Chinese Threat to Taiwan: A 6 Month Outlook


    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].

    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].

    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. He works in the private sector in field investigations and security.

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