China preparing 'armada of ferries' to invade Taiwan - decapitation strike could take 'less than an hour'

China carries out military drills

China is assembling an armada of ferries to invade Taiwan which could be over in 'less than an hour', an expert has warned

Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 28/05/2024

- 15:07

Updated: 01/06/2024

- 15:57

Two days of military drills in the waters around Taiwan were carried out on Thursday

China is assembling an armada of ferries to invade Taiwan as one expert claimed a decapitation strike of top government facilities could be made in "less than an hour" of an initial attack.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could use civilian vessels, including roll-on, roll-off ferries to carry armoured vehicles.

Author and think-tank founder, Dmitri Alperovitch suggested the invasion could be over before the US have a chance to respond.

On Thursday, Beijing launched two days of military drills in the waters around Taiwan.

Screen in Beijing

Screen shows news footage of a map of military drills around Taiwan conducted by the Eastern Theatre Command of the PLA, in Beijing


Geopolitics expert, Alperovitch said many people expect the invasion to be a "Normandy-type of beach landing" however the "terrain" in the area would "not allow it".

"They're still going to move amphibious assault ships across the strait, each of them can carry around 800 troops," he told NBC.

"And more importantly dozens of troop transport helicopters, as well as gunships to do an airborne assault they can reach the airports in 10 to 15 minutes."

Civilian ferries "would normally be poor choices for such a mission", however, they could be used to transport huge numbers of troops across the Taiwan strait after its coastal defences are destroyed.


"Amphibious landings under fire are among the most difficult of military manoeuvres," said Ray Powell, the director of SeaLight, a Stanford University project focused on grey zone activities in the South China Sea, told The Telegraph.

Earlier this week, a furious inauguration address in Taipei by Lai Ching-te saw China carrying out drills in what it said was a "strong punishment" for "separatist acts".

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "We urge China to exercise self-restraint and stop undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and beyond."

China considers democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and has set out to bring the island under its control.

Anti-landing barricades are pictured on a beach in Kinmen Island as tensions rise between China and Taiwan


Tom Shugart, an analyst at the Center for a New American Security think tank said he believes that China’s civilian vessels could transport about 300,000 troops and their vehicles across the Taiwan strait in about 10 days.

In 2022, he wrote: "Both the Taiwanese and American intelligence communities should start watching China’s key civilian shipping in the same way they watch its naval vessels."

China's navy already has the world’s biggest surface fleet.

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