China is preparing a large military fleet to invade Taiwan . China is preparing an armada of ferries and civilian vessels to invade Taiwan as Beijing steps up its pressure campaign against the island nation.

While the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) lacks the numbers of amphibious landing craft needed to stage the sort of invasion seen during the D-Day landings, it could bridge the gap with civilian vessels, including dozens of gigantic roll-on, roll-off ferries that can each carry hundreds of armoured vehicles.

“Amphibious landings under fire are among the most difficult of military manoeuvres,” said Ray Powell, the director of SeaLight, a Stanford University project focused on grey zone activities in the South China Sea.

Civilian ferries “would normally be poor choices for such a mission” but could be used to transport troops en masse across the Taiwan strait after its coastal defences are destroyed, or to overwhelm the island’s military “with sheer mass,” he said.

Beijing launched two days of military drills in the waters around Taiwan on Thursday in what it said was a “strong punishment” for “separatist acts” after a fiery inauguration address in Taipei earlier this week by Lai Ching-te, who was sworn in as president for a four-year term.

It was the third set of exercises encircling the island in the past two years.

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