1201: China’s Four Military Options Against Taiwan; Netherlands Passes Two Pro-Taiwan Resolutions

Pentagon Report Identifies China’s Four Military Options Against Taiwan

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has identified four possible military courses of action that China could take against Taiwan, but did not offer any guess on when Beijing might be ready to act.

In an annual report to Congress released on November 29, titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2022,” the Pentagon provided a broad overview of China’s military capabilities, strategy, ambitions and intentions.

The report devoted significant space to the developments related to Taiwan, against which it said China has intensified diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure.

According to the report, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) now has a range of military courses of action it can take against Taiwan, which vary in feasibility and risk and can be divided into four general categories.

First, China could attempt to impose an “air and maritime blockade” to cut off Taiwan’s vital imports, possibly accompanied by missile attacks or the seizure of Taiwan’s outlying islands, in an effort to force its capitulation, the report said.

This would also likely be complemented by electronic warfare, network attacks and information operations “to further isolate Taiwan’s authorities and populace, and control the international narrative of the conflict,” it said.

Second, China could conduct “limited force or coercive operations.” In this scenario, the report said, the PRC would use “computer network or limited kinetic attacks” against political, military or economic infrastructure to induce fear and degrade the confidence of Taiwanese in their leaders. 

In such an operation, the PRC’s special operations forces could also “infiltrate Taiwan and conduct attacks against infrastructure or leadership targets,” it said.

Third, China might use an “air and missile campaign” involving precision strikes against key government and military targets to degrade Taiwan’s defenses, “neutralize” its leadership or undermine the public’s resolve to resist.

Fourth would be an actual “invasion of Taiwan.” The invasion approach China would most likely adopt would be a Joint Island Landing Campaign, the report said.

That concept envisions a complex, coordinated campaign to establish a beachhead, build up combat power on Taiwan’s western coast, and then seize key targets across the island nation.

While the PRC is continuing to build and rehearse these capabilities, a large-scale amphibious invasion is “one of the most complicated and difficult military operations” and would likely strain China’s armed forces and invite international intervention, the report said.

“Combined with inevitable force attrition, complexity of urban warfare, and potential insurgency, these factors make an amphibious invasion of Taiwan a significant political risk for [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, even assuming a successful landing and breakout.”

Nevertheless, the Pentagon believes that China is already capable of amphibious operations short of a full-scale invasion, such as an invasion of the small Taiwan-held Pratas Island (Dongsha Island) or Itu Aba (Taiping Island), or of medium-sized and better-defended islands like Kinmen or Matsu.

However, even this kind of limited operation would involve significant “and possibly prohibitive” political risks, because it could galvanize pro-independence sentiment in Taiwan and generate powerful international opposition, the report concluded.

The DoD report did not set out a timeline on when China might take such actions. It speculated, however, that the PRC’s goal of accelerating the integrated development of its military by 2027 could give China “a more credible military tool” to wield as it pursues an annexation of Taiwan.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202211300007
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/12/01/2003789899

Dutch House of Representatives Passes Two Pro-Taiwan Resolutions

On November 30, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the legislature of the Netherlands after the Dutch House of Representatives passed two pro-Taiwan resolutions.

A resolution urging Amsterdam to use all possible means to enhance ties between Taiwan and the Netherlands and the European Union (EU) passed the lower chamber of the Dutch Parliament with 129 yes votes and 21 no votes, the ministry said.

The resolution was jointly proposed by Dutch representatives Kees van der Staaij, who leads the Reformed Political Party, and Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the Democrats 66 Party, who visited Taiwan in early December.

Europe should learn from the lesson of the Russia-Ukraine war by standing in solidarity with democracies and checking aggression from authoritarian states, the MOFA quoted Sjoerdsma as saying.

Another resolution proposed by Dutch Representative Wybren van Haga, leader of the Belang van Nederland Party, which called on Amsterdam to extend support for Taiwan by all possible diplomatic means, passed with a 145-5 vote count.

Van Haga expressed concern over rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait, the ministry said.

Taiwan and the Netherlands are partners with strong bilateral ties, and share the values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law, it said.

Taiwan has been and will remain a responsible member of the international community willing to work with like-minded countries, including the Netherlands, to promote freedom, stability and sustainable prosperity, the MOFA added.

The Netherlands does not accept any continued escalation of regional tensions by China or further acts of hostility directed against Taiwan, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra told lawmakers last week.

The Dutch House of Representatives has become increasingly critical of Beijing and friendly toward Taipei as China ramped up pressure on Taiwan.

Last year, the House passed three resolutions that were supportive of Taiwan.

Last year’s resolutions urged the Dutch government to condemn any unilateral action taken by China to change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait, and back Taiwan’s bid to return to the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), in addition to calling on the EU to support Lithuania in its decision to pursue ties with Taiwan.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/12/01/2003789902