The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased warship activity near Taiwan, shattering the previous high for the number of ships sent to the area for maneuvers.
Analysts said on Sunday that the recent rigorous drills likely included preparation for amphibious landings and showed the PLA’s capacity to encircle the island.
In a news statement on Saturday, the defense administration on the island of Taiwan said that on Friday, it had seen 15 PLA planes and 16 PLA boats in the area.
It’s important to note that the 16 PLA vessel actions were the most in recent memory, according to Saturday reports in the island’s media.
The record number was reached after the PLA scaled up its daily drills and patrols around the island of Taiwan over the previous week, sending nine vessels on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all of which were supported by extensive aerial operations involving fighters, bombers, special mission aircraft, and drones.
Comparatively, there are often four PLA boats operating in the area of the island every day. According to news announcements from the island’s defense authorities, even during the PLA’s significant military drills in August 2013 and April 2014, this number did not exceed 14.
The PLA’s increased warship activities around the island are probably intended to demonstrate its capabilities in blocking the island, and may have included forces from both the Eastern Theater Command and the Southern Theater Command, according to media on the island. This comes amid recent events such as the US House of Representatives passing the National Defense Authorization Act 2024, the release of the NATO summit communiqué, and joint exercises by the US, UK, Australia, and Japan.
However, Japan’s Defense Ministry reported in late June that it observed a PLA flotilla at the time as the warships sailed from the East China Sea to the West Pacific. The flotilla included the Type 075 amphibious assault ship Guangxi, the Type 052D destroyer Baotou, the Type 054A frigate Anyang, and the Type 903A comprehensive replenishment ship Chaohu.
According to Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military analyst, the amphibious force commanded by the Type 075 may take part in a drill in seas to the east of the island of Taiwan if there are no indications that the vessels have returned.
Another Chinese mainland expert who asked to remain anonymous explained that it makes sense to practice amphibious landings after training for precision strikes, air combat, and sea combat because it makes sense to begin an amphibious landing mission after establishing air superiority and control of the sea.