According to Taiwan News, in response to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) planning a mock invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month, the Taiwanese army decided to send at least 200 Marines to fortify the islands. 

According to the Taiwanese media, the satellite images seem to show Ccp amphibious armored vehicles and mobile missile launchers gathering near the South China Sea. At the same time, Taiwan has sent about 200 marines to its military post on the Pratas Islands. The Pratas Islands are controlled by Taiwan. However, the CCP also claims the islands and calls them the Dongsha Islands.

Although the CCP has so far not confirmed any kind of invasion, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense (MND) has been on alert since reports surfaced in May that the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) is planning a mock invasion of the islands, even warning that it could turn into a full-blown invasion.

NASA astronaut image of Pratas Islands (also called Dongsha Islands), in the South China Sea. (Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, of the NASA Johnson Space Center/Public Domain)

Taiwan News quoted Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party legislator Wang Ting-yu as saying that the marines have sent additional troops to help defend the Pratas Islands and that the armed forces are “prepared for the worst.” Wang said that if enemy forces capture the Pratas Islands, the army drew up a Border Protection Battle Plan in which the army’s airborne special operations forces would combine with the marines to mount a counterattack by sea and air from Taiwan’s Taiping Island.

Wang also said the brigade is a defense force trained by the U.S. military to defend against air landings and assaults based on “doing the most with the least.”

Although Taiwan sent marines to its attack posts in Pratas, Taiwanese military experts told the Morning Post that if the CCP were to commit to taking the islands by force, it would be difficult to defend the base since there are no natural barriers. It is also difficult for Taiwan to send reinforcements quickly because of its location.

The Pratas Islands, consist of one island, two coral reefs, and two banks. They are about 275 miles from the port city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan and just over 185 miles from mainland China.

The CCP and Taiwan have been at odds since the arrival of communism in 1949. The CCP has never ceased to view the island as a rogue province that must return to its control.

Taiwan, however, identifies itself as a democratic and sovereign nation, independent of the CCP. The United States became one of Taiwan’s main allies, always defending the position that the CCP should not use force against Taiwan, as long as Taiwan exercises prudence in managing its relations with the CCP.

“The U.S. used to condemn Taiwan if we posted the military on the Pratas and Taiping,” Wang said Tuesday, according to the Morning Post. “But this time there has been no objection over our posting marines there because they all want to contain China’s military expansion in the region.”