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2022.08.10 佩洛西的访问与其说是挑衅,不如说是借口

发表于 2022-8-12 04:03:14 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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By Invitation | Taiwan
China’s huge exercises around Taiwan were a rehearsal, not a signal, says Oriana Skylar Mastro
The military expert believes Nancy Pelosi’s visit was more pretext than provocation

Aug 10th 2022



In the afternoon of August 4th, the People’s Liberation Army (pla) kicked off the largest and most sophisticated military exercises it has ever conducted. Over the course of a week, the Chinese launched dozens of missiles and conducted drills near Taiwan with 100 aircraft, ten destroyers and support vessels. Submarines and aircraft-carriers also played a role. The display has made the third Taiwan Strait crisis, which occurred between 1995-96, when China conducted four rounds of tests over the course of several months, with barrages of no more than six missiles, look like child’s play.

Part of the rationale for the latest exercise was to signal Beijing’s anger over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Ms Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, was the highest-ranking American government official to visit the island since 1997. Back then Newt Gingrich, who was also the House speaker, made the trip. China warned that if Ms Pelosi added Taipei to her itinerary, there would be hell to pay.

The exercise is also a bit of a “coming-out party” for Beijing. In 1996 the third crisis ended when America sent two aircraft-carrier strike groups within 200 miles (322km) of Taiwan. America saw this as a great strategic success, and Chinese leaders were unhappy with its interference in what China considers a domestic affair. The resentment helped to drive China to build the pla into one of the greatest armed forces in the world.

Compared with 1996, China’s forces today are barely recognisable. Back then it had a large army, with roughly 4m people, but that was a sign of its backwardness more than anything else. With obsolete equipment and poor training, China barely had what could be considered an air force and a navy. Its pilots could not fly over water, at night or in rough weather. In 1999 less than 2% of its fighters were fourth generation, just 4% of its attack submarines were classed as modern (nuclear powered, for example) and none of its surface ships was. Its navy was a glorified coastguard with ships that, lacking air-defence systems, had to hug the coastline on any patrol. Its nuclear weapons, solid-fuelled and housed mainly in fixed silos, could have been taken out in one fell swoop by America.

Now China’s armed forces are comparable to America’s in quality and quantity. Most of its platforms are modern (of the latest technology for the relevant domain) and it boasts the largest navy in the world. In some areas Chinese military capabilities already surpass America’s—in shipbuilding, land-based conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, and integrated air-defence systems. China possesses the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world, one that is currently undergoing major modernisation.

But even with all these improvements it is unclear whether China could take Taiwan by force. China has not fought a war since 1979, when it made heavy weather of a “punitive” invasion of Vietnam. An amphibious attack, and to a lesser degree a blockade of the type the exercises off Taiwan were simulating, would demand complex joint operations (involving army, air force and navy), which in turn require impeccable logistics and command and control. Xi Jinping, China’s leader, launched a massive organisational reform to improve in these areas, and the pla undoubtedly has. But the war in Ukraine may have given him heightened anxiety, given that the Russians struggled precisely with logistics and command.

For this reason we should see the massive exercises off Taiwan less as a signal, and more as a rehearsal for combat. Mr Xi wants progress on the Taiwan issue, and domestically talk in the press is shifting from peaceful reunification to armed reunification. Chinese leaders knew the pla had to conduct a series of large, realistic exercises to identify issues and hone their capabilities. If China had done so out of the blue, instead of using Ms Pelosi’s visit as a pretext, international opprobrium would have been stronger.

China will seize the opportunity to practise as much as possible. It has announced already that this round of exercises will continue and that another round in the Bohai Gulf/Yellow Sea is next. And it won’t just be large-scale exercises. It is unlikely that Beijing will return to its previous level of operations. Instead China might attempt to normalise greater Chinese activity around Taiwan. That makes war more probable. Through a series of exercises the pla, and the party leadership, might gain confidence that China’s forces are ready to take Taiwan sooner than they would otherwise have thought.

Of course, this all depends on how the exercises and operations go. From the outside, this is hard to assess. The missiles landed where they should have in recent days, and there were no accidents. But we don’t know how much and how well different groups are communicating with each other. To prepare for joint operations, air-force units need to operate in close proximity and co-ordinate with ground troops and amphibious elements. The pla needs to practise providing supplies, such as prepositioned fuel stocks, and bringing munitions and medical supplies to forward locations such as Fujian, the province directly across the Taiwan Strait.

This is where the real trouble lies. If activities in the vicinity of Taiwan become more routine, not only does this heighten anxiety in Taipei (and probably other regional capitals as well) but it helps to disguise any preparations for a real military campaign. China needs an element of surprise to be able to take Taiwan before America has time to mobilise adequate forces in the region to defend the island. If China’s forces are simulating formations, blockades, attacks and amphibious landings, it will be harder to decipher when they are preparing for the real thing. Ms Pelosi’s visit has allowed Beijing to move to a new level of military activity unchallenged, which will make it harder for America to defend Taiwan. No signal of America’s commitment to the island can fix that. ■

Oriana Skylar Mastro is a fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and a non-resident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think-tank.

应邀参加 | 台湾




这次演习对北京来说也有点像 "出场派对"。1996年,当美国将两个航空母舰攻击群派到距离台湾200英里(322公里)的范围内时,第三次危机结束了。美国认为这是一个巨大的战略成功,而中国领导人对美国干涉中国认为是国内事务的行为感到不满。这种怨恨有助于推动中国将匾额建设成世界上最伟大的武装部队之一。



但是,即使有了所有这些改进,也不清楚中国是否能够通过武力夺取台湾。自1979年以来,中国没有打过仗,当时它对越南的 "惩罚性 "入侵造成了严重影响。两栖攻击,以及在较小程度上模拟台湾附近演习的那种封锁,将需要复杂的联合行动(涉及陆军、空军和海军),这反过来又需要无可挑剔的后勤和指挥与控制。中国领导人习近平发起了一场大规模的组织改革,以改善这些领域的情况,而中国无疑已经做到了。但乌克兰的战争可能让他更加焦虑,因为俄罗斯人正是在后勤和指挥方面挣扎。





Oriana Skylar Mastro是斯坦福大学弗里曼-斯波格利国际研究所的研究员,也是智囊团美国企业研究所的非常驻高级研究员。
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