When the PRC decides to move to Taiwan, it is unlikely to move in a way that makes a US decision on intervention clear. If China decides, at least initially, to oppose a full-scale invasion of this island nation, it might instead choose to try to “win without a fight.” Beijing could do this by using its large state-controlled fishing fleet to cut off the small islands controlled by Taipei from Taiwan itself, just as the PRC is now assembling fishing boats to expand the seas controlled by China in order to assert claims on the Japanese Senkakus and Whitsun reefs. in Philippine waters. Chinese state-owned fishing companies – part of the so-called “maritime militia” – serve as a front for PLA intelligence. Using their fleets to operate in some way somewhere between peace and conflict in the disputed gray area of control around Taiwan would allow Beijing to test whether the United States and its allies are ready to help defend the independence of Taiwan. the island without being perceived as an open conflict.
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