Just as the second person in line for the US Presidency touched down in Taiwan the other day, the Chinese state-run news agency, Xinhua, released a map showing six boxed zones where their nation will be conducting war games not far from the coast of the disputed island nation.

A Sand Table

A “sand table” of the current China/Taiwan situation. Image courtesy of The Telegraph. Crude “field expedient” embellishments by the author.

The blue line you see surrounding Taiwan marks its sovereign territorial waters. The red blocks are where the Chinese intend to conduct their live fire exercises. Marked on the shores of Taiwan, in yellow, is a shoreline suitable for landing large numbers of troops. It should be noted that not a lot of the coastline of Taiwan is suited for a large-scale assault. There are numerous areas where the water is too shallow or the coastline too rugged and rocky.

The dotted line you see running between the two nations is the “median line,” marking the halfway point between mainland China and Taiwan. Blue airplane icons denote Taiwanese air bases, those with a star are Taiwanese military bases, and those showing a ship are Taiwanese naval bases. Areas marked with a black icon are civilian airports and seaports. Off the western coast of Taiwan, we see Penghu County, a small island containing a Taiwanese military base, air base, and naval base.

On the red side, markers with a star denote Chinese military bases, and those with a ship icon are Chinese amphibious staging areas; prep areas for an invasion of the island nation.

Chinese Missiles

Meet the Dong Feng-15 (CSS-6) missiles. Image Credit: missiledefenseadvocacy.org

We’ll get the bad news out of the way first; according to FP (a foreign policy website), the entirety of Taiwan is within reach of China’s CSS-6, CSS-7, and CSS-11 short-range ballistic missiles. The Taiwan Strait (which separates mainland China from Taiwan, is only about 180 km wide). The range of the Dong Feng-15 is between 600 to 800 km.

Dong Feng launchers are mobile, and the projectiles are considered short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. They can fire conventional, High Explosive, or nuclear warheads with a yield of up to 350 kilotons. As a point of reference, the nuclear weapons we dropped on Hiroshima yielded 16 kilotons.


The Chinese Xian H-6 is called “Bejing’s Hammer.” Image Credit: flightglobal.com

The Chinese Xian H-6 bomber is capable but based on an old Soviet design. It is based on the Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine jet bomber that the Soviets delivered to China in 1958. The modern version, however, is capable of in-flight refueling and is armed with air-launched cruise missiles. The H-6K variant features a reinforced structure made of composite materials. According to Flight Global (FG), the newest variant, the H-6N, is capable of dropping nuclear munitions.

Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst, defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, tells FG: