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Daunting satellite images reveal China's 'provocative' Taiwan move

China has ramped up its pressure on Taiwan in recent years, with new images providing a clear message to the island state.

Satellite images showing a Chinese military training site appearing to replicate the road network surrounding Taiwan's Presidential Office, is a sign, some believe, of a planned invasion of Taiwan.

China has ramped up its push to reunify Taiwan with the mainland under a "one country, two systems" policy in recent years, however the island state vehemently rejects such a move, stressing its desire to become a recognised democratic nation. President Xi Jinping has not ruled out using military force to achieve his goals, with both China and Taiwan flexing their military muscles as tensions rise in the region.

The daunting satellite images, which appear to be new, are an indication of China's latest "geopolitical play," according to French political commentator Julien Hoez, who shared the side-by-side images on X, formally Twitter, this week.

One image shows a Chinese military training site in China's Inner Mongolia region which is "an exact replica of the road network near Taiwan's Presidential Palace", also pictured.

Left: Satellite image showing Chinese military training site in China's Inner Mongolia region with an image of the road network near Taiwan's Presidential Palace. Right: Close up of China's president Xi Jinping
A satellite image of a Chinese military training site in China's Inner Mongolia region is 'an exact replica of the road network near Taiwan's Presidential Palace' could be a sign of imminent invasion. Source: X/Getty

"Make no mistake: China fully plans to invade Taiwan in a geopolitical play that will unbalance the region," Hoez warned on social media.

China putting 'pressure' on Taiwan ahead of election

But threats such as this are "nothing new" says Wen-Ti Sung, sessional lecturer in Taiwan Studies at the Australian National University.

"China has been using replicas of Taiwanese buildings and landscapes for their military drills for years," he told Yahoo News Australia. Most notably, in 2020, a replica of Taiwan's Presidential Office building was shown on China's nightly prime-time news program, CCTV, with a news story about Chinese military exercises.

This particular image, and others like it, are surfacing again now "possibly as a security theater" ahead of Taiwan's 2024 election.

"It's an indirect way to exert pressure against Taiwan's government ahead of Taiwan's presidential transition in May," he explained.

"They can exert threat without directly threatening anyone, so it won't get criticised by others for being provocative. And if it works it may just nudge Taiwan's next government's China policy in a direction more favourable to Beijing."

Threats of war with 'one China' policy

China has stood firm that Taiwan is part of its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary, and refuses most contacts with countries that maintain formal ties with the island democracy. It threatens retaliation against countries merely for increasing contacts.

"We inform sternly the Taiwan authorities that engaging in separatist activities for Taiwan independence is against the will and interests of the Chinese nation and against the trend of history, and is doomed to a dead end," China’s former Foreign Minister Qin Gang previously said.

Last month, US top admiral of the Indo-Pacific command John Aquilino warned of a potential invasion by 2027. Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron said this would have an "absolutely calamitous effect" globally.

"We don’t want to see any unilateral action to change the situation between China and Taiwan," Cameron said. "There’s no doubt that were there to be something like a blockade it would have an absolutely calamitous effect, not just on Taiwan, but on the global economy.

"We’ve had recent evidence of a calamitous event with Covid. I think if that were to happen with Taiwan, it would be more significant."

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