CMSI Notes are short, timely analyses of recent China maritime events.
Conor M. Kennedy
CMSI Perspectives and Key Take-Aways:
- In addition to RO-RO ferries, the PLA also uses another class of RO-RO ship, the deck cargo ship, in sea transport training exercises.
- Deck cargo ships are widely used in China’s ocean engineering and construction industry, constituting an existing and large-scale volume of lift capacity.
- The simple design and relative ease of construction of deck cargo ships means they can quickly be built in large numbers.
- These vessels may be tasked to bring in large columns of logistics and follow-on forces to consolidate landing areas, possibly in waves not far behind landing assault forces.
- Deck cargo ships can distribute the risk for many units making transits and force an adversary to find suitable kill solutions to strike numerous lower value targets.
CMSI Note #3: “Choose the Right Person, Choose the Right Path”: Taiwan’s Cross-Strait, National Security, and Defense Policies Under a Lai/Hsiao Administration
Julia M. Famularo
CMSI’s Perspectives and Key Takeaways:
- The incoming William Lai/Bi-khim Hsiao administration almost certainly intends to continue to execute and deepen President Tsai’s defense reforms. Lai has also stated his support for the implementation of an Indo-Pacific Strategy concept.
- Lai has an opportunity to leverage the national security experience of President Tsai’s outgoing advisors, who may potentially help his administration calibrate Taiwan’s responses to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military provocations in and around the Taiwan Strait.
- The Lai administration likely would prove receptive to U.S. and partner overtures that contribute to Taiwan’s ability to strengthen its maritime domain awareness and security; enhance maritime law enforcement and search and rescue capabilities; conduct maritime patrols; and improve information sharing.
- Lai intends to maintain the cross-Strait status quo, and has stated that he is willing to conduct dialogue with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the basis of mutual respect and equality.
- Lai almost certainly will seek to continue President Tsai Ing-wen’s policy of diversifying Taiwan’s economy and expanding sustainable trade partnerships with democratic nations. He has stated that overdependence on the PRC leaves Taiwan vulnerable to economic coercion, and thus opposes pursuing further economic agreements with China under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) or a potential Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement (CSTSA).
CMSI Note #2: Admiral Dong Jun Engages Friends and Foes: China’s First Naval Defense Minister Brings Joint Operational Experience
Andrew S. Erickson and Christopher Sharman
On 29 December 2023, Admiral Dong Jun (董军) was appointed China’s 14th Minister of National Defense (国防部部长) at the seventh meeting of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress. He replaced the previously deposed Army General Li Shangfu, ending a four-month leadership gap. Admiral Dong is the first PLA Navy (PLAN) officer to head China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND). Previously the 9th People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Commander, he was likewise exceptional in achieving this position from a background in theater joint operations.
Christopher Sharman and Andrew S. Erickson
China’s Navy, the world’s largest by number of ships, has a new leader. On 25 December 2023, Commander-in-Chief Xi Jinping, in his capacity as Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman, promoted Vice Admiral Hu Zhongming (胡中明) to Admiral and appointed him Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) (海军司令员). 2 Hu’s predecessor Admiral Dong Jun (董军) attended the promotion ceremony, suggesting this is an orderly and expected transition—unlike recent removals of the PLA Defense Minister and the former Commander of China’s Strategic Rocket Forces.