“Porcupine Strategy”: Taiwan prepares for Chinese invasion, learning from Ukraine's experience
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It is hardly possible to defeat the Chinese with ships and aircraft, so Taiwan is urged to use anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, artillery and drones.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is confident that a Chinese invasion could begin at any moment, so the island needs to prepare for such a development. She stated this in an interview with The Atlantic.
“There is a real threat, these are not just words,” she said.
In doing so, the president made it clear that the Taiwanese should not be intimidated and that Beijing should not underestimate their resolve.
“If the Chinese army wants to do something radical, Xi [Jinping, the head of China] must weigh the costs,” Inwen emphasized. “He must think twice.”
The publication notes that against the background of the threat of invasion, Taiwan increased the defense budget: in 2023, they intend to spend more than $19 billion on the needs of the army. However, it is difficult to compete with China, which spends more than $200 billion a year on the army.
Therefore, there are increasing calls to change Taiwan's defense priorities. Instead of building aircraft, tanks, submarines and ships, military experts called for a focus on so-called asymmetric means. These include anti-ship missiles, anti-aircraft missile systems, stockpiles of small arms and ammunition. The Ukrainian experience has shown that such weapons help to cope with a larger invader. Combined with large civilian reserves, this could make the price of an invasion too high for China. In global defense circles, this approach has been called the “porcupine strategy”.
Defeat the colossus
The reporters spoke to Admiral Lee Si-ming, who was Taiwan's Chief of General Staff from 2017 to 2019. He has long advocated a move to asymmetric capabilities, warning that the island is not fast enough to prepare for an invasion.
“You may not be able to stop the invasion, but you can prevent China from subjugating Taiwan,” said Hsi-ming. including vast mountains and few beaches suitable for amphibious operations.”
The admiral proposes to put on anti-ship missiles, anti-tank and small arms, portable anti-aircraft systems, drones and long-range artillery. They can wreak havoc on the enemy and disrupt the supply chains needed to sustain an occupation. Lee Hsi-ming also believes that Taiwan's civilian population should be organized into territorial defense forces so that any attempt at occupation will be met with the most widespread resistance.
He emphasizes that the benefits of this approach became apparent after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which turned into a disaster for the occupiers.
“The goal is to make China believe that if you want to invade Taiwan, you will suffer huge losses,” the admiral said. “And if you still invade Taiwan, you will not be able to to achieve success”.
This will require changes to Taiwan's defense doctrine that its allies already support. In September, the US sold $1.1 billion worth of weapons to the island, including a significant number of Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Sidewinder surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. But according to Lee, the pace needs to pick up.
“Taiwan needs a strategic paradigm shift,” he said.
On October 21, US Naval Operations Commander Admiral Michael Gilday said the US should be ready for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in 2022. He believes that such a probability is higher than previously thought.