Chinese military expert says Kyodo misinterprets his words over Dongsha Islands drill

By Yang Sheng and Guo Yuandan Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/3 21:53:41

The guided-missile frigate Qujing (Hull 508) under the PLA Southern Theater Command fires its main gun against sea target during a maritime training exercise in waters of the South China Sea on July 11, 2020. Photos:

A Chinese professor said his words have been misinterpreted after Japanese media quoted his article and wrongly inferred that the Chinese mainland "is expected to carry out a large-scale landing drill" aimed at seizing the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea in August. 

Kyodo News reported on Monday that in a paper published in the August issue of the Hong Kong-based Bauhinia Magazine, Li Daguang, a prominent expert in military strategy at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), had "acknowledged" the drill will take place. 

"Although Kyodo News reported the plan in May, citing sources familiar with the matter, it was the first time that a person related to the Chinese military acknowledged it," said the Japanese media.

However, Li told the Global Times on Monday that he did not confirm any speculation about the drill in his article, saying that "I did mention a PLA drill aimed at seizing the Dongsha Islands in August, but this was citing the report by Kyodo News in May. It's absolutely not a confirmation of their speculation." 

The Dongsha Islands controlled by the Taiwan authority are located in the South China Sea, which is very close to Guangdong Province of the Chinese mainland but far from the island of Taiwan, and with no local residents. The Taiwan authority only sends a few troops of its naval forces to the islands for defense purposes.

A Beijing-based military expert who asked for anonymity told the Global Times that "seizing the islands is not a difficult mission at all. The PLA is capable of seizing them within one or two hours at the most, and with no casualties. But the move will bring significant impact to the South China Sea situation and the PLA will only take action when the mainland believes the move is necessary."

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times that the "Dongsha Islands' location is strategically important as it links the South China Sea and the West Pacific, and if the Taiwan authority lets US military forces deploy facilities in the islands, it would be a major threat to the PLA and the mainland's security."

Large-scale landing drills are becoming normalized for the PLA. The drills target islands, and as the Taiwan-controlled Dongsha, Taiping, Penghu, as well as Taiwan, are all islands, it is possible for the PLA to transform the drills into real combat operations anytime if the Taiwan authority crosses the bottom line, Song noted.


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