Updated Aug 8, 2023, 11:44am EDT
securityEast Asia

New Chinese documentary shows military’s readiness to attack Taiwan

CFOTO via Reuters

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The News

Chinese state media CCTV released an eight-part docuseries about the army’s preparations to invade Taiwan, in conjunction with the People Liberation Army’s 96th anniversary.

Chasing Dreams features military drills and testimonials from soldiers pledging to die in any attempt to take control over Taiwan, the self-governed island which Beijing claims as its own.

We’ve gathered reporting and insights on how the new documentary is part of a broader propagandistic effort to showcase Beijing’s military prowess.

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  • Much of what is shown in the docuseries has been attempted in real life. In one episode, the PLA conducts “Joint Sword” drills — exercises where precision strikes against Taiwan are simulated. The drills were activated after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited the U.S. in April, and were similar to missile strikes launched around Taiwan during then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last August. The Shandong, an aircraft carrier that has been spotted along the Taiwan Strait and used as an intimidation tactic, was also featured in the film. — The Associated Press
  • A recently-released Chinese film in the style of Top Gun was also seen as another way for China to boast its combat readiness. Born to Fly tracks PLA pilots fending off unidentified, English-speaking, American-accented enemies. It’s “not a good movie by any standard,” the Sydney-based Lowy Institute wrote. “However, it does possibly reveal how the Chinese government and military perceive their standing in international affairs.”
  • Chasing Dreams is intended not only to demonstrate China’s confidence in invading Taiwan but also to intimidate the U.S., according to military commentator Song Zhongping, who spoke with the South China Morning Post. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Chief Philip Davidson had previously predicted that the PLA would likely take control over Taiwan by 2027 — the year in which China aims to be a “world-class military.” However, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley expressed skepticism about that timeframe, saying that capturing an island as big and as combat-ready as Taiwan would be “extraordinarily complicated and costly.” — USNI News