China is terrorising Taiwan by cutting internet cables in a “dry run” ahead of a possible invasion, experts said. Spy ships disguised as cargo vessels or fishing boats have reportedly carried out attacks.
People on the Taiwanese island of Matsu had internet cables linking them to the mainland cut, according to reports.
A Chinese fishing boat and cargo ship spotted in the area were suspected of cutting the cables.
An investigation in 2021 found evidence China’s state-owned fleet of fishing vessels may be a front for intelligence operations.
Beijing’s spy vessels, which have been disguised as fishing boats or cargo ships, are known as the country’s “dark fleet”.
Rick Fisher, an expert on the Chinese military at the International Assessment and Strategy Centre, said severing undersea cables would be a “high priority” in a blockade of Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
He told The Sun: “In order to achieve an effective blockade of Taiwan and to maximize psychological pressure to force an early surrender, the severing of undersea communication cables would be a very high priority for the early stages of a Chinese invasion.”
Elisabeth Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise, told the same publication: “If you think how wars begin, you start by cutting off communications.
“It used to be destroying the television tower, but these days it would be cutting off the internet cables.
“That would cripple the functioning of modern society and give any attacker a free reign.”
She added that cutting the cables “was almost certainly” a dry run for what China would do to Taiwan.
China’s ruling Communist Party insists Taiwan, which split from the mainland in 1949 during a civil war, must be reunited with China, by force if necessary.
Beijing sanctioned a United States congressman on Thursday in retaliation over his visit to Taiwan.
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China said Michael McCaul violated the “One China” principle, which says Beijing has sovereignty over the island.
It came after China retaliated for US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s meeting on April 5 with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Mr McCaul visited Taiwan from April 6 to 8 to discuss weapons deals with the island.
The Republican chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has been pushing for a hard-line stance against Beijing and closer ties with Taipei.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, said China is upping the ante as it prepares for war.
He told CNN: “Look at the military exercises and also their rhetoric – they seem to be trying to get ready to launch a war against Taiwan.
“The Taiwanese government looks at the Chinese military threat as something that cannot be accepted and we condemn it.”
China staged three days of large-scale air and sea exercises on Monday in response to Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with Mr McCarthy.
Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Chinese cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a news conference: “The People’s Liberation Army recently organised and conducted a series of counter-measures in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding waters, which is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation of Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces.
“It is a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
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