As the threat of a Communist Chinese invasion of the independent democratic island nation of Taiwan grows daily, a new report identifies nearly 3,500 potential targets in Taiwan for Chinese strikes.
These potential targets included 183 tied to Taiwan’s military, 341 related to transportation, 550 related to information and communications technology (ICT) and a full 2,397 linked to the government.
The report, published this week, was conducted by senior research fellows with the George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. The researchers used an open-source database tied to alleged cybersecurity attacks by China against Taiwan.
As Newsweek reports:
It analyzes some 294,100 Taiwan-based points of interest found by the research group New Kite Data Labs in an “unguarded” Chinese IP address that the firm Breadcrumb Cybersecurity tied to “multiple malicious cybersecurity incidents between August 2019 and October 2021 targeting the United States.”
The Mercatus Center researchers focused specifically on four categories of points of interest that would “more likely to be of military interest because those locations are strategically important and vulnerable in a kinetic conflict.”
This is how they came up with the 3,500 targets broken down above.
“The POIs are comprehensive, and their locations are spread across Taiwan’s territory, including in areas that are sparsely populated,” the report said. “The data suggest that at least one Chinese entity, possibly a government-affiliated entity, is paying close attention to a variety of economically and militarily critical locations on the island.”
Analyzing the targets more specifically, the researchers noted that military POIs include the Taiwanese navy’s Haifeng Brigade, an ammunition depot in Cishan, Taiwan’s Military Police Command headquarters, and the Army Logistics Training Center.
Meanwhile, transportation POIs included the Taoyuan International Airport, the Taichung station of the Taiwan High Speed Rail and the Port of Kaohsiung.
ICT targets include various facilities belonging to Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile, the headquarters of Qualcomm Taiwan Corporation and other ICT service provider offices.
Governmental targets include the National Security Bureau and, interestingly, a village government office on Orchid Island, located to the east of the Taiwan island.
However, Newsweek continues:
Among the most vulnerable and potentially consequential of these points of interest are the 15 undersea cables that provide the island with global internet access. The report identified the three landing stations in which these submarine lines reach Taiwan in the city of New Taipei surrounding the capital, the northern town of Toucheng and the southern town of Fangshan.
Bruce Jones, a former adviser to the U.S. State Department, and now director of the Brookings Institution’s Project on International Order and Strategy, who reviewed the report, also warned of the vulnerability of these undersea cables. Jones told Newsweek:
The disruption to Taiwan would be far greater than the disruption to China because China has multiple other cables to every other part of the world. So, China could impose some substantial confusion and complexity in Taiwan with only a relatively modest cost to its own operations.
Jones noted that about 93% of all global data flows through undersea cables.