Taiwan changes computerized war games to map-based simulation, shows ‘lack of confidence, self-deception'
Published: May 16, 2022 11:40 PM
People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they ride past the Taipei 101 building after the COVID-19 alert was raised to level 3 in Taipei, the island of Taiwan on May 15, 2021. Photo: VCG

People wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus as they ride past the Taipei 101 building after the COVID-19 alert was raised to level 3 in Taipei, the island of Taiwan on May 15, 2021. Photo: VCG

Taiwan authorities kicked off their annual Han Kuang military exercise on Monday. However, while attempting to attract attention with scenarios drawn from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the first phase of the war games, an "all-out defense" computer simulation, will surprisingly be changed this year into a map-based one, a less accurate and objective format without a final outcome, which experts said reflects a lack of confidence of the Taiwan military and is self-deceiving. 

The defense authority on the island of Taiwan described the map-based simulation as the biggest difference compared to the previous computer simulation, as it's more about face-to-face warfare tactics and establishing consensus on military operations and preparations. 

There will be no outcome in the results this year, Taiwan-based media reported, citing a military source. The source said as the gap of military strength between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan island grew bigger and bigger, the mainland almost won every time in previous computer simulations.  

In addition, military sources from Taiwan told local media that participants in the annual war games were few due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak, mainly high-level staff in charge of combat command duties. 

Taiwan's anti-epidemic authority announced 61,697 local COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total to 830,257. The recent tsunami-like COVID-19 outbreak on the island had caused a decline in the approval ratings of the ruling secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). 

Map-based simulation means that there are no parameter inputs, including terrain parameters, forces parameters, weapons and equipment parameters, Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday. 

"Without the input of these parameters, it is just a simulation of the basic state, with a great loss of accuracy and objectivity," Song noted. "The self-entertaining and self-deceiving simulation has no practical reference value."

Song said Taiwan authorities introduced the computer simulation system from the US to make more accurate calculations, and turning to map-simulation shows Taiwan's lack of confidence: the island knows it has no way to defeat the People's Liberation Army (PLA), so switching to a simulation format without exact results could do less damage to morale.

The simulation portion of the drills, which will be held until May 20, also includes scenarios drawn from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which means asymmetric warfare would be a pivotal subject, Taiwan-based media reported.  

Experts said that drawing scenarios from the Ukraine-Russia conflict means the island is preparing for street warfare, urban warfare, the use of a variety of shoulder-mounted individual air defense weapons, and cognition warfare in an "asymmetric warfare" like the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

The island's armed forces could also attempt to drag a reunification-by-force operation by the PLA to a protracted war and deplete the mainland through guerrilla warfare, the spread of fake information, and so-called sanctions from the West, like what happened during the Ukraine-Russia conflict, analysts said.

After the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, many US officials fabricated rumors that the Chinese mainland would seize the island of Taiwan by force at a time when the Russia-Ukraine situation drew global attention. 

Song said that given the huge power gap between the two militaries of the mainland and Taiwan, if the PLA were forced to settle the Taiwan question by force, it would  be like a thunderbolt: with greater equipment superiority to achieve a quick and decisive victory. 

The island of Taiwan is geographically different from Ukraine, and the power gap between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan is also greater than that between Russia and Ukraine, and the Taiwan question is China's internal affair, observers pointed out, noting that many elements are different that there is no comparison between the Taiwan question and the Ukraine crisis.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, said last month that the DPP authorities are "seeking secession through the military," which will only lead to their own destruction.  

Ma slammed the Taiwan authorities for "wantonly squandering money earned by the Taiwan people to buy weapons and create a cross-Straits confrontation," tying the 23 million Taiwan people to the secession chariot, and pushing the island into the disaster of war.  

The second phase of the Han Kuang exercise, live-fire drills, is expected to be held in July, the defense authority on the island of Taiwan said.