China finalizes plan to invade Taiwan in 2020: researcher

'Chinese surprise attack would be worse than Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined'

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(Image from flickr user Ngo Quang Minh)

(Image from flickr user Ngo Quang Minh)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- According to a book published on Tuesday titled "The Chinese Invasion Threat" by Project 2049 think tank fellow Ian Easton, Beijing has finalized a secret plan to invade Taiwan by 2020, according to classified documents from the Chinese military obtained by the author, reported the Washington Free Beacon.   

In his 290-page book, the former National Chengchi University student reveals that the covert plan plotted by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) includes a massive missile assault on Taiwan, which would coincide with naval and air blockades, followed by the amphibious landings of 400,000 soldiers on Taiwan's shores, and would escalate to combat across the island (both urban and mountain warfare). 

"Z-Day" Plan

A major part of the plan would be a lighting fast timeline with the goal of penetrating three to five miles inland from landing zones within just three days of "Z-Day" (the date of invasion), thus preventing the United States from having enough time to intervene in a material way militarily.  The book uses the term "Z-Day" to describe the date that the amphibious assaults would begin across Taiwan, both on the main island, as well as Kinmen, Matsu, and Penghu. but this would be preceded by 1-15 days of attacks with ballistics missiles, rockets, bombers, and fighters to soften up defenses. 

Joint Island Attack Campaign

According to Easton, the invasion plan is referred to by the PLA as Joint Island Attack Campaign and would consist of three phases of operations, including blockade and bombing, amphibious landing, and combat on the island. The main objective of the first phase would be to attain complete control over Taiwan's airwaves, airspace, and seascapes through the use of electronic and cyber attacks to cripple missile defense systems to make way for China's arsenal of 1,000 ballistic missiles, as well as decisive victories against Taiwan's air force and navy.

The main objective of the second phase would be to capture beaches, ports, and airfields near Taipei and other selected cities. In this phase, amphibious forces would invade 14 beach sites in Kinmen, Matsu, Pengu, and Taiwan with the objective of capturing strategic points on all of these islands through two major waves of attack. 

The objective of the third phase would be to occupy the entirety of the main island of Taiwan itself and "impose will on the survivors." This would include missions to secure beachheads on Taiwan, construct landing zones to deploy large ground forces, capture strategic inland terrain and bases, capture Taipei and other large cities, impose martial law, and lastly, clear the remaining defenders from the mountains. The latter may be a monumental feat to achieve over the two-week timeline as there are 286 mountains in Taiwan. 

Planners in the PLA now believe that invasion of Taiwan is ultimate goal and solution to cross-strait tensions, "Only by military occupying The Island can we totally end the long military standoff across the Strait,”Easton quoted a PLA field manual as saying.

As frightening as a war with North Korea seems, an invasion of Taiwan by China could lead to a much bigger war given the size of both the conventional and nuclear weaponry at the disposal of both China and the US. "Of all the powder kegs out there, the potential for a war over Taiwan is by far the largest and most explosive," according to Easton.

Easton asserts that Pentagon officials fear that an invasion of Taiwan by Chinese forces would include missile attacks on nearby U.S. military bases because "China has made clear that its primary external objective is attaining the ability to apply overwhelming force against Taiwan during a conflict, and if necessary destroy American-led coalition forces." 

"No one seemed clear on exactly what might happen, but all were sure a future Chinese surprise attack would be worse than Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined," writes Easton. 

The same day that the book was published (Oct. 3), Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said Taiwan's armed forces are capable of holding out against a Chinese invasion for "more than two weeks," which was a more optimistic assessment than his predecessor Lee Tien-yu (李天羽), who said a decade ago that Taiwan's military could "hold on" for just two weeks, reported CNA

Though Taiwan's Presidential Office has declined to make a comment on the Easton's book, DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) described the author's claims "the research of an academic," saying that the timing of such an attack is not that straightforward, reported CNA. Lo said that though the PLA may believe it is ready militarily for such an attack, that does not equate with political willingness on the part of Beijing to green light such a plan on the same timeline.