Unprecedented CCG-PLA joint operation around Taiwan 'clear intent to deter'
Published: May 23, 2024 11:38 AM Updated: May 23, 2024 01:32 PM
Photo: Courtesy of China Coast Guard

Photo: Courtesy of China Coast Guard

Photo: Courtesy of China Coast Guard

Photo: Courtesy of China Coast Guard

A coast guard fleet of East China's Fujian Province on Thursday conducted law-enforcement drills in the waters near Wuqiu and Dongyin islands, the China Coast Guard (CCG) confirmed on Thursday. Earlier on the same day, the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) started joint military drills surrounding the island of Taiwan from 7:45 in the morning. The PLA drills are being conducted in the Taiwan Straits, the north, south and east of Taiwan Island, as well as areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin.

The joint operation conducted by China's maritime law enforcement forces and various military branches of the PLA Eastern Theater Command in the Taiwan Straits undoubtedly hold historical significance, experts said.

A source close to the matter told the Global Times that during this operation, CCG vessels entered, for the first time, the so-called restricted waters of Wuqiu and Dongyin islands. This action demonstrated an upgrade in military-police cooperation, with a clear intent to deter "Taiwan independence" secessionists.

A map illustrating the location of this exercise released by the CCG on Thursday shows that the Fujian Coast Guard 14606 flotilla circled around Wuqiu, coming as close as 2.8 nautical miles to Dawuqiu and 3 nautical miles to Xiaowuqiu. Meanwhile, in the direction of Dongyin island, the Fujian Coast Guard 14607 flotilla came as close as 3.2 nautical miles to Dongyin island. The actions in both directions effectively shattered the Taiwan authorities' claim of the so-called restricted waters.

The source told the Global Times that the area the CCG chose for this exercise is highly significant. The released illustration is packed with information and carries a clear message of deterrence toward the Taiwan authorities.

"Wuqiu and Dongyin islands are outlying islands of the main island of Taiwan, with high strategic importance and high military value. They are close to the mainland and oversee key transportation routes in the Taiwan Straits. Taiwan's military views them as the front line in their defense operations and a crucial point for implementing 'multiple layers of deterrence.' During this island-encircling readiness patrol by the PLA, CCG vessels entered the so-called restricted waters of Wuqiu island and Dongyin island for the first time, with a clear intent to deter [the 'Taiwan independence' secessionists]," the source said.

Wuqiu island

Wuqiu island

Dongyin island

Dongyin island

The Fujian Coast Guard's maneuvers around Wuqiu and Dongyin islands has a clear flexibility, as shown in the exercise illustration released by the CCG. At Dongyin island, north of the Taiwan Straits, the Fujian Coast Guard 14607 flotilla moved from south to east and then to north, creating an "encircling" posture. 

At Wuqiu island, closer to the central Taiwan Straits, the Fujian Coast Guard 14606 flotilla advanced from north to east and then to south, showcasing the rich variety of CCG enforcement methods.

The source said that the CCG employed various entry methods in this operation. According to the illustration showing the CCG vessels entering and exiting the so-called restricted waters, it is evident that some entered from the north side of Wuqiu island, while others from the south side of Dongyin island. The entries were made from different angles and positions, reflecting a degree of flexibility while also leaving room for further maneuvering.

This balance of determination and flexibility is also evident in the illustration released by the CCG. 

Comparing the illustration with the previously released routine enforcement patrols by the Fujian Coast Guard near Kinmen, it is clear that the trajectory lines for this operation at Wuqiu and Dongyin islands are designed with an "arrowhead" shape, indicating a more aggressive posture. 

Additionally, the previous patrol trajectory near Kinmen was marked in red for warning, while the current operation's trajectory lines are highlighted in yellow, emphasizing caution toward Taiwan authorities.

"The CCG is clearly issuing a warning that if the situation further deteriorates, the 'Kinmen' model might be replicated in other areas of the Taiwan Straits," the source said. 

The source noted that if the Taiwan authorities remain obstinate, the mainland might replicate the Kinmen model, increasing punitive measures, including boarding and inspecting vessels from the island of Taiwan passing through Wuqiu and Dongyin islands, or entering the so-called prohibited waters, thereby completely shattering the Taiwan authorities' perception of so-called restricted waters around the outer islands.

This comprehensive enforcement exercise the CCG conducted on Taiwan's outlying islands coincides significantly with the joint training exercises executed by various military branches of the PLA Eastern Theater Command. 

The illustration of the Joint Sword-2024A exercise released by the Eastern Theater Command also marks a larger area around Wuqiu and Dongyin islands. The Eastern Theater Command said that this exercise involved joint sea-air readiness patrols, joint battlefield control exercises, and precise joint strikes on key targets, incorporating forces from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Rocket Force. 

Gan Yu, a spokesperson of the China Coast Guard, said the drill is aimed at testing the coast guard fleet's capabilities in joint maritime patrol and emergency response.

The source also noted that the upgrade in military-police coordination during this operation is a major highlight.

"The CCG's patrol around Wuqiu and Dongyin islands, along with their entry into the so-called restricted waters, was complemented by the Eastern Theater Command's main combat ships and aircraft circling outside to support the CCG vessels' enforcement patrols. This demonstrates sophisticated planning and efficient coordination. This collaboration not only reflects internal coordination within the PLA but also extends to an upgrade in the military-police cooperation," the source said.