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FILE PHOTO: A Chinese coastguard ship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese coastguard ship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo/File Photo

China Steps Up Grey-Zone Warfare to Exhaust Taiwan, Report Says

Reuters
Total Views: 1305
March 7, 2024
Reuters

By Yimou Lee

TAIPEI, March 7 (Reuters) – China has stepped up grey-zone warfare against Taiwan, aiming to make the areas around the democratic island “saturated” with balloons, drones and civilian boats, a Taiwan defense ministry report said on Thursday.

Taiwan, whose government rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, has complained in recent years that China has been using so-called grey-zone warfare, which wields irregular tactics to exhaust a foe without resorting to open combat.

In a report sent to parliament, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, the ministry said Beijing has launched “multi-front saturated grey-zone” tactics to harass Taiwan, including increased patrols of ships and planes.

China has attempted to “increase burdens of our naval and air forces and to obscure the existence of the median line in the strait,” the report said, referring to an unofficial border between the two sides, which China’s forces have began regularly crossing in recent years.

It added China has also incorporated research and militia vessels in a move to “disguise military activities with civilians.”

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

To counter the Chinese threats, the ministry said it was working on measures to “preserve” its troops in the event of a war by boosting the resilience of its infrastructure and running drills to ensure Taiwan forces survive in a prolonged conflict. It also said it was drawing lessons from the war in Ukraine and the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

The ministry said it is stockpiling weapons and fuel to endure a prolonged war with China.

In a conflict, China will try to speedily seize Taiwan and prevent external intervention, the ministry added. To complicate that, the island is working to diversify its command systems and incorporate more mobile and long-range weapons, as well as artificial intelligence, while boosting “connections” with democratic allies, including the United States. The report did not elaborate on what those steps entailed.

China said this week it would boost its defense spending by 7.2% this year, fueling a military budget that has more than doubled under President Xi Jinping’s 11 years in office as Beijing hardens its stance on Taiwan. 

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of parliament, Taiwan Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng said Taipei would not join an arms race with Beijing because it was an “indisputable fact” that China’s military is more powerful than Taiwan’s.

“The only thing we can do is to boost every aspect of our training,” he said.

Taiwan Defense Ministry this week said it would this year increase the number of missile drills and begin night-time exercises for pilots.

Beijing last month begun regular coast guard patrols around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands, which hug the Chinese coast, after two Chinese fishermen died trying to flee Taiwan’s coast guard. 

(Reporting By Yimou Lee. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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