Pratas Island

Noted an article yesterday:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/china-debated-attacking-taiwan-controlled-123900171.html

Basically, Taiwan is saying that China is considering invading Pratas island in 2024 or after (but not before 2024).

Now, Pratas Island is located 200 miles (310 kilometers) southeast of Hong Kong. It is 276 miles (444 kilometers) from Taiwan.

It is a circular atoll with a single island that is crescent-shaped (see picture).  It is that little piece of land in the western part of the atoll with a lagoon.

Map of Pratas Island (1969)

The island is about 430 acres (174 hectares) and measure 1.7 miles long (2.8 kilometers) and is only about a half-mile wide (0.537 miles or 0.865 kilometers). Not exactly a prize the size of Taiwan. There are “numerous” oil wells to the west of island. Not sure how much, if any, oil is being pumped there. 

The height of the island at the base of the “The Pratas Triangulation Point” is 2.4875 meters (8.16 feet). Sea levels are currently projected to rise 2-3 feet by the end of this century, so I gather this island is going to get smaller over time.

According to Wikipedia there are about 500 Taiwanese marines stationed there. The island has no permanent inhabitants. (see: Pratas Island – Wikipedia).

Pratas Island Lagoon

Now, I am not sure I am going to loose a lot of sleep over this one.

  1. It is a fairly insignificant piece of terrain.
  2. No one lives there.
  3. Is China really going to take the political and economic hit to take this?

If China grabbed the island, they were certainly take a political hit. They are not exactly the most popular country in the world right now, and this would have a negative impact to their world image and standing. I assume the local defense force would defend it, making it a bloody conquest. What would be the cost of this?

Militarily, it would serve to justify increases in the U.S., Taiwanese, South Korean and Japanese defense budgets.

Economically, it might have little impact, but two of China’s major trading partners are the United States and Taiwan. There might be limited or extensive economic sanctions.

Is this a hit that China is willing to take? 

This entry was posted in Amphibious Warfare, China by Christopher A. Lawrence. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience. ... Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation. ... His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024). ... Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

3 thoughts on “Pratas Island

  1. Hard to see any rational reason for occupying such an island. The only reason I can think of is to start an gradual process of absorbing Taiwan by testing the resolve of China’s opponents. If it does occupy the island it could be seen as setting a precedent for absorbing other parts of Taiwan gradually over the next few years. IMHO China seems to prefer a gradual but inexorable advance. Nothing too sudden but no going back.

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