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Most analysts looking at the Chinese military threat to Taiwan conclude that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is incapable of invading the island because it lacks the landing ships to transport adequate quantities of troops and equipment across the Taiwan Strait. This report challenges that conventional wisdom, arguing that the PLA intends to meet these requirements by requisitioning civilian vessels operated by members of China’s maritime militia (海上民兵). Since the early 2000s, the Chinese government and military have taken steps to strengthen the national defense mobilization system to ensure the military has ample quantities of trained militia forces to support a cross-strait invasion. Despite ongoing challenges—including poor data management, inconsistent training quality, and gaps in the regulatory system—and uncertainties associated with foreign-flagged Chinese ships, this concept of operations could prove good enough to enable a large-scale amphibious assault.
China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S Naval War College
Newport, Rhode Island
China, China Maritime Studies Institute, CMSI, People’s Liberation Army, PLA, Island, Invasion, Amphibious, Militia
Henley, Lonnie D., "China Maritime Report No. 21: Civilian Shipping and Maritime Militia: The Logistics Backbone of a Taiwan Invasion" (2022). CMSI China Maritime Reports. 21.