To invade Taiwan, China would need to mobilize its fleet of civilian ferries, which are operated by state-owned companies, said retired Navy Capt. Thomas Shugart, a military innovation expert with the Center for a New American Security think tank in Washington, D.C.
Most of China’s civilian shipping is running normally right now, Shugart told Task & Purpose. While three ferries had been taken off their normal routes earlier this week, one or two of the ships now appear to be headed home.
China requires its commercial vessels to meet military standards, he said. Shugart estimated that these ships could transport between four and seven brigades of People’s Liberation Army troops and equipment across the Taiwan Strait per day. But it would take time to train Chinese civilian ferry crews for such an invasion.
While the People’s Liberation Army does not appear to be prepared to invade Taiwan, it is still possible that China wants to capture one of Taiwan’s offshore islands, such as Pratas Island in the South China Sea, Shugart said.
“I think they could potentially seize something like Pratas Island without engaging in mobilizations that would be visible at the open-source level,” Shugart said. “Like, for all we know, there’s enough LSDs [dock landing ships] they rounded up to go take something like Pratas Island – but not Taiwan proper.”
Read the full story and more from Task & Purpose.