When China decides to move to Taiwan, it is unlikely that it will do so in a way that makes the US decision on intervention unequivocal. Should China decide, at least initially, against a full-scale invasion of that island nation, it may instead choose to try to “win without fighting.” Beijing can do this by using its large, state-controlled fishing fleet to cut off smaller Taipei-controlled islands from Taiwan itself, just as China is now gathering fishing boats to expand Chinese-controlled seas to claim the Japanese Senkakus and Whitsun Reef in the Philippines. water. Chinese state-owned fishing companies – part of the so-called “Maritime Militia” – serve as fronts for PLA intelligence. Using its fleets to operate in a way somewhere between peace and conflict in the gray zone of disputed control around Taiwan would allow Beijing to test whether the United States and its allies are willing to help defend the island’s independence without being seen initiating open conflict.
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