Military helicopters carrying large Taiwanese flags do flyby rehearsals in October 2021 amid escalating tensions between Taipei and Beijing. Photo: AFP / Ceng Shou Yi / NurPhoto

HONG KONG – Taiwan’s army would not be able to fend off massive attacks by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as it would not be offered help by allies, according to several articles recently published by Chinese state media.

Su Chi, a former secretary-general of Taiwan’s National Security Council and a Kuomintang politician, told a forum in Taipei on Monday that the first batch of PLA troops deployed to attack Taiwan would likely number around 28,000.

He said the island would not be able to defend itself as the United States army would fail to intervene before the war was over. His views were then widely quoted by Chinese state media.

Chinese state media also claimed Taiwan’s Army Command Headquarters had recently started promoting bayonet training as the island’s government now realizes that the US and Japan would not help it in a battle against the mainland. They urged Taiwan to reunify with the mainland peacefully.

In early October, military tensions in the Taiwan Strait intensified after about 150 Chinese fighter jets flew into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) ahead of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s speech in Taipei on October 10 to mark the 110th anniversary of the Republic of China.

On November 16, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden held a three-hour virtual meeting to discuss important issues related to US-China relations, including Taiwan.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photos: AFP / Mandel Ngan, Anthony Wallace

Biden said the US remained committed to the “one China” policy but strongly opposed unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Xi said Chinese unification was the common wish for all Chinese people, while mainland China would remain patient to achieve a peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

On December 1, former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said Japan would not accept a military invasion of Taiwan and warned Xi that he should not misjudge the regional situation.

Two days later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any move by China to invade Taiwan would have “terrible consequences.” He said he hoped Chinese leaders would think very carefully about “not precipitating a crisis” across the Taiwan Strait.

Later, Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criticized Blinken and Abe and said they were interfering in China’s internal affairs.

On Monday, Su Chi gave a speech at a forum called The new geopolitics between the United States, Taiwan and China, under the Biden administration, which was organized by Taiwan’s Global Views Monthly.

He said in the 25 years after mainland and Taiwanese leaders met and agreed to the “1992 Consensus,” Taiwan still had bargaining power in Cross-Strait relations due to its economic power.

In November 1992, semiofficial representatives of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) representing the mainland and the Republic of China (ROC) representing Taiwan met in Hong Kong. After the meeting, the PRC said both sides agreed that there was only one China and it included Taiwan.

The ROC said it only agreed to “one China, different interpretations.”

In 2000, Su renamed “one China, different interpretations” as “1992 Consensus,” which was later rejected by Lee Teng-hui, president of the ROC in 1992, as well as by current Taiwanese President Tsai.

An amphibious armored infantry fighting vehicle attached to the People’s Liberation Army. Photo: Supplied

Su said Monday that the mainland had been able to blockade Taiwan and paralyze the island’s electronic systems since 2018.

Last year he said the PLA had the ability to land on Taiwan and the first batch of 20,000 PLA troops would be sent by ships, while 8,000 would be deployed by helicopters or planes.

Su said Blinken and Abe had warned Beijing as they were anxious that the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait had shifted, with Beijing on the higher ground. He said the mainland could occupy Taiwan before 2024 and the US would not be able to intervene.

Jiang Yi-huah, a former president of the Executive Yuan and also a Kuomintang politician, said there was a 50% chance that a war would break out in the Taiwan Strait, but it would probably happen between 2024 and 2027. Jiang said it was unlikely the US would join land battles against the PLA on the island.

At the same event, Richard Bush, a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, said Beijing would order the PLA to attack Taiwan only if the island’s leaders moved to achieve “de jure independence.” Bush said when this happened, the US would intervene.

Citing comments of Su and Jiang, the People’s Daily said a war in the Taiwan Strait would end before the US would intervene. It added that even if the US army did arrive, it would be defeated by China.

Another article published by the China Review News Agency said the US had never promised to fight for Taiwan. It said the Tsai administration only wanted to boost its supporters’ morale by saying the island had military cooperation with the US.

Since 2020, the Kuomintang has been promoting the theory of “the first battle is the end,” which means Taiwan would be occupied by the PLA before US troops arrived.

Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said in October this year that it was impossible to realize this theory as the Taiwanese army would not stand still if under attack.

The Taiwan media reported last month that the island’s Army Command Headquarters had ordered its soldiers to strengthen bayonet training to increase the army’s combat ability.

Taiwanese airmen parachute into an airbase from a military transport plane. Photo: Handout

A commentary published by Chinese media last month said Taiwan started promoting bayonet training as it knew the US and Japan would not help in a fight against the PLA. It said the Taiwanese army would be destroyed by the PLA in urban warfare in Taiwan. The commentary was then republished by state media.

Prior to this, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said in its biennial military strategy report on November 9 that Beijing was conducting “cognitive warfare” to sway Taiwanese public opinion.

It said Beijing imposed “gray zone threats” on Taiwan by sending warplanes to the island’s southwest airspace, holding military drills near Pratas Island and also using propaganda to shake Taiwanese people’s faith and morale.

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