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    Chinese Threat to Taiwan: A 6 Month Outlook

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    In the aftermath of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China began an unprecedented campaign of intimidation against Taiwan. China is conducting live-fire military drills off the Taiwanese coast and has launched dozens of ballistic missiles which landed close to the island [source]. Taiwan’s Foreign Minister has called the drills a game plan for a Chinese invasion [source]. China is resorting to hybrid warfare against Taiwan in the absence of an invasion [source]. 

    KJ-1: It is unlikely that China will mount an invasion of Taiwan in the next 6 months.

    • China is conducting several live-fire military drills within 6 zones off the Taiwanese coastline  [source]. 
    • At least 21 Chinese aircraft which flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, including several Su-30, J-16 and J-11 fighters. A single KA-228 anti-submarine warfare aircraft was also identified [source]. 
    • China launched several ballistic missiles which landed just off Taiwan’s territorial waters. At least one landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone  [source]. 
    • War-game scenarios indicate that Taiwan would successfully repel a Chinese invasion. However, these scenarios are not entirely consistent [source], [source].
    • The latest war games conducted by the US Air Force show that Taiwan and the US would need to rely on “drones acting as a sensing grid” as well as newer 6th generation fighters [source]. 
    • Moreover, Taiwan’s eastern shoreline is not advantageous to conduct amphibious landings. Chinese troops would be exposed to artillery and rocket fire during the crossing of the Taiwan Straits [source]. 
    • The USS Ronald Regan and the USS Tripoli strike groups are present in the Philippine Sea [source].
    • There are a number of first steps which would have to be taken prior to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, such as seizing minor outlying islands and imposing a blockade [source]. 
    • The US Department of Defense does not believe China will invade within the next 2 years [source].

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    KJ-2: It is highly likely that China will continue hybrid warfare operations against Taiwan and US-aligned countries in the next 6 months.

    • Taiwan says it fired flares at Chinese drones operating in Taiwanese airspace [source]. 
    • On May 18, China launched the first autonomous, stealth drone ship which could potentially carry hundreds of smaller drones. The Zhu Hai Yun could also carry submersible vehicles [source]. 
    • Belgium accused China of cyber-attacks against Belgian government institutions in July [source]. 
    • In 2021, several nations with maritime disputes with China were targeted with malware linked to groups sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party [source]. 
    • Norway has also accused China of cyber attacks against its security and intelligence agencies [source].  
    • The United States suspects that China was behind intrusions into pipeline infrastructure and other industrial systems [source]. 
    • Australia identified a Dongdiao Class intelligence ship, the Haiwangxing, sailing within Australia’s exclusive economic zone in May [source].
    • China initiated a campaign of disinformation against Taiwan [source]. 
    • Maj. Gen. Chen Yu-lin believes that China was attempting to create the impression that an invasion was imminent [source]. 
    • In order to bolster this impression, a false rumour circulated stating that Taiwan was shipping rare national treasures overseas for safety [source].
    • Images also circulated purporting to show Chinese troops amassed on the coastline. These images turned out to be North Korean military drills from 2017 [source].
    • Chinese hackers took over digital signs at government offices in Nantou and a railway station in Kaohsiung. The signs were made to read offensive slurs against Rep. Pelosi [source].
    • Digital signs at 7-11 stores across Taiwan were also hacked and made to read “Warmonger Pelosi, get out of Taiwan!” [source]. 

    KJ-3: It is highly likely that the United States and allied nations will increase defence cooperation with Taiwan in the next 6 months. 

    • US military personnel are training the Taiwanese ground forces as well as Taiwan’s F-16 pilots [source]. 
    • In 2021, Taiwan confirmed that US Special Operations forces, as well as US Marines, are present on the island [source].
    • The Biden Administration promises to defend Taiwan should China mount an invasion [source]. 
    • Japanese politicians and security officials are openly discussing security cooperation with Taiwan [source]. 
    • The US and Japan have reportedly drafted a joint plan of action for a military response to a Chinese invasion [source]. 
    • Australia, the US and the UK signed a new defence agreement last year for sharing defence technologies in response to China’s threat to the Indo-Pacific [source].
    • Japan and Australia are deepening security cooperation in response to a more aggressive China [source].
    • The Philippines announced it intends to conduct joint naval patrols in the South China Sea, reversing an earlier decision to scrap those plans [source]. 

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: August 13, 2022

    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith is a graduate of the MSC International Relations program of the University of Aberdeen and holds an LLB in Global Law from Tilburg University.

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