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China's gray-zone warfare against Taiwan at highest possible level: Analyst

Shu Hsiao-huang says gray-zone tactics may not cause war but could be preparations for conflict

A recent study surveyed public perceptions of both Chinese and U.S. presence in Taiwan's ADIZ. (MND photos) 

A recent study surveyed public perceptions of both Chinese and U.S. presence in Taiwan's ADIZ. (MND photos) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌), a scholar at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), said on Thursday (Feb. 25) that China’s gray-zone warfare tactics toward Taiwan have reached the highest level.

The National Policy Foundation held a symposium titled "The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) military threat to Taiwan" Thursday morning. In addition to Shu, Former Defense Minister Yang Nien-tsu (楊念祖), retired Lieutenant General Shuai Hua-min (帥化民), military expert Chi Le-I (亓樂義), former Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), and others also attended the meeting, CNA reported.

The INDSR has warned that gray-zone warfare, which refers to the nontraditional use of force that does not pass the threshold of actual war, is a new national security challenge.

The aggressor makes it difficult for the defending nation to decide whether to answer with its military or police force, thereby prolonging the time it takes to make respond. However, whether it be a delay in decision-making or misjudgment, both work to the enemy’s advantage.

Shu pointed out that gray-zone warfare can be divided into three levels: low, medium, and high. He said that the "high" level includes nuclear posturing, military threats, large-scale clandestine operations that “create fait accompli situations,” the use of special forces to deny mobilization of the target country’s military, and support of large-scale proxy wars.

According to Shu, the CCP’s actions have reached this highest level of gray-zone warfare. Although gray-zone tactics may not necessarily cause a war, they may be strategic preparations for a conflict.

During peacetime, the CCP may use gray-area strategies to create a favorable political and economic situation for itself. This could include using the internet or media to spread fake news and rumors to increase political pressure on targets, Shu explained.

Yang pointed out that he has studied China’s People’s Liberation Army for many years but feels that the international community has never attached enough importance to its activities in the Taiwan Strait. However, in the past month or two, Europe, the U.S., and Japan have become extremely concerned about China’s military and paramilitary actions taking place around the Taiwan Strait.

Regarding a gray-zone conflict, Yang pointed out that the CCP’s political, military, and psychological war of attrition against Taiwan is wearing down Taipei’s defense capabilities and destroying Taiwanese morale. He said China’s actions are causing tremendous pressure and proving to be a challenge to Taiwan’s national security.