The Chinese Military Is Practicing to Invade Taiwan With Ferries

June 16, 2015 Updated: June 16, 2015

If China ever invades Taiwan, they may be moving their troops to the sovereign island using ferries.

At least that’s what they’re practicing to do. The Chinese regime’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held several military exercises between late May and early July in what intelligence company IHS Jane’s says is a simulated invasion of Taiwan.

The PLA’s is lacking in the area of naval transport, and according to IHS Jane’s, it has “co-funded construction of a large number of ferries used by civilian companies.”

According to IHS Jane’s, the project has been underway for some time. In early 2014, one of their sources in an unnamed Asian government said that by combining its military and civilian transports, the PLA could move 12 divisions (120,000 to 240,000 troops) to Taiwan.

The ferries are already being used for military transport. In late May, a 20,000-ton civilian ferry was assigned to the transportation department of the PLA Air Force. According to IHS Jane’s, it was used to transport personnel and trucks from the Bohai Sea to the South China Sea.

The PLA’s recent military exercises coincided with Tsai Ing Wen, leader of Taiwan’s anti-unification Democratic Progressive Party, visiting the United States between May 29 and June 3. Wen could win Taiwan’s presidential race in 2016.

The military exercises weren’t limited to ferries carting troops around, however. According to IHS Jane’s, the exercises involved combined land, air, and naval assets—including a Type 052B destroyer, a Type 054A frigate, and a Type 904 underway replenishment ship. The exercises also marked the first time the PLA Air Force deployed its H-6K bomber to the region.

In one image released by Chinese media, IHS Jane’s points out, a PLA officer is shown giving a briefing, and behind him is a “digitally barely concealed map of Taiwan.”

Follow Joshua on Twitter: @JoshJPhilipp