Revealed: China's plot to blockade Taiwan : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Story Link

Revealed: China's plot to blockade Taiwan
By DAVID LAGUE, Defence Correspondent

China is planning to blockade Taiwan's key port about September this year, according to secret United States intelligence forecasts shared with Australia.

Australian intelligence sources have told the Herald that the threat to the port of Kaohsiung, which carries 66 per cent of the island's trade, was aimed at forcing Taiwan to open early talks on reunification with the mainland.

It is understood the US is taking the blockade preparations seriously as fears mount in Beijing that Taiwan is drifting steadily towards independence despite mainland threats of war.

"The Americans seem to think it is possible or even likely," one senior Australian Government official said.

Some analysts have played down the prospect of conflict across the Taiwan Strait on the grounds that it would harm all sides but a number of senior Australian Government intelligence analysts have said the danger of conflict is increasing.

The mainland regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has warned it will use force if it delays talks on re-unification indefinitely. The election of a key figure in the Taiwanese independence movement, Mr Chen Shui-bian, as the island's President in March has increased pressure on Beijing to bring Taipei to heel.

China's Communist Party leadership has made the recovery of Taiwan a national priority since the return of Hong Kong and Macau.

The frustration for Beijing is that while it strives to build up the military muscle to dominate the island, Taiwan becomes more democratic and enhances its international stature and legitimacy.

It would be almost impossible for the US and its allies, including Australia, to abandon Taiwan to its fate if it came under mainland attack. However, it is possible that a trade blockade could be mounted without an overt military threat to Taiwan.

A Pentagon study on the military balance across the Taiwan Strait last year warned that despite improvements in Taiwan's anti-submarine forces, China would "retain the capability to interdict Taiwan's sea lanes of communications and blockade the island's principal maritime ports".

Kaohsiung is the third biggest container port in the world, according to 1998 shipping figures. Last year, more than 18,000 ships were loaded with about 300 million tonnes of cargo at the port on Taiwan's south-west coast, facing the mainland.

It is understood US intelligence analysts believe it could be relatively easily blockaded because there are only two narrow channels deep enough for ships to enter and leave the harbour. China's submarines could ensure cargo ships were denied these channels or even sink a ship in the main approach to Kaohsiung used by the biggest vessels.

Even a threat to blockade could be enough to send insurance premiums soaring and deter some shipping lines - a serious blow to a manufacturing economy heavily dependent on international trade.

Intelligence sources say Beijing could attempt to justify a blockade on the grounds that almost every major international government acknowledges its claim over Taiwan.


The world will be busy watching the Olympics during this's no secret!

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (, May 16, 2000


What a great time for a major crisis that might necessitate suspending elections for a while. Isn't this about the same time that Janet Reno is slated to take control of all FEMA and law-enforcement in time of crisis? Something is starting to smell...

-- Klicker (, May 16, 2000.


This is, by far, the most logical scenario for China to cause trouble in Taiwan. The Chinese have a sufficient number of subs to enforce the blockade and the Taiwanese Navy is very weak in antisubmarine warfare. If this happened, it would almost surely draw the US Navy into the conflict since we are the only ones with the antisubmarine technology to break the blockade. This means having to sink a number of Chinese subs. Who knows where things go from there?

Looks like the Olympics might not be the only excitement in September if these reports are correct.

-- Jim Cooke (, May 16, 2000.

Can you blockade a harbor with subs? I'd think a freighter could roll right over one if they really wanted to, especially if they *didn't know it was there*. Now SINKING a freighter is something a sub could do easily, but the sub would definitely be the aggressor then.

Personally, I'd say if China goes for Taiwan, they'll do it in a big way.


-- Someone (, May 17, 2000.

JJ is it really you?

p.s. china starts massive wargames next sat.

-- boo (, May 17, 2000.

Yes, boo, it's really me. I don't think all possibility of war with Taiwan is impossible, only the one's that aren't militarily feasible. This possibility has more going for it than the other theories - low risk to China's military, a good possibility of at least temporary success, and the chance to make the US look like the bad guys by sinking Chinese subs.

Frank, the subs won't sit at the surface waiting for surface ships to roll over them. They only have to lay several miles offshore from Kaohsiung and sink ships as they run the slot into the harbor. They wouldn't even have to really block the harbor entrance. All they have to do is sink enough ships to make insurance so prohibitive that ships refuse to go to Kaohsiung.

Now, boo, there is one flaw in this whole theory. In order for this to work, the Chinese just can't sink any ship coming to Kaohsiung. There are Russian, Vietnamese, and Thai ships that call there regularly, not mention most of the major European powers. The Chinese would have to declare a blockade of certain goods and then have some way to determine what ships were carrying those goods. This requires surface forces. The Taiwanese Navy isn't good with antisubmarine warfare but they are experts at surface warfare and have the ships and missiles capable of knocking out any Chinese surface ships.

The whole thing is a lot more complicated than it first appears.

-- Jim Cooke (, May 17, 2000.

I see what your saying, but i dont see tiawan attacking the chinease navy even if there is a blockade.That unless they get washingtons help. We also may impose sanctions agaist china for selling missles to pakistan. this will be decided in the next month. This could chill US-China relations to a new low. The reason i think the could be war is i think china thinks if they are ever gonna do it they need to do it in the next 2-3 years. Not wanting to risk a less friendly administration (such as the current one), they may attack sooner. Before our current admistration retires.I am not saying the chinease or right about this administration qas i think we would react. Dont forget that every war has someone at the disadvantage and it has stopped the war.

-- boo (, May 17, 2000.


That was kind of my point. The Chinese could SINK ships easily enough, but that is a clear act of aggression. Much different than parking a couple of oil tankers to block sea lanes.


-- Someone (, May 17, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ