US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a delegation to visit Asia on July 29. Taiwan may be the expected destination of the delegation, making the CCP discontented. It is not clear whether Pelosi will visit Taiwan, but on July 30, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted live-fire drills in the waters off Fujian Province, which is just over 60 miles from Taiwan. At the same time, large numbers of amphibious tanks publicly appeared in areas far from the Taiwan Strait, where war could happen. The CCP’s moves have made netizens laugh, and some experts have indicated the true purpose of these events.
On July 30, the PLA conducted a live-fire military drill in the waters of Pingtan County, Fujian Province, just over 100 km from Taiwan. Fujian netizens filmed the incident. There is information that the CCP’s intention was to threaten Taiwan, and prevent Pelosi from visiting the island nation. However, according to some experts and netizens, the training seems to be a type of “empty vessels make the most noise,” and the regime is hatching a familiar plot.
Before dawn on July 30, the live-fire drill started. According to Sound Of Hope, netizens believe that the nighttime display was for the outside world to see, because very few people can see daytime firing drills and there may not be any recorded video.
Video posted on @ZhaoMingObserve‘s Twitter account shows the PLA firing a large number of flares from land sites. Some netizens also mocked that flares are mainly used in counterattacks. Is the CCP afraid of Taiwan’s “counterattack” on the mainland?
@ZhaoMingObserve mocked: “Pelosi visited Taiwan and the PLA conducted live-fire drills in Pingtan, Fujian. But I find it very difficult to understand. Did the PLA land in Taiwan to fight? Why are they firing flares at sea? Are they shooting locating bullets into the sky? This is the anti-landing operation! It turned out to be an anti-landing operation by the PLA to prevent Taiwan from landing in Fujian.”
Another video posted by Twitter user @HAOHONG_CFA shows the PLA firing artillery from the land, but it seems that only one cannon is firing, with no force at all. Netizens mocked that the CCP was just pretending.
According to reports, the CCP has repeatedly warned that should Pelosi come to Taiwan, the consequences would be severe. The U.S. Navy this week moved the aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group, docking in Singapore. As a precaution, the Pentagon said the Department of Defense sometimes redirects military power to areas where political leaders and senior officials are visiting.
But so far, the PLA has not organized a large-scale rally or mobilization in Fujian, which is closest to Taiwan. However, in Hangzhou and Shanghai, far from Taiwan, a large number of ships carrying military vehicles, including amphibious tanks, were sighted.
The video was posted by Twitter account @tw_Tomy7 and showed, on July 30, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, a ship carrying a large number of amphibious tanks and troops—destination unknown. @tw_Tomy7 questioned if they were towed to Fujian.
Some analysts have pointed out that this type of military mobilization could be general mobilizations, consolidations, or military exercises, as it is far from the Taiwan Strait, where the war could happen, Sound Of Hope said. However, a large number of military deployments have occurred at this critical juncture, and they appear to be a familiar plot by the Chinese regime, which diverts public attention from domestic turmoil.
According to satellite images published by U.S. military media “The War Zone” in October 2021, the PLA is upgrading the three air bases closest to Taiwan, including the construction of an munitions bunker and the expansion of airport runways and new aprons or parking areas for aircraft.
The PLA’s Longtian, Hui’an and Zhangzhou air bases in Fujian Province have been upgrading their internal equipment since the beginning of 2020. The distance from Taipei and Taiwan to the three bases are about 135 miles, 173 miles, and 248 miles respectively. According to estimates, the warcraft can reach Taipei in about 7 minutes at the earliest.
But according to Bloomberg, Indo-Pacific defense policy specialist Blake Herzinger pointed out that the PLA could step up sea and air patrols during Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, anything more severe is unlikely. He said, “If you believe that Beijing is planning an imminent-ish invasion of Taiwan, as some do, kicking off a war next week would be suicide for their plans.”
Martin Chorzempa, a senior research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, believes that the CCP intentionally exaggerates the Taiwan issue to divert attention from its domestic economic dilemma, but if the CCP commits to “strong actions that could trigger U.S. sanctions,” it would have a huge impact on China and the world economy.
The announcement of the live-fire exercise in Fujian also sparked discussion among netizens.
According to the notice from the Fujian Maritime Safety Administration on July 28, from 8 am to 9 pm on July 30, live-fire drills will be conducted in the waters at Pingtan, Fujian Province. The blockade of the Sea of China prevented any ships from entering.
In addition, many other people on mainland Weibo also reposted the announcement about the PLA stationing in Fujian, claiming that from 8 am to 9 pm on July 30, ships using the sea route from Nanhai town, Guangdong Province to Mengshan, Guangxi Province “are not allowed to set sail.”
According to the exercise’s scope, the PLA only conducted live fire in small coastal areas, however, since Pingtan in mainland China is the closest location to Hsinchu, Taiwan, so China established “Fuzhou Comprehensive Experimental Area in Pingtan District in 2009,” aiming to build Pingtan into a demonstration area to explore new models of cross-strait cooperation, so the news of the mentioned drill has sparked speculations from the outside world.