Suddenly, Xi presents two monster hovercraft – the largest in the world

China’s naval force has again provoked the democratically governed Taiwan with exercises lasting for days. Beijing’s ruler Xi Jinping wants to use the maneuvers to prepare his navy for an invasion of the island. Though the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan, Xi claims the country is a “breakaway province” of the People’s Republic that must be “reunited” with the motherland by force if necessary.

To achieve that goal, the Chinese army would need to land on the rocky shores of Taiwan, a feat that is by no means as easy as it sounds. Some military experts say this operation would be as complex as the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944.

New hovercraft signal Beijing’s readiness to attack

Xi Jinping has therefore upgraded massively in recent years, and his navy is now the largest in the world – with around 400 operational warships of various sizes. The United States of America, Taiwan’s most important partner, “only” has around 350 vehicles.

Two new hovercrafts, which were now part of the maneuver, show how concentrated Xi is in building up his naval force. China already has two of these gigantic hovercraft that could land three main battle tanks or around 500 soldiers on the coast of Taiwan. Explosive: military experts assume that China built the vehicles itself. That speaks for extraordinary know-how.

Without hovercrafts, the conquest of Taiwan could hardly not happen. Although China still has a small number, the presence of the two largest hovercrafts in the world at 57 meters is intended to send a clear signal to Beijing’s opponents that preparations are still being made for the attack.

On Taiwan itself, people have become accustomed to the constant violations of airspace and maritime boundaries in the Taiwan Strait. A little more than half of the world’s freight traffic runs through this pass. Xi wants to take over this part of the sea so he can pressure and blackmail the rest of the world.

The Strait of Taiwan is still international waters. To underline this, the USA, France and Germany, among others, repeatedly send their ships through these waters. Beijing then fumes, repeating its false claim that the open sea lane is national waters.

Xi Jinping declared “reunification” with Taiwan as the most important goal

Ruler Xi, who has made “reunification” with Taiwan his top political goal, must be careful in his strategic considerations to avoid being drawn directly into a war with the United States. Contrary to what was shown in a simulation this spring, Beijing may therefore not destroy the island with bombardments, but with naval blockades.

Beijing has been practicing such blockades since August of last year. At that time, the nomenklatura in Beijing used the visit of US politician Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan as an excuse to block access to the island’s most important ports for four days.

With Taiwan only having a fortnight’s energy reserves, a scenario in which Taiwan is forced to surrender to a naval blockade without a shot being fired would be Beijing’s favourite. Because it is not said that the people in China would support a costly war in which families could lose their only child.

China tried to impose a no-fly zone in February after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met with politician Kevin McCarty in the US, but countermeasures from Japan, South Korea and the US failed. The message was clear that any attempt by Beijing to control airspace would end badly.

Xi’s message is: I’m serious

The China-provoked near-collision with a US warship in early June this year didn’t draw half as much excitement. A hint for China to continue with its sea strategy. Beijing has announced that it will continue to ramp up its military spending. More hovercrafts will certainly be purchased in the coming years so that they can actually land on Taiwan in the event of an attack. Until then, Xi’s message is: I’m serious.

Jean Harris

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