With enough time having passed since the massive earthquake disaster in China to being to look at it analytically, a number of military experts are saying that the People’s Liberation Army response was, for the most part, enthusiastic but not very competent.
Mr. Blasko and other experts said that because the military did not have heavy-lift helicopters, vital equipment like excavators and cranes had to be brought in on roads obstructed by landslides, slowing the pace of the rescue operations.
Shen Dingli, a leading security expert at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the military’s response did not reflect well on the military’s preparedness for a potential war with, say, Taiwan, the independently governed island that China claims as its sovereign territory. China’s air force deployed 6,500 paratroopers to Sichuan, but only 15 ended up dropping into the disaster zone, military officials said, because of bad weather and forbidding mountain terrain. Mr. Shen called the effort too little and too late.
“The air force should have been able to get troops into Wenchuan in two hours,” he said, referring to a county near the quake’s epicenter. “It took 44 hours. If it took them 10 hours, that’s understandable. But 44 hours is shameful.”
I’m certainly no military expert, but if the Chinese air force achieved a nearly 100% failure rate on air drops in domestic territory with no enemy fire, and took 20 times as long as they should have to actually get their people in, I would think that Taiwan’s chances of fending off an attack might be a lot better than had been assumed over the past few years. I am actually rather surprised to read about how poorly equipped the PLA is, considering how much ink has been spilled recently on China’s rapid military investment. Is all of the money going into Navy, missiles, and attack aircraft or something? While the 1000 or so missiles pointed at Taiwan might cause some damage to the island, I would also imagine that a “lack of heavy-lift helicopters and transport aircraft” would make an actual invasion more than a little impractical.
With the unrealstic promise by the KMT to reinvade China long abandoned, Taiwan can be perfectly secure without the ability to send ground forces into China, as long as they have the ability to fend off air and sea attacks-particulary if their medium/long range missiles that could allegedly blow the Three Gorges Dam are as effective as they claim. But China isn’t worried about attacks from Taiwan-their military planning is largely aimed at preparing for an invasion of the island-and if they can’t even bring a few thousand rescue workers into a domestic disaster area faster than 44 hours, they would have very little hope indeed of delivering the numbers of troops needed to occupy Taiwan before US aircraft carriers arrived.