Tensions between Taiwan and China have been rising all year, as has been pointed out repeatedly here and in the mainstream press. But the visit of US House Speaker (and #3 in line to the Presidency) Nancy Pelosi to Taipei in early August has caused further increases.
Yet despite all the noise around that event, we would argue that nobody believes that the China/Taiwan issues will eventually coalesce into a real crisis. If we had told you in January that by mid-August you would have seen the following actions, you would have assumed the whole world was worried about the situation in Taiwan:
- A two week (and counting) sea blockade, all around Taiwan
- China saying blockades would be routine and ongoing
- A DDOS attack on the President and Defense Ministry
- Missile practice and invasion practice drills, all of which have been labeled “reunification practice operations”
- CCP leaders telling cities to prepare for a wartime economy
- China’s biggest ally, Russia, invading a US aligned country, Ukraine
- China threatening to shoot down the plane of Nancy Pelosi
- China claiming the Taiwan Strait
- Taiwan definitively rejecting a peace deal or one country two systems deal
- Taiwan Policy Act in the US Congress, being floated and called by the Chinese ‘effectively independence’
Strangely, complacency runs high. It seems like people think of China now as the new North Korea, a boy who cried wolf – they will never do anything major.
We think this is wrong. With what they see as limitless US provocation, the collapse of a chance of a diplomatic solution, and a good technical window of opportunity, the Chinese have decided to exert major pressure on Taiwan. Things have begun, will escalate in likely mid-September, and could see a full invasion by the end of October if it’s needed.
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There are three scenarios here, and we don’t know which it wil ultimately be, but we want to warn you that there will be a Taiwan crisis this upcoming fall:
- Major Chinese provocation to the Kinmen Islands (they are Taiwanese controlled, but only miles off the coast of China) and threats even larger than with Nancy Pelosi’s landing. Possibly could involve seizing these islands to ‘better control the Taiwan Strait’. It becomes a major diplomatic crisis until it gets sorted out.
- Seizing the Kinmen islands, but also a Chinese phase one attack that consists of a major blockade and cyber attacks, as they rehearsed in early August, but on a more sustained and larger scale. It could possibly be coupled with a no fly zone. This would result in an eventual negotiated solution favorable to China.
- All of the above, but culminating in a Chinese military invasion of Taiwan. Without large US intervention, Taiwan is toast.
The Red Line Has Been Crossed – Phase 1 is Underway
Chinese state propaganda paper Global Times published an article saying “Don’t say we didn’t warn you”, noting that China often used that phrase before going to war.
It’s not hard to see at this point that China basically is doing a test run of its broader strategy. For years, military analysts said that a Chinese move on Taiwan would take roughly 8 -20 weeks total and involve several phases:
Phase 1: Cyber attacks, civilian infrastructure, political pressure, and a blockade
Phase 2: A bigger naval blockade and diplomatic pressure
Phase 3: Blockade + Deploying air force to capture full coverage
Phase 4: Launching air and missile attacks on key targets, like Taiwanese missile bases and Taiwanese shore fortifications
Phase 5: A marine invasion or landing, which would take approximately one week to execute. This is the only part of these five phases where Taiwan is anywhere comparable to China in power- to stop all the others, it needs huge foreign support.
As of now, we are in the start of phase 1, according to all the evidence. It began roughly August 1st when Nancy Pelosi arrived. Or at least the testing of it, and the implementation of it to come by the end of August. They used DDOS attacks on the main leaders. They tested all sort of missiles in the Taiwan Strait and they tested all sorts of amphibious landings offshore. Military exercises are happening in multiple places. They have announced the West has crossed a red line and that any diplomatic solution is a failure.
The Chinese military recently trolled the Taiwanese, releasing drone footage of one of their drones monitoring troops in the Kinmen Islands. They are essentially toying with Taiwan at this point and reminding them they could take these islands at any time. This is likely where things would start, along side a naval blockade.
Phase 1: Cyber Attacks, Blockades, Missile Tests
China deploying new equipment to Fujian, across the Strait of Taiwan: https://twitter.com/IndoPac_Info/status/1554078271628750849
Chinese ballistic missiles can now hit targets all around Taiwan:
Even regime outlets like the New York Times are waking up to the fact that is a real possibility, publishing a story August 25th on the potential for a blockade:
The US Navy itself described the Chinese strategy succintly: If China can dishearten its adversaries or drive the price of entry into the Western Pacific so high Washington is unwilling to pay it, then China can win without crushing them in a major fleet engagement
Recent Political Developments
There have been three major developments in the past few weeks that further indicate a complete diplomatic break has occurred. First, China has claimed that the Taiwan Strait is Chinese and not international waters, and it can police who goes in and out. Obviously, no one else agrees with this.
Secondly, a bill is circulating through the US Congress called the Taiwan Policy Act, that most observers think would effectively declare Taiwan independent. China has spoken out :
Thirdly, Taiwan fully closed the door on a peace deal. It has fully rejected China’s one country, two systems white paper. Without any possibility of a diplomatic reunification, and the US trying to treat Taiwan as an independent nation, the PRC will think they have no choice but to act militarily.
Timing – a recently discovered potential clue
So when do we go from small scale operations and testing for the operation, which started roughly August 1st, to the big move, the start of a huge blockade and no fly zone and missile attacks? We think a key military alliance’s drills can give us a good clue.
China, Iran, and Russia have been friends for decades, out of necessity. In the past decade though they have begun to work closely. The Russians and Iranians have developed missile and drone technology, the Chinese have made vast investments in Iran and opened military basses, and the Russians and Chinese have a full strategic alliance. The USA warned China many times of the threat to Ukraine, and they did nothing. They are working close economically and lead the two main groups in Asia- the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS economic alliance. These groups are major alliances, with over two dozen nations participating, and have a set of strategic goals similar to NATO or the UN.
A recent Putin speech makes very clear their agenda:
This was recently highlighted in Vladimir Putin’s speech in St. Petersburg on June 17 at the International Economic Forum:
“A year and half ago, speaking at the Davos forum, I once again emphasized that the era of the unipolar world order is over…. despite all of the attempts to save it, to preserve it by any means possible. When they won the Cold War, the US declared themselves God’s own representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities — only interests. They seemingly have not noticed that new powerful centers have arisen and are getting louder and louder. (https://www.securefreesociety.org/research/monitor27/)
On January 21st of this year, they conducted joint operations in the Black Sea and in the Indian Ocean. One month later, Russia started steamrolling Ukraine. It’s probably not a coincidence, that the new round of operations are occurring this week, in Venezuela, with ten countries. This looks more like an information share or invasion planning routine at this point.
UPDATED January 21, 2022
- By Radio Free Europe
Iran, Russia, China Hold Joint Naval Drill Amid Growing Ties
Iran, Russia, and China are holding their third joint naval drill in the northern Indian Ocean, amid speculation that the three countries are teaming up in the face of growing regional tensions with the United States.
Russian vessels, together with the Chinese and Iranian navies, performed “joint tactical maneuvering and practiced artillery fire at a naval target as well as search-and-rescue missions at sea,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on January 21, adding that the sides also “practiced inspection and liberation of a ship that was supposedly captured by pirates.”……Russia on January 20 announced sweeping naval maneuvers in multiple areas involving the bulk of its naval potential — over 140 warships and more than 60 aircraft — to last through February.
The exercises will be in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the northeastern Atlantic, and the Pacific Ocean, in addition to the joint exercise with Iran in the Indian Ocean.
And the drills of mid-August:
Washington Free Beacon
Iran, Russia, China To Run War Drills in Latin America
Iran, Russia, and China are gearing up to run a series of major war drills in Latin America in a show of force meant to signal how these militaries can reach the United States.
Venezuela, under the leadership of anti-U.S. socialist president Nicolás Maduro, is scheduled to host the war games in mid-August, according to a report by the Center for a Secure Free Society, a think tank that tracks malign regimes. Along with 10 other nations, Russia, China, and Iran will move their militaries into the Western Hemisphere for war drills that will “preposition forward-deployed military assets in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Similar to how the Russians performed extensive drills in the weeks prior to invasion, the Chinese are also doing extensive drills (such as with Thailand, Russia, in the Taiwan Strait, and in the South China Sea). This is not a coincidence.
If we project forward, similar to the last time, as the invasion was almost exactly a month later, we get roughly a mid September starting point, likely with a major blockade. From there it would escalate. Military planning documents have always said that October and March are the two feasible for China to do an amphibious landing on Taiwan. The weather simply does not cooperate in other months due to tides, waves, and typhoons. So if China spends September putting air and sea assets in place, it has the option to make a full attack on Taiwan in October or perhaps early November. We don’t know that it ends up there, but a major crisis is about to erupt.