China will pay a “heavy price” if it invades Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen warned on Tuesday. Her message to Beijing — which considers Taiwan part of China — coincided with the anniversary of Taipei repelling Chinese attacks on the Taiwan-controlled islands of Kinmen and Matsu in 1958. More than six decades after the battle, fears of a potential new Chinese attack on Taiwan have grown after China conducted military drills off Taiwan in recent weeks, including live-fire drills.
“The Chinese Navy is actually the largest navy in the world at the moment.
“But that counts for every little patrol boat, the kind of thing you see in Portsmouth harbor or in the Solent, to make sure no refugee boats arrive.
“Well, it’s pretty disingenuous about the numbers.”
According to the US Department of Defense, China’s navy consists of a total of 355 front-line ships, which are grouped into three fleets along the coasts.
In June, Beijing unveiled its third aircraft carrier, the most advanced PLA ship of its kind to date.
The 80,000-ton ‘Fujian’ features cutting-edge technology such as an electromagnetic catapult-assisted launch system.
But despite China’s naval advances in some areas, many of its ships are small ships compared to the average size of boats in the US Navy, which counts 305 front-line ships.
dr Callahan, a former diplomat and US State Department spokesman, explained that if the UK were to go it alone against China, the sheer size of the PLA Navy would overwhelm British forces.
However, he emphasized that the Royal Navy, which has a total of 73 commissioned ships, is superior to its Chinese equivalent in terms of capabilities.
He said: “The UK doesn’t really fit into this equation because the UK armed forces are so small.
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“But I have no doubt that if the Royal Navy were not overwhelmed they could beat the Chinese in terms of training and performance, no question.”
The expert added: “The British armed forces are very competent.
“In a sector where they control contract terms, they would outperform the Chinese. There is no question.
“The problem would be keeping the terms of this engagement small.”
dr Callahan has been closely following developments in Taiwan and has noted how close the situation is to war with China.
He explained that although Beijing has threatened Taiwan with military exercises, it remains unclear how Chinese forces would behave in a real conflict.
He said: “It’s hard to say how strong they really are for a number of reasons.
“One is that they haven’t fought a real war since the 1970s and Vietnam kicked their ass in that war.”