By Liu Xuanzun
The military on the island of Taiwan reportedly started on Friday a set of exercises off the coast where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the mainland have been frequently conducting drills and patrols since mid-September. While analysts on the island claim the exercises were designed to counter those of the PLA, many recent events indicate weaknesses of the Taiwan military and mainland experts say Taiwan drills shall yield no significant changes to the overwhelming advantage the PLA has over it.
The naval and air forces of Taiwan are holding exercises southwest off the coast of the island on Friday, with more similar drills scheduled for October 22 and 27, the Taipei-based newspaper the Liberty Times reported.
Citing experts on the island, the report said that the drills could feature warships capable of regional air defense, anti-submarine helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and submarines, with the aim of countering recent PLA operations in the region and showing the military on the island “has full monitoring capability” over the region. Taiwan’s exercises are a dangerous but futile attempt of resisting reunification by force, however, it will only further raise tensions in the Taiwan Straits without changing the power imbalance between the island and the mainland, a Beijing-based military analyst told the Global Times on Friday on the condition of anonymity.
Despite the Taiwan exercises, the PLA conducted a sortie to this particular air zone on Friday morning, according to a separate Liberty Times report on Friday. Taiwan’s exercises are also a “show” meant to cover up its military’s weaknesses and inabilities exposed over the past weeks amid drills by the PLA, the analyst said.
For example, a PLA KJ-500 early warning aircraft entered Taiwan’s self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Wednesday. Taiwan’s defense authority was able to detect it, but it used a file photo of the KJ-500, indicating the Taiwan military failed to take a new photo. Many other PLA activities spotted by Taiwan military observers via open source intelligence were also not released by Taiwan’s defense authority.
This shows Taiwan’s claim of having “full monitoring capability” is false, the analyst said.
As of Wednesday, the PLA has conducted 217 sorties in Taiwan’s southwest “ADIZ,” forcing Taiwan’s military to conduct 2,972 sorties that have cost NT$25.5 billion ($891.3 million,) Yen Teh-fa, head of Taiwan’s defense authority, was quoted by Taiwan’s Central News Agency as saying on that day. The PLA sorties are “wearing out” the military on the island, observers said.
On Thursday, an outdated M41A3 light tank of the Taiwan military crashed into a telegraph pole during an exercise, leading to the death of one crew member.
The PLA has overwhelming military advantages over the island in terms of combat readiness of the troops, the advanced level of technology for weapons and equipment, numbers, tactics and strategies, mainland experts said.
–The Daily Mail-Global Times news exchange item