A massive military exercise of potential importance to Taiwan will be staged in December on and around the Ryukyu Islands by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and ships from the US 7th Fleet.
According to a study just released by James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara, associate professors of strategy at the US Naval War College, the exercise is aimed at perfecting plans for recapturing the lightly protected islands should they be invaded by China.
“The sad fact is that these islands, which have hitherto been vacation destinations, are now becoming a major military and strategic feature of East Asia,” said Arthur Waldron, a former professor at the US Naval War College.
In an e-mail to colleagues, Waldron said: “The last island in this chain, Yonaguni, is only sixty miles [97km] from the east coast of Taiwan — which is visible, looming up far above the horizon, on a clear day.”
Waldron said the Japanese-held Ryukyu Islands could effectively block any Chinese attempt to attack the east coast of Taiwan from the north.
“In case of conflict, the actual Taiwan Strait itself is likely to be impassable, as each side will have the ability to destroy just about anything that moves,” he wrote.
“This would mean that the only attack direction is from the southeast, which means passing to the east, north of the Philippines, at the point where the strait is widest, before turning to the north and east to gain access to Taiwan’s strategic east coast — with its high stone cliffs and very deep water, good for submarines,” Waldron said.
“My own view is that if the defender had good anti-ship missile capabilities, which according to some reports Taiwan does, this would be a very risky operation,” he said.
In their joint study, Holmes and Yoshihara said the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been making efforts to break out of the first island chain and operate freely in the Western Pacific, “either to threaten the east coast of Taiwan or for some other purpose.”
They add that occupying one or more of the Ryukyus offers one way for the PLAN to do so.
“Once ensconced within the island chain, PLA forces could drive off allied navies, keeping Tokyo and Washington from slamming the nautical gateway shut,” the study said.
One possibility, it said, is that the Chinese might stage a narrowly focused attack on the Ryukyu Islands designed to open a corridor through the archipelago.
A prime candidate is Miyako Island, which abuts both Miyako and Ishigaki straits, it said.
Alternatively, the PLA could try to capture the entire Ryukyu chain from Japan in an effort to bar maritime Asia to US reinforcements while keeping forces already in the theater from entering the Taiwan Strait, the authors said.
PLA forces entrenched along the island chain could supply air and sea cover for PLAN vessels cruising off the east coast of Taiwan.
“Stealthy, missile-armed Type 022 Houbei-class catamarans stationed at the many small harbors in the Ryukyus could hold off allied forces while the PLAN fleet overcame the Taiwan Navy and pounded away at shore targets,” he said.
An obvious step, the study says, would be for Japan to fortify the islands themselves against attack, “sparing Japanese forces the hazards of retaking them from PLA occupiers.”
“Dug-in and armed with anti-ship and anti-air weaponry, Japanese troops could make the Ryukyus exceptionally hard targets to capture for PLA forces operating far from their bases,” it said.
The Ryukyu Islands include the Sakishimas, the Miyako Islands, the Yaeyama Islands and the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
A Taiwanese YouTuber suspected of creating and selling deepfake porn videos featuring more than 100 politicians and influencers was on Monday released on bail after being arrested the previous day. Chu Yu-chen (朱玉宸), 26, who uses the name Xiaoyu (小玉) on YouTube, was arrested on Sunday in New Taipei City, along with two suspected accomplices, a 24-year-old YouTuber surnamed Yeh (耶), known as Shaiw Shaiw (笑笑), and a 22-year-old man Chuang (莊). The three suspects were on Monday escorted to the New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for further questioning on suspicion of distributing obscene videos and publicly insulting others, in contravention of
FAMILY: While the CECC agrees ‘in principle’ to allowing entry to foreign spouses and children of foreigners in Taiwan with a residence permit, the issue is still being reviewed A nationwide level 2 COVID-19 alert is to be extended for two weeks until Nov. 1, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, adding that agencies are still discussing whether to allow foreign spouses and children of foreigners in Taiwan with a residence permit to enter the nation. “In principle we agree to relaxing the entry regulations for the group, but relevant agencies are still reviewing and discussing the matter,” said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The center on Sept. 13 eased border restrictions for foreign dependents of Taiwanese nationals. They can apply
ANTI-COERCION: EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU wishes to bolster relations with Taiwan within the framework of its ‘one China’ policy The EU is to further its engagement with Taiwan to defend democracy, freedom and an open market, while bolstering cooperation in semiconductor supply chains, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Tuesday. In her remarks at a European Parliament plenary session focused on Taiwan-EU relations, Vestager referred to China’s increasing military presence in the Taiwan Strait, including flying missions off the southwest coast of Taiwan. “This display of force may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity,” she said, adding that the EU encourages all parties to avoid any unilateral actions that might increase tensions across the Strait. “We Europeans
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) yesterday said he would leave the party and would not seek re-election, as he confirmed a report that he worked as an informant for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authoritarian regime when he was a student. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported on Saturday that Huang, 57, worked as an informant for the KMT when he was in college. Huang yesterday on Facebook said he accepts political responsibility for working with the authoritarian government to spy on his fellow students when he was in university and apologized to those affected