Mainland Chinese magazine outlines how surprise attack on Taiwan could occur

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A Chinese magazine marked the ruling Communist Party’s centenary by publishing a detailed outline of a three-stage surprise attack which could pave the way for an assault landing on Taiwan.

An accompanying video was also posted on social media platform Weibo by the publication Naval and Merchant Ships, with the message “we must solemnly warn some people that the road of Taiwan independence only leads to a dead end”.

Beijing regards the self-ruled island as a renegade province, to be returned to mainland control, by force if necessary.

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The magazine did not go into possible counter-attacks or responses from other key players such as the US and Japan in its scenario.

According to the article, the first round would consist mainly of ballistic missile attacks aimed at destroying information gathering and decision-making assets including airports, early warning radar, anti-air missile bases, and command centres across the island.

Weapons used at this stage could include the DF-16 – a short-range ballistic missile which the magazine said the island’s missile shield system would find difficult to intercept – and ammunition dispensers, which would cause more damage per strike. “The attacks against Taiwan’s airports would continue until [Chinese] surface troops had accomplished an assault landing,” it said.

Naval ports could be attacked with air strikes by China’s H-6 bombers and J-16 fighter jets, the article said, adding that they should only be “temporarily suspended” rather than “completely destroyed” so the PLA could use them for a landing.

Timeline: Taiwan’s relations with mainland China under Tsai Ing-wen

The second stage of the magazine’s three-pronged strategy would be several rounds of intensive cruise missile attacks, such as the YJ-91 and CJ-10, launched from land, ships and submarines and targeting military bases, ammunition depots, communications infrastructure and key road junctions. The article suggested that PLA surface ships could then use drones to assess the damage.

Finally, the article said artillery strikes from surface ships and land-based rocket forces would remove any remaining obstacles for the PLA’s marine corps and amphibious landing troops.

This was the second time the publication has outlined a scenario for an attack on Taiwan. Last year it released a video detailing how an assault on the island’s defence systems could occur to coincide with the start of the independence-leaning president Tsai Ing-wen’s second term.

The latest video was posted on Thursday, the official date of the Communist Party’s centenary.

In his speech to mark the occasion, President Xi Jinping vowed to crush any attempt to get in the way of “complete reunification” of Taiwan with the mainland, describing it as an “historic mission and an unshakeable commitment” for the party. “It is also a shared aspiration for all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation,” he said.

Xi called on all Chinese people, including “compatriots” across the Taiwan Strait, to unite and “take resolute action to utterly defeat any attempt towards ‘Taiwan independence’, and work together to create a bright future for national rejuvenation”.

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said he expected “preparations [to achieve] reunification will speed up”, but said there was no indication of a political deadline to meet that goal.

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