A key part of China's Taiwan invasion would entail sending a "dark fleet" of spy ships disguised as cargo vessels or fishing boats to cut off the island nation's access to the Internet by severing underwater cables.
Analysts say the communist regime in Beijing has already carried out a test run as residents of the Taiwanese islands of Matsu well know.
The Internet cables which serve the islands situated just 10 miles from mainland China have been constant targets, having been cut more than 25 times in recent years.
"In order to achieve an effective blockade of Taiwan and to maximize psychological pressure to force an early surrender, the severing of undersea communication cables would be a very high priority for the early stages of a Chinese invasion," said Rick Fisher, an expert on China’s military from the International Assessment and Strategy Center and contributing editor to Geostrategy-Direct.com
A Chinese fishing boat and a cargo ship which witnesses saw lurking near Matsu were fingered as suspects.
"Any pre-war cutting of undersea communication cables to Taiwan's offshore islands would constitute practice for the People's Liberation Army," Fisher added. "There is considerable military value for China in cutting undersea communication cables from Taiwan's offshore islands near the coast of China, as they host valuable Taiwanese intelligence gathering sensors."
Cutting the Internet cables also serves as a warning for the rest of Taiwan.
"Turning them into starving hostages only serves to warn most of Taiwan's population that the Chinese Communist leadership will not hesitate to terrorize Taiwan and that its potential occupation will be horrific, forever," Fisher said.
Elisabeth Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise, said it’s highly unlikely the cables were cut by accident as the Matsu incident was the 27th time Taiwanese Internet cables have been severed.
"Every year around the world, cables are cut accidentally but around the Matsu Islands the cables are cut much more than the global average," Braw said. "If it was an accident then you think the Chinese ships would take more care but it keeps happening. It’s very provocative and designed to make Taiwan feel helpless."
Cutting Taiwan off from the outside world is seen as a key strategy to launch an invasion of the island nation which China considers part of its territory.
"If you think how wars begin, you start by cutting off communications,” Braw said. “It used to be destroying the television tower but these days it would be cutting off the Internet cables. That would cripple the functioning of modern society and give any attacker a free reign. It’s not just the government and hospitals that would cease to function but ordinary citizens and businesses would be cut off."
Braw predicts that China will increase its cable cutting in the coming years in a bid to bring Taiwan to heel without having to fire a shot:
“Every time (Taiwanese) President Tsai meets with Western leaders, China will respond in a provocative manner and not just through military activity, which is why the cables are so exposed. Taiwan could see a couple of internet cables cut and what can it do in response? Its warships wouldn’t be in a position to chase the Chinese away. China might just want a submissive Taiwan and it could get that by using these tactics."
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