Warning as Taiwan on high alert after China’s navy prowls the coast
China may be using the distraction of the Israel – Hamas war to increase its threat level towards Taiwan, an analyst has suggested.
Beijing sent its aircraft carrier Shandong through the Bashi Channel – a strategic gateway between Taiwan and the Philippines – in the latest in a string of provocative exercises.
By placing the aircraft carrier here during its exercise, China effectively blocked Taiwan off from the western Pacific Ocean, where help from its allies would likely come in the event of full-scale war.
Shandong, China’s first domestically built carrier, holds up to 44 aircraft and is armed with the Type 1130 defence system and HQ-10 missiles.
But this exercise also featured a new component that suggests China is openly planning for a confrontation with US forces, wrote George Allison, editor of the UK Defence Journal, for the Telegraph.
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The recent exercises involved not only the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) but the PLA Rocket Force (PLARF) – the unit which operates China’s land-based, long-ranging Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBMs).
This unit is equipped with several hi-tech missiles that could be fired from the mainland to sink ships out in the Pacific.
Mr Allison wrote: “The only difficulty is that the PLARF has to have a good idea where the ship is in order to aim the missile: that’s where the PLAN warships, and the Shandong’s carrier jets, come in.
“If they could locate a US carrier, the PLARF could sink it. China is actively refining its tactics to merge the strengths of its naval fleet with its ballistic missile arsenal.”
The exercises come as an expert warns the US may struggle to contend with supporting Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan simultaneously in the event of an invasion attempt by China.
Mark Cancian, a former Pentagon official and senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies said: “I think it would be Israel first, the Ukraine and Taiwan third.”
If the war in Gaza lasts too long, the US may find itself having to resupply Israel as it runs out of munitions.
Congress currently needs to fund military aid for Israel and Ukraine – already two new requests for $10 billion and $44 billion respectively.
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However, Serhii Plokhy, author of The Russo-Ukrainian War exclusively told Express.co.uk that the immense cost of the war in Ukraine may dissuade China from taking the risk of incurring the same in a war with Taiwan.
“First of all,” he said, “it is very clear that military operations like the one that Russia started against Ukraine can’t last forever and bring unpredictable results. It’s a very costly undertaking.”
China is also dependent on the US and Europe for its economy, making the potential financial hit of invading Taiwan and losing diplomatic relations even more damaging.
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