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) affirmed its vigilance in monitoring Chinese activities near Taiwan's airspace and sea, including military-civilian coordinated operations. The MND reiterated its commitment to gathering intelligence on PLA capabilities and underscored its preparedness to address potential threats posed by unconventional landing and transportation tactics.
As tensions continue to escalate in the region, Taiwan remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity against potential threats, utilising a combination of strategic foresight and robust defence capabilities, Focus Taiwan reported.