China’s ‘gray zone’ tactics are used to pressure Taiwan
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China’s ‘gray zone’ tactics are used to pressure Taiwan

Taiwan announced on June 22 that it would send fighter jets to chase away Chinese H-6 bombers and J-10 fighters flying into the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) around the island.

China’s Ministry of National Defense has not commented on recent flights.

Taiwanese fighter (left) monitors Chinese bombers in February. Photo: SCMP.

In early June, a Chinese dredging ship also moved near Penghu Island in the Taiwan Strait to suck up sand, forcing the island government to send a ship to stop it.

Observers assess these moves as part of Beijing’s `gray zone` tactic to increase pressure on Taipei, causing the island’s defense system to overload and become tired without needing to do so.

The activities of Chinese ships near Penghu Island make Taipei especially worried, because this area is believed to be a potential gateway for mainland military forces to penetrate Taiwan.

`Will continuous dredging there create a large enough shelter for Chinese submarines to stage ambushes in the future?` asked Taiwanese parliamentarian Chen Po-wei in a session last month.

Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, professor of strategic studies and international relations at Tamkang University in Taipei, said fighter and bomber flights close to Taiwan bring a series of benefits to China.

The first is to create a `new normal state`, pushing the parties into a `fait accompli` situation and ignoring the tacit agreements between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait over the past decades, in which the forces of both sides

The flights were considered psychological warfare operations targeting the armed forces and people of Taiwan.

`China can build a hydrological database in the area between Taiwan and the Philippines, as well as between the East Sea and the Taiwan Strait,` expert Huang assessed.

China's 'gray zone' tactics are used to pressure Taiwan

Median line in the Taiwan Strait.

William Chung, a scholar at the Taiwan Institute for Defense and Security Research (INDSR), believes that Beijing will step up similar tactics in the future to pressure Taipei.

According to Chung, a similar strategy was applied by China in its announcement of holding a two-and-a-half-month exercise in Bohai Bay from May 14.

INDSR scholars Paul Huang and Hung Ming-te also warned China to strengthen armed fishing vessels to protect its interests while avoiding causing military conflicts with countries with maritime disputes.

Dozens of Chinese fishing boats on March 16 collided with a Taiwanese coast guard patrol boat.

`China’s maritime militia is increasingly harassing and attacking ships of countries in the region. Taiwan needs to take measures to deal with this threat,` Huang and Hung Ming-te’s report emphasized.

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