September 18, 2011:
Taiwan’s military leaders are openly discussing a wide variety of military moves China might make towards Taiwan. This is to prepare the people, government and business leaders for some, until now, unexpected, tactics.
One of the scariest tactics is the partial blockade. This would block access to Taiwan’s main ports for a short time, and then depart. This would cause shipping costs (especially insurance) to rise, and some customers would seek other suppliers. Thus Taiwan firms would lose sales, and the population would become demoralized.
Another attack is to use a few ballistic missiles to hit military targets on Taiwan, in response to some real or faked grievance. Again, Taiwan would be reluctant to respond, because China has so much more military power. The U.S. has promised to stop a Chinese invasion, but the help available for these harassment tactics is less certain.
China still has the option to try for an invasion. This would have to be a quick affair, to take advantage of the absence of U.S. naval and air forces (which would take a few days to arrive.) China recently revealed that it had added paramilitary police battalions from the PAP (People’s Armed Police) to proposed invasion forces. These police would deal with any civilian resistance on Taiwan. The PAP has a reputation for being very rough with unruly civilians. This indicates that China expects some resistance from the civilian population, and is ready to put it down quickly, with as much brutality as is required.
For decades, Taiwan has been preparing for a large scale amphibious invasion. But China is operating from their ancient playbook (think of Sun Tzu), which calls for doing what your opponent won’t expect. And Taiwan is now trying to prepare for that as well.