China facing Taiwan invasion headache as beach assault to leave troops ‘really vulnerable’

Taiwan: Retired Air-Vice Marshal discusses tensions

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Retired Air-Vice Marshal Sean Bell has warned Beijing that in the event tensions between Taiwan and China boil over into war, the Chinese military’s invasion force would not have an easy time against the defenders of the island. China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control.

Mr Bell told Sky News: “Drom a purely military perspective, this is a David against the Goliath of China, China has a standing army of 2 million.

“Taiwan has a standing army of less than 10 percent that size, China has 2400 modern, fast jet aircraft, next-generation oozing technology. Taiwan has about 450 and they are very old aeroplanes, and China has the biggest Navy in the world, so that would dominate the whole region.

“So how would Taiwan manage its security, we will look to friends, it will look to allies and that’s why it’s cultivated a friendship with the US over the years.

“The challenge though, really is would the US come to its aid? Should anything happen and of course, as is happening with Russia invading Ukraine, NATO has been very clear not to get directly involved.

“So China will have assessed that so from a military perspective, looks quite bleak. The one positive is that Taiwan is an island and therefore any assault would have to be an amphibious assault.”

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He added: “You want your clock back to the Second World War, Operation overlord when we had to liberate France we only had a gap of 20 miles, not 100 miles, and any invasion force will be really, really vulnerable.

“So it’s a difficult equation from a military perspective.”

It comes as Ms Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after touting its democracy and pledging American solidarity during her brief visit, adding that Chinese anger cannot stop world leaders from travelling to the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.

China demonstrated its outrage over the highest-level US visit to the island in 25 years with a burst of military activity in surrounding waters, summoning the US ambassador in Beijing and halting several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

China's invasion of Taiwan a 'much tougher task' than Hong Kong

Some of China’s planned military exercises were to take place within Taiwan’s 12 nautical mile sea and air territory, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry, an unprecedented move that a senior defence official described to reporters as “amounting to a sea and air blockade of Taiwan”.

Taiwan scrambled jets on Wednesday to warn away 27 Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone, the island’s defence ministry said, adding that 22 of them crossed the median line separating the island from China.

Pelosi arrived with a congressional delegation on her unannounced but closely watched visit late on Tuesday, defying China’s repeated warnings, in a trip that she said demonstrated unwavering U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s democracy.

“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, who Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence – a red line for China.

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“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that’s the message we are bringing here today,” Pelosi said during her roughly 19-hour visit.

A long-time China critic, especially on human rights, Pelosi met with a former Tiananmen activist, a Hong Kong bookseller who had been detained by China and a Taiwanese activist recently released by China.

The last US House speaker to go to Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997. Pelosi’s visit comes amid sharply deteriorating Sino-U.S. relations.

During the past quarter century, China has become a far more powerful economic, military and geopolitical force.

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