by DAVID AXE
Photos are circulating showing the Chinese military firing artillery and even tanks from the decks of commercial freighters. “At first glance these pictures appear confusing,” Stephen Miles notes. No kidding. Needless to say, cargo ships don’t make great platforms for tanks, and tanks don’t make great naval artillery. So why bother?
Miles, writing for China Defense, has two competing theories. The makeshift sea arty could “represent an emerging amphibious tactic” or “just more of the same ‘we will liberate Taiwan’ saber-rattling.”
Miles goes on to explain that the whole Chinese navy can currently carry only around 15,000 troops, far fewer than the 65,000 it would take to even gain a toehold against Taiwan’s beach defenses. That means pressing into service lots and lots of civilian cargo ships to help carry more troops. Those ships could need weapons to bolster the navy’s meager shore-bombardment capability.
If the strapped-on firepower really does represent a legitimate capability rather than a propaganda ploy, it could be a reflection of Beijing’s continuing desperation regarding the China-Taiwan military balance. China has a much bigger and, in many categories, more modern military than Taiwan, but Taiwan has one huge, nearly overwhelming advantage: It’s far easier to defend a beach than it is to capture one. No tank-freighter combo is going to change that.
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