China attempting to blockade Taiwan would be a mistake for Beijing, as US-led coalition forces would be able to circumvent it, a former US Department of Defense official said on Friday.
Former US Department of Defense senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia Tony Hu (胡振東) said in a media interview that the perception that China could cause Taiwan to collapse by blockading it for three weeks did not reflect reality.
“First, they can’t blockade Taiwan for three weeks,” Hu said in response to a question of how coalition forces would react if Chinese warships and planes surrounded Taiwan to prevent foreign military assistance.
If China conducted a blockade without firing weapons it would still be an act of war under international law and “coalition forces could conduct anti-blockade operations by escorting supplies into Taiwan,” he said.
It would also not make sense for Beijing to use the tactic if its goal is to take Taiwan, he said.
“China hopes to take Taiwan in a quick victory,” and “a blockade is not going to give them a quick victory,” Hu said.
“If China does a blockade, it would give coalition forces so much time to build up and to move forces forward that the chance of them ever winning a conflict with Taiwan would be nil,” he said.
Hu also said that the current lack of joint military exercises between Taiwan and the US is a “hindrance” for Taiwan in preparing for a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait.
He said he hoped that this would soon change, given provisions passed by the US Congress last year and in 2021 that called for Taiwan-US joint military training.
Even without joint exercises, Taiwan’s military is moving in the right direction by pursuing a joint C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) platform that is also used by the US military, which would improve the interoperability between the two forces and facilitate joint training, Hu said.
On countering China’s “gray zone” activities — an extension of the Chinese military short of outright military engagement that includes Chinese maritime militias harassing the Japan Coast Guard and chasing Philippine fishing boats away from their fishing grounds — he called for world governments to define who should be considered “combatants” and who should be considered “noncombatants,” a line that China has deliberately blurred.
For example, entities operating under the command of a semi-military organization such as the China Coast Guard should be classified as combatants and responded to accordingly, he said.
Chinese civilian hackers commissioned by Beijing to attack other countries’ financial systems or Internet infrastructure should be regarded and dealt with as combatants, he added.
The world needs to redefine the gray areas that China has been exploiting to gain an advantage over the rest of the world, including the information warfare that it is waging by planting disinformation in the media of other countries, he said.
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