Recent Satellite Imagery Show Mockup of Taiwan’s Presidential Zone in China

Satellite Imagery 

Recent satellite imagery revealed a mockup of Bo’ai Special Zone located at a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) training site in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Bo’ai is a restricted zone in the capital city of Taipei’s Zhongzheng district that is the location of the Presidential Office Building, the Judicial and Legislative Yuans, and other important government buildings.

Satellite image of mockup of Taipei’s Bo’ai Special Zone at bombing range in China (X, formally Twitter/@JosephWen___)

The training site is located in the Alxa Left Banner administrative division of the Alxa League in Inner Mongolia. The PLA previously built other mockups of other important Taiwanese government buildings and sites at other PLA training bases. The most notable example is the mockup of the Presidential Office Building located at the Zhurihe Combined Tactics Training Base, also located in Inner Mongolia.

Taiwan’s Reaction

Taiwan’s Defense Minister, Chiu Kuocheng, said that “any country can imitate whatever facilities another country possesses” when he asked about the site during a legislative session on March 27th. He also stated that Taiwan can also build “certain locations” to conduct various exercises such as assaults and airstrikes. He then said that Taiwan’s operations in the Taiwan Strait and Penghu Islands are defensive in nature, so “it is inevitable” that “external forces” built many mockups of Taiwanese buildings. The minister then said that the mockup shows where China’s focus regarding unification lies.

Lin Yufang, a former Kuomintang (KMT) legislator, commented about the mockup of the special zone during a segment on the TVBS program, The Situation Room. Lin said that it is “unlikely that the PLA could swiftly launch a decapitation strike on Taipei” due to the island’s extensive air defenses. However, Lin also pointed out that the mockup is likely a part of China’s psychological and cognitive warfare strategy, which it uses to pressure Taiwan into unifying with the mainland. Furthermore, he said specifically that the strategy is to “tell Taiwan” that it can either fight or negotiate while also “simultaneously employing a dual strategy of negotiation and confrontation.”

Analysis

The recent satellite imagery shows how the PLA is training to conduct missions against key leadership or military sites in Taiwan. However, the mockup does not indicate that China will invade by 2027 or another date outlined by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The muted reactions of the Taiwanese Defense Minister and the former KMT legislator also indicate that the mockup’s existence is not an issue from their viewpoint. Regardless of Taiwan’s reaction, the mockup shows that the PLA is training to conduct decapitation strikes against Taiwanese political and military leadership. However, there are some key differences between the Alxa Left Banner site and other sites in other bases, such as Zhurihe.

The most significant difference is that the Bo’ai Special Zone mockup is likely a part of an “aerial bombing and gunnery training range.” The mockup’s location on a gunnery training range indicates that the PLA uses the site to practice mock bombing and strafing runs. The site’s location may also indicate that the site will be used by PLA Special Operations Forces (SOF) during training exercises to call in airstrikes or conduct surveillance to gather intelligence for airstrikes. Alternatively, the site could also be used by both personnel from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s 16th Airborne Corps and SOF to practice other missions, such as assaulting the area and buildings.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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