The plane carrying Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi landed at Taipei Airport in Taiwan on August 2. Pelosi has been a vocal critic of China for decades, while ardently supporting Beijing’s opposition, including the Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama and Hong Kong pro-democracy activists. “Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan demonstrates America’s unwavering commitment to supporting a vibrant Taiwanese democracy. Our discussions with the leadership of Taiwan reaffirm our partner’s support and advance our common interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pelosi wrote after landing.
Meanwhile, the media reported that Chinese and American fighter jets headed towards the island. “Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan will flagrant interference in China’s internal affairsand will lead to very serious events and dire consequences,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said earlier. Pelosi’s Asian tour began on July 31. Officially, visits to Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea were announced in the trip program. Taiwan is on this list was not, but Pelosi’s plans to visit the island were reported by the US media.Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden, warned the US against “playing with fire” regarding Washington’s position on Taiwan.
Will the US protect Taiwan from China?
It is not clear to what extent Taiwan can count on US support in the event of Chinese aggression. For decades, Washington has confessed to Taiwan policy of “strategic ambiguity” maintaining friendly contacts with his government without official diplomatic relations or even recognizing him as a fully sovereign state. The White House sells weapons to Taipei, but does not officially commit itself to military intervention.
Nancy Pelosi speaks at commemorative events marking the 290th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square tragedy
Meanwhile, China counts the island, which bears the name of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for its own and is developing plans for its return. If necessary, by force.
Over the past decades, the Chinese Communist Party has actively developed its armed forces, known as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to observers. The PLA outnumbers Taiwanese troops and, according to some experts, is even more powerful than the forces that its supporters, such as the United States or Japan, can afford to bring into the region. But that doesn’t mean Taipei is completely helpless. before a possible attack by Beijing.
“Porcupine Strategy”: Make Invasion Costly for China
The potential risk of a Chinese invasion has hung over Taiwan for decades. Long enough for Taiwan to develop a sophisticated defense system befitting its geography. To deal with a giant power like China, Taiwan has adopted an asymmetric warfare known as a “porcupine strategy” that aims to make invasion very difficult and costly for the enemy, international observers say.
The authorities have amassed large stocks of anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-ship weapons and ammunition. This includes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), mobile coastal defense cruise missiles (CLCMs) capable of destroying high-value Chinese military vessels and naval systems.
Fast stealth ships and miniature missile attack boats are other relatively cheap but highly effective equipment. They may be dispersed among fishing boats in ports in Taiwan. Naval mines and fast minelayers can also complicate the amphibious operations of any fleet.
Multi-level naval defense
To take the island quickly, the Chinese PLA will need to transport a large number of soldiers and a huge amount of cargo across the strait – armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, food, medicine and fuel. This is possible only by sea, since the possibilities of air transportation are limited, experts say.
The territory of Taiwan includes a chain of islands, some of which are located near the Chinese coast. The monitoring systems installed on these islands can detect the fleet sailing off the coast of China. This should give Taiwanese forces enough time to coordinate a multi-layered defense, military analysts believe.
Naval mines combined with fast ships and missile attack boats, as well as land-based munitions placed on the coast and nearby islands, will strike the PLA at its most vulnerable moment before it has a chance to land and launch an operation.
Taiwan also prepared its cities for guerrilla warfare in case the PLA did manage to land. In urban combat, Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) and mobile systems such as High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) can be used, and buildings can be turned into fortifications.
According to a report released in 2017 by the RAND Foundation, Taiwan’s military reserve system has 2.5 million people plus another million civil defense volunteers. In total, this number is about 15% of Taiwan’s population, or one man in every four.
Protect the defense system
One of the main goals of Taiwan’s tactics is to protect the main defense systems, including aircraft and anti-missile installations, which can intercept ballistic missiles and inflict the main damage to the invading forces.
Over the past couple of years, Taiwan has acquired dozens of modern fighter jets from the United States, while simultaneously producing its own AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo fighter, nicknamed the local defense fighter. Many planes are on fortified bases, and pilots are trained to use the highway as a runway in the event of airport bombing.
In addition, while Washington may not intervene in the conflict, it has pledged to continue selling defense systems and intelligence support to Taiwan.
All of these measures will help Taiwan signal to China that if war breaks out, it will be long, costly, and bloody.
However, for a small power like Taiwan, the best scenario would be that the conflict never occurred.