China’s Military Exercises Near Taiwan: The Lowdown on an Uptick

Since August, the PLA has carried out exercises aimed at testing its alongshore air defenses.

The Diplomat
Date: October 20, 2020
By: Lu Li-shih

Yellow Sea exercise areas (Source: Lu Li-Shih)

On October 9 — one day before Double Tenth Day, the National Day of Taiwan — the Gulei Port Economic Development Zone Administrative Committee in Zhangzhou, China and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) jointly issued an announcement for a ban on navigation. The reason: Live-fire exercises would be conducted on the Chinese internal waters in the east part of Gulei Peninsula from October 13 to 17.

This is geographically the closest live-fire exercise to Taiwan since the Chinese Ministry of Defense announced on August 13 that it would demonstrate “Multi-units and multi-directional systematized actual combat drills” on the Taiwan Strait and both at the north and south ends.

However, PLA exercises in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and South China Sea have been much more frequent since July. It is generally believed that this is Chinese military swagger against Taiwan. It is much more probable, however, that the PLA exercises point to weaknesses in its military capability.

As to the Yellow Sea, an area roughly resembling an isosceles triangle with sides around 215 kilometers was first demarcated on the southern coast in mid-July, which is fit for HQ-22 (HongQi-22) and HQ-9B (HongQi-9B) long-range air defense missiles exercises. This was followed by six navigational warnings, beginning with LYG0043 issued for August 25-27 and ending with LYG0057 issued for September 28-30. Six rounds of live-fire drills were executed back-to-back at the same location on the west side of the port of Lianyungang. It is evaluated that such a cone littoral target region — around 12.5 kilometers long and 5.5 kilometers wide — is only for anti-aircraft artillery and short-range air defense missiles.    [FULL  STORY]

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