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China/Taiwan Conflict; War Games


Shade_Wilder
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Hi All
 
It seems that things between China and Taiwan are heating up, again. I find it terribly sad; I have gotten to know some Taiwanese people over the years, lived there for a time, and sincerely wish that they could just live a 'normal' life and become a model for Asian Democratic Political Development; other Asian societies/cultures could use an example of what a good life could be like.
 
Alas, they live next to a bully which covets their land.
 
There is an assumption that China will invade sooner or later, an assumption that I (sadly) share, but the timing is still in dispute. My guess, which a lot of people share, is 2027 as it'll correspond with political developments in each country, but especially with a five-year Congress in Beijing. In five years, the Party will have to justify its rule, again, and that process is much simpler if the nation is at war and 'Nationalism' and/or 'Bloody Shirt-ism' is peaking. However, it could be sooner.
 
About six months ago, the US NBC Network ran a special 30-minute program 'War Gaming' what a conflict might look like, and what lessons could be learned. It is worth having another look now with the on-going developments in Ukraine and seeing what up-dated lessons might apply. I'll be curious if the Members who participate in the Ukraine/Russia thread can offer any unique comparative insight.
 
I don't want to give away the ending, but... I find it hard to fathom any conflict like this that doesn't get out of hand. Badly out of hand.
 
The video is about 30 minutes, and features some quite serious people.
 
Looking forward to some comments!
 
 
th?id=OVP.mS3tZpE4tUqIc413U1obSwHgFo&pid
Meet the Press takes over the NBC News Washington Bureau to stage a full-day war game between the U.S. and China. » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC » Watch more NBC video: http://bit.ly/MoreNBCNews NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerful news brands that deliver compelling, diverse and engaging news ...
www.youtube.com

 

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13 hours ago, f1fan22 said:

 

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Thanks very much for your post, but respectfully, it isn't very convincing.

First, citing a four-year-old opinion poll to support your case immediately damages the credibility of the argument. That said, I suspect that you are correct to assert that many people don't care about the issue on a day-to-day basis, with the caveat that at election time they care deeply. Moreover, the idea that an issue is only propagated by minorities of the general population has some merit, but it is those same minorities who bring it forth at election time when it takes on a new, larger significance with the majority.

Next, the argument that a country's Leader's words shouldn't be taken seriously flies in the face of what we have learned from history. In fact, had people listened to a country's Leader's words more carefully in the past, then it is likely that many conflicts could have been avoided or mitigated.

Third, you suggest that the re-unification of Taiwan and Chine will occur, but it won't be violent and it won't be complete. Forgive me, but that description is of two independent countries having good relations, and that flies in the face of policies and statements by the mainland government.

Fourth, you state that China and/or the Chinese aren't violent and in fact are usually the victims of violence. Respectfully, read history.  Or, perhaps better, ask some people who have been in a similar situation to the Taiwanese; the Tibetans, the Uighurs and the Hong Kongese. Oh wait, you'll not have a chance to ask, and if they answered, they'd be arrested.

Finally, I very much doubt that Xi is angry with Putin; each day Putin is weakening Russia and increasing its reliance on China in particular. I suspect that makes Xi quite pleased with the situation; in his shoes, I would be.

Most indicators that I, and most others who study these kinds of things, can see suggest that mainland China will invade Taiwan if Taiwan declares it independence, and will also invade if Taiwan merely tries to maintain the status quo for too long. An argument along the lines of 'Ah shucks, China wouldn't do that' doesn't hold water.

PS Is this Poolie? Bob Scott?

 

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had many commenting on the similarities to the case of China and Taiwan, although big differences are there as well.

In a military sense, and after watching the 'War Game' video, what lessons/questions/ facts/ideas can we take from one and apply to the other? My preliminary list, in no special order...

 

  • "No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy". Yes, every military planner should have it tattooed under their eyelids, but... look at Russia's early days in Ukraine.
  • Sea ships are vulnerable to land-based missiles. China would need to transport a couple of million troops, and that requires transports which are vulnerable to missiles. Yes, I think that modern war-fighting ships are protected (or else why would advanced navies still be building them?), but the transports? If I were the Taiwanese, I'd have 'Pop Up and Shoot' anti-ship missile emplacements all along my coast. Everywhere. Literally everywhere.
  • Further to the point above, if I were the Chinese, I'd want massive bombardment of the Taiwan coast to knock out anti-ship missile emplacements, but that means giving up tactical and/or strategic surprise.
  • There will be US military satellite intelligence in real-time, or near real-time, given to the Taiwanese. It is unspoken, but I am sure that it is occurring in Ukraine, so it would also occur in Taiwan.
  • Troop and general population morale matters. I think that the Russians expected to be greeted as 'Liberators', but were not. I'd expect the same in Taiwan.
  • An invaded territory's allies may well stick around much longer than you think. It seems that Russia expected the US and Europe to abandon Ukraine, but they didn't and I don't think they will. I think many Asian countries would support Taiwan longer than China thinks; Asians are clever enough to see that they need to stand together or, long-term, they'll be picked off one-by-one
  • Further to the point above, allied territories will help MUCH more then was planned for. Much more.
  • Nukes aren't the deterrent you thought they were. Any conflict with nuclear-armed countries is dangerous as hell, but if both sides have them, they can be cancelled out.
  • Old equipment might still be in the log books, but is it still viable? Ukraine has taught us that drones and shoulder-fired missiles can wreak havoc on the enemy (especially tanks); how many does Taiwan have, how many will they acquire and how many will they manufacture on the sly?
  • Drones have changed the battlefield forever. What are the electronic and counter-electronic forces' capacities like?
  • What are the qualities of the respective forces? China last fought against Vietnam in the 90s and I can't recall Taiwan's last battle. 1949? I think Russia expected their army to perform MUCH better, but all they have done since Afghanistan is shell civilians.

Any additions?

 

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Can China afford a major conflict now or in the very near future?  Post covid China is not in a good financial position with Real Estate and finance collapses, drought and flood devastation of crops and infrastructure, plus energy and raw material supply shortages.  Apart from all the above, imagine how much export revenue would be lost through sanctions. 

But it's not up to China as a whole,  rather it may be a decision of the CCP lead by Xi.  Personally I don't think they would go to war in the manner presented in the video.  Playing the long term stealth game of scare tactics and slow political infiltration is more likely.

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11 minutes ago, KaptainRob said:

Can China afford a major conflict now or in the very near future?  Post covid China is not in a good financial position with Real Estate and finance collapses, drought and flood devastation of crops and infrastructure, plus energy and raw material supply shortages.  Apart from all the above, imagine how much export revenue would be lost through sanctions. 

But it's not up to China as a whole,  rather it may be a decision of the CCP lead by Xi.  Personally I don't think they would go to war in the manner presented in the video.  Playing the long term stealth game of scare tactics and slow political infiltration is more likely.

You might be correct, KR. Then again...

Going to war over perceived national interest, or economics, or merely 'Face' isn't always logical. In 1939, Hitler's Germany's largest trading partner was... France.

I don't believe that any mainland Chinese leader could survive in power if Taiwan declared independence and they didn't invade (not too likely) or even if many nations started recognizing Taiwan as independent (more likely in coming years). And, you can always trust a national leader to know which way the wind is blowing...

I agree that for the near future mainland China is in rough shape, and I think that it is going to colour the world's perception of the mainland for the worse, and who knows where that leads? The planet took a risk (a reasonable one in my view) in the early 2000s of trying to incorporate the Mainland Chinese into the Global System, especially allowing them into the WTO, and it was done with the idea that the mainland would begin following a global rules-based order. Sadly, the mainland hasn't really followed through on that implied commitment, so I think many countries are going to re-evaluate how they treat them, up to and including Taiwan.

Or, more simply put, I think the days of walking on egg-shells around mainland China are coming to an end. I think that is a good thing, but it also will increase the likelihood of conflict over Taiwan.

The old Chinese curse of 'May you live in interesting times' seems appropriate.

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27 minutes ago, Shade_Wilder said:

Or, more simply put, I think the days of walking on egg-shells around mainland China are coming to an end. I think that is a good thing, but it also will increase the likelihood of conflict over Taiwan.

The old Chinese curse of 'May you live in interesting times' seems appropriate.

Yes interesting, albeit disturbing, times.   I always held a belief that Globalisation couldn't work and it took something like 30 years before it really kicked along.  IMO that was when the rot set in, back in the 70's and 80's.

China not only became a major global trader but slowly destroyed the manufacturing base of many countries products, clothing for one.  Incentives for innovative research and development industry which should have been funded by Western Governments, saw many products not only made in China but the technology 'lost' to China upon the end of tenure.

China also stole and copied Western product, learning from associated industry, like aerospace, until they could produce a home-grown product.  As an exporter, China supplies the precursors for synthetic drug making, a multi billion dollar industry which also serves to destroy Western society.  Minor wins for exporters, say in fruit or vegetables from Aus/NZ to China, lead to Chinese growers and processors re-exporting packaged product to the world at lower prices.

So, what goes around comes back again and we're seeing a gradual return to sovereign values and inter-regional trade agreements where some tariffs may apply.

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21 minutes ago, KaptainRob said:

Yes interesting, albeit disturbing, times.   I always held a belief that Globalisation couldn't work and it took something like 30 years before it really kicked along.  IMO that was when the rot set in, back in the 70's and 80's.

China not only became a major global trader but slowly destroyed the manufacturing base of many countries products, clothing for one.  Incentives for innovative research and development industry which should have been funded by Western Governments, saw many products not only made in China but the technology 'lost' to China upon the end of tenure.

China also stole and copied Western product, learning from associated industry, like aerospace, until they could produce a home-grown product.  As an exporter, China supplies the precursors for synthetic drug making, a multi billion dollar industry which also serves to destroy Western society.  Minor wins for exporters, say in fruit or vegetables from Aus/NZ to China, lead to Chinese growers and processors re-exporting packaged product to the world at lower prices.

So, what goes around comes back again and we're seeing a gradual return to sovereign values and inter-regional trade agreements where some tariffs may apply.

I think that we are going far off-topic (and you a Mod... tsk-tsk, shame-shame 😎), but...

I think that problem is not enough globalization and too much willingness to allow rogue regimes like the mainland Chinese to skirt rules. Respectfully, most of what you have argued above could have been written about the Japanese and/or the South Koreans and they have turned out well. Very well.

Globalization has brought about a mass lifting of people out of poverty, the recognition of individual human rights, the end of colonialism, the democratization of learning and knowledge, the creation of some global institutions (we all share the same planet, FFS) and so much more. A return to Regionalism would, in my view, simply create blocks of people in conflict with other blocks of people; been there, done that. It is only when all peoples live under a few basic norms (while respecting individual/national differences) that we can finally thrive as a species.

Coming back to China/Taiwan... if we humans accept that regional bullies, like the Mainland Chinese, can dictate to others what and how to do things, it is a step backwards. Mainland China demands that it be allowed sovereignty over a territory that it last exercised jurisdiction over in 1895, and that isn't acceptable. Yes, I am sure that they are trying to secretly undermine Taiwan's Democratization, but it isn't working, and the recent emasculation of HK means that it'll never work; Taiwan people can see what will occur if they let their guard down.  

I don't believe that mainland China and Taiwan will ever peacefully re-unite; I don't see it as ever being in Taiwan's interest. I think the only way for that to occur is through military force, and we all should be thinking about how we might support the free people of Taiwan if/when that occurs.

Thus the 'War Games' video...

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1 hour ago, Shade_Wilder said:

I think that we are going far off-topic

No.  It all comes back to Globalisation IMHO.  It brought about too much free trade which empowered China to become the industrial leader and almost certainly brought it into the 21st century in a big hurry.

Trouble is that it also empowered the CCP and Xi came up with long-term goals of BIR and reunification of Taiwan.  One a vision to support China's growing world dominance and guard supply routes and the other as a personal goal or other obscure reasons.

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2 hours ago, Shade_Wilder said:

I don't believe that mainland China and Taiwan will ever peacefully re-unite; I don't see it as ever being in Taiwan's interest. I think the only way for that to occur is through military force, and we all should be thinking about how we might support the free people of Taiwan if/when that occurs.

I'll wrap up my opinions in this post firstly by agreeing with you above (in bold).  Based on the way in which China got to this stage, as I've opined, I believe they will quietly carry on as before and NOT go to war.  In fact I believe War Games such as this are mischievous, stirring the pot unnecessarily.

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Hmm... we really have very differing visions of the globe, the past and the future!

First of all, you seem to be confabulating Taiwan and Globalization, an idea that I simply don't agree with. I think it is much, much simpler; Taiwan, or perhaps more properly the island of Formosa, was once part of the mainland Chinese empire and they want it back, especially as the Nationalists got safe haven there in '49. Quite honestly, I think it is a child-like hissy fit; MINE! MINE! MINE! And, now that they have been shouting 'MINE!" for so long, they simply can't back down without looking weak, stupid and foolish.

Put another way, what, other than a small bit of land, would the mainland gain from re-unification? Taiwan's strength is due to its unique culture, people, ethos, laws, contacts, etc. If ever the mainland took control, they wouldn't be able to replicate those things and it'd just become a poor speck of land on the ocean.

It is 'Face'; nothing more and nothing less. Moreover, the decision to intervene militarily will not be a logical one, it'll be an emotional one, and there ain't much that can be done to dissuade, at least at the moment. A wiser, more prudent course of action is to prepare (yes with War Games) rather than poking your head in the sand and hoping for the best. Deter, deter, deter and hope that somewhere down the line something occurs which negates the emotional need to conquer. Okay, it doesn't ring out like a Grandiose Policy for the Ages, but hopefully will work as the alternatives suck.

In terms of the mainland, China always was going to be and always will be a major global player; roughly a fifth of the world's population lives there and that can't be ignored. The choice has always been either work with it, help it develop and try to rope it into a global order OR try to contain it, limit it, and hope that it never escapes its cage. Respectfully, trying to keep it in its cage was and is a ludicrous policy; it was/is going to come out eventually and it is better to be a friend than a foe. 

Will the 'BRI' enhance mainland China's economic prospects? Yup, just like the Suez Canal did for the UK and the Panama Canal did for the USA; global powers enhance foreign infrastructure to enhance economic prospects at home; it is the way of history. However, the BRI will help many, including many potential allies, if ever there was a dispute with the mainland Chinese. Further to that point, while the BRI will help China economically, it'll be helping others at the same time, and as others are lifted from poverty, the world will change; economic benefits from the BRI do not and will not travel only in the direction of China. Moreover, China is now learning that all of their BRI partners would like a better system, one where there are clear, fair, trading rules. Sound familiar? Finally, China made several unfavorable deals with BRI partners, and is suffering from a deficit in reputation already; how much more will there be? How much lower will it go? As one African country who were sucked into an iffy deal suffers, its neighbors see the result and begin making plans to screw over the Chinese right back; again, the way of history. And, BTW, China's current competitors, like the Western nations, might just egg on a few issues here and there.

A shorter version of this post might just say that dealings with China can take two paths. You can ignore them and hope they don't come knocking down the road, or you can embrace them, and entangle them into your system until they are trapped. Respectfully, the second method is better.

Okay, a bad morning at the dentist. I am popping a few pills and having a nap.

 

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As Dr. Carl Sagan stated, “You have to know the past to understand the present.”  And that is why IMO, China, having come so far technologically and economically in recent decades (despite current setbacks), will not wage war on Taiwan and its allies.

The CCP may be a vile & corrupt group of old men, but they aren't stupid.  I hope.

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1 hour ago, KaptainRob said:

As Dr. Carl Sagan stated, “You have to know the past to understand the present.”  And that is why IMO, China, having come so far technologically and economically in recent decades (despite current setbacks), will not wage war on Taiwan and its allies.

The CCP may be a vile & corrupt group of old men, but they aren't stupid.  I hope.

Except of course 25% of these 'old men' are actually women.

https://daily.jstor.org/communist-party-of-china/

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9 hours ago, Shade_Wilder said:

The old Chinese curse of 'May you live in interesting times' seems appropriate.

Not a Chinese saying, but originated from a British Liberal Party politician.

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There are many Taiwans.

Firstly, the population can be divided between Han Chinese and Indigenous non-Han (there are others, descendants of other immigrant groups). The Han are about 95% of the population.

The Han can be further divided into Benshengren and Waishengren. The Waishengren refers to "mainlanders", or specifically, Chinese who moved to Taiwan/Formosa in 1947 (probably about 10% of the current population). Its thought at one point, they were 15% of the population. The Benshengren are the Hoklu, who moved to Formosa in the 17th Century (70%), and the Hakka, who moved in the late 19th Century, just prior to the Japanese takeover in 1895 (15%). All of these groups will have different views based on their ties to the mainland. The Beshengren are least likely to have familial ties to China. Time naturally erodes these ties.

Then there are three geographical Taiwans. We recognise "Taiwan" as a country comprising Taiwan, Taipeh, Tainan, and Taitung prefectures. These were recognised as seperate entities in the Chinese constitution. But Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, also includes Kinmen Island (sometimes caled Quemoy), Wuqiu Island, the Matsu Islands, all of which were part of Fujian province. and Taiping and Zhongzhou, nominally part of Guangdong Province. The latter, in the Spratlys, have a negligable population.

 

Quemoy and Matsu were a point of contention in the 1960 US Presidential election. Eisenhower wanted Chiang Kai-Shek to pull back to Formosa island, as these rump parts of Fujian, just a few miles off the coast of China, were considered militarily indefensible, but nevertheless committed to defending the outlying islands if they were attacked. Kennedy, as Senator, supported an amendment, if the President felt such an attack was not directed at the ROC entirely, but as some attempt to reunify Fujian province. Nixon though wanted to defend these islands to the last as a matter of principle.

 

Skip to 4:55 for the question.

There are significant populations in these islands.

 

The views on Taiwan's independance will of course be guided by family history and location. For 50  years, Formosa was under Japanese rule, which attempted the eradicate Chinese culture. That has left a mark. The Nationalist Government attempted to eradicate all signs of Japanese occupation. Something that has personally affected me was the location of Japanese POW camps. When the Nationalists arrived in 1945 (the islands were really liberated by the Americans), one of their first acts was to order the  evacuation of all Allied POW remains. My grandfather was a POW there.. The camps fell  within the Japanese garrison, and were taken over by Nationalist forces; ironically, many of the camp guards were Formosans hoping to get Japanese citizenship by serving the Emperor. Likely many simply switched uniform and changed from Japanese names to Chinese names. The Nationalist government made no effort to preserve the location of these camp. Its only in the last few years that a Canadian businessman on the island, working with enthusiastic Taiwanese, has located all of the camps, in order to erect memorials at them, with no to little help from central government.

There will be Taiwanese who have always felt disconnected from the mainland; the Formosan Republic was Asia's first republic, before it was subsumed by Japan. There will be some who take a particularly anti-CCP view, and will view that as a reason to seperate. Others will be descendants of refugees, and may feel a degree of anger towards the mainland, and may even view the Beijing government as illegal usurpers, and so won't support independance, because that would rule out the rightful government of China from being installed. Some of these Islanders might want unifircation, because they might feel these KMT arguments are nothing to do with them.

Its not clear what the US will do if the Chinese attempted to take Quemoy and/or Matsu. The islands have no economic or military value. The US cannot prevent the Chinese from seizing them; their decision will be whether they would want to eject them. They are not worth the life of a single soldier. But they have enormous political value.

 

https://www.cato.org/commentary/china-could-start-mini-island-war-taiwan#

 

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So in this wargame Chinas first move is to attack Guam. This is essentially a declaration of war against the US.

Its not going to just drag Japan and Australia in it will bring in the whole of NATO. Chinese assets across the globe will get hammered. Expect every Chinese naval and civilian port on the planet to get hit. Expect a complete blockade of all the oil and coal China needs to exist.

The financial sanctions alone will destroy China within a week. No access to western markets. No access to western banks. No access to currency exchange systems.

Round two? Hit Hawaii? Hello China say goodbye to all those hydroelectric dams you have. Now half of China is flooded and there's barely any electricity to be had.

Round three? Launch a nuke? That is immediately going to trigger a full retaliatory strike. The US is not going to wait and see if its a single missile bursting in the air. Its going to see a nuke heading straight for America.

This is by far the dumbest tabletop exercise I have ever seen. Its simply not realistic.

Do I think China may one day try to take Taiwan by force? Yes I can see that happening. But it will start out low key. The Chinese will do everything they can to try to prevent the US entering the war along with every other western country. They will not instigate a full scale war with the most powerful nation on earth.

 

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2 hours ago, lspab said:

And not old either; only 18% are retirees.

As for the "vile" assertion; of course that's a subjective, not objective opinion, and probably most CCP members are very agreeable chaps and chapesses.

Indeed most of them probably are but by their actions they support a despotic government which is vile.

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4 hours ago, Rookiescot said:

So in this wargame Chinas first move is to attack Guam. This is essentially a declaration of war against the US.

Its not going to just drag Japan and Australia in it will bring in the whole of NATO. Chinese assets across the globe will get hammered. Expect every Chinese naval and civilian port on the planet to get hit. Expect a complete blockade of all the oil and coal China needs to exist.

The financial sanctions alone will destroy China within a week. No access to western markets. No access to western banks. No access to currency exchange systems.

Round two? Hit Hawaii? Hello China say goodbye to all those hydroelectric dams you have. Now half of China is flooded and there's barely any electricity to be had.

Round three? Launch a nuke? That is immediately going to trigger a full retaliatory strike. The US is not going to wait and see if its a single missile bursting in the air. Its going to see a nuke heading straight for America.

This is by far the dumbest tabletop exercise I have ever seen. Its simply not realistic.

Do I think China may one day try to take Taiwan by force? Yes I can see that happening. But it will start out low key. The Chinese will do everything they can to try to prevent the US entering the war along with every other western country. They will not instigate a full scale war with the most powerful nation on earth.

What's worse, is a loon in China actually launches an MRBM armed with conventional explosive to try and take out a carrier. The US won't wait for said carrier to be sunk or avoid the MRBM, nor figure out if the warhead was a nuke or not after the fact. All they know is in a matter of minutes, China has launched an MRBM, warhead unknown, destination unknown, potentially nuclear. What does the US do? Take action while that missile is still in flight, including an MRBM response. For that matter, what does France and the UK do, because that missile could targeted as their interests. They may also think about a response.

This is why it was idiotic for China to design a carrier killer around an MRBM already in service. It basically cannot be used without immolation of China.

 

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Interesting thread. I originally posted the 'War Games' video to promote discussion, but I thought that a more limited 'lessons learned' from Ukraine that could apply to Taiwan would be the result.

(BTW, if anyone wants to take a crack at that, I'd still be quite interested.)

For the record, I hope that mainland China does NOT invade Taiwan; I suspect they might in time, but genuinely and sincerely hope that I am wrong. Moreover, while the 'War Games' video is interesting, I think it would be much more applicable to a scenario where China has decided to do away with Western/White People influence entirely and decided to 'wall off' the Western Pacific as Japan tried to do in WW2. BTW, I also think that one is possible, but at least 20 years into the future, so let's leave it alone for now.

A great deal of the argument that mainland China wouldn't invade Taiwan is based on the assumption that the US, and perhaps others, would intervene to protect Taiwanese sovereignty. 

That is 'one hell of an assumption'.

The US has a policy of 'Strategic Ambiguity' towards a possible invasion, and off the top of my head, no one else has gone even that far, much less offered security guarantees (BTW, Mr Scott; NATO will not get officially involved in any way, shape or form. Period.). Is Taiwanese sovereignty a proverbial 'Hill America is Willing to Die on"? I doubt many Americans could find Taiwan on a map. 

One method to divine future intentions is to look at the recent past. China claimed, quite ridiculously, that all of the South China Sea was theirs, occupied, built up, militarized and fortified most/all of the disputed islands and the rest of the world did... not much/SFA. Yes, the US and others do occasional "Freedom of Navigation" missions (good on them!), but China was essentially allowed to waltz in, take over disputed territory, and claim it without consequence. Seen from Beijing, why would they believe they couldn't do the same in Taiwan/Formosa? Arguably, they have a better claim to Taiwan/Formosa than they do to the South China Sea, so...

Moreover, there seems to be an assumption that if the US and others decided to intervene to protect Taiwanese sovereignty, they'd be successful.

That is another 'one hell of an assumption'.

By all accounts that I read, the US military is still better that the Chinese one, but not by as much as it used to be, and China is catching up fast. Moreover, distance and terrain matter. Taiwan is in short-range missile range from the Chinese mainland, while any American/Allied missiles would need to go great distances. Further, Chinese air power would be a proverbial 'stone's throw' away from the action while US/Allied would need to travel great distances and likely need to re-fuel once or twice per sortie. Finally, it's not like they could re-supply Taiwan like they do in Ukraine. In Ukraine, they can use rail to go to the Polish/Ukraine border and (without any danger) load things up. In Taiwan, they'd need to break through air defenses and/or break a naval blockade first; not going to happen.

Third, members have pointed out that there would be a huge economic price to pay by China, and that would deter them.

That is the third 'one hell of an assumption'.

Would China pay an economic price for any invasion? Yup. Would that economic price also be shared by the West? Yup. Ukraine is instructive here; I thought that Western economic sanctions would have brought Russia to its proverbial knees, but that hasn't happened, at least not yet. Moreover, we are going to see just how committed Europe is to Ukraine when the snows set it in; I think that Europe will hold and continue to support Ukraine, but Russia supplies gas and not much else. Would the Western world be willing to do without everything that China produces for the benefit of Taiwan? Remains to be seen, but 'iffy' at best.

Finally, there is an assumption that US nukes would be a deterrent.

The fourth 'one hell of an assumption'.

Would the US nuke China and risk retaliatory nuclear strikes from China for the benefit of Taiwan? There is no way to know at present, but I very much have my doubts. The simple fact is that the US and Taiwan do NOT have an iron-clad security agreement nor is Taiwan officially under the US Nuclear Umbrella; why do people think the US would risk itself without an agreement in place?

I come back to what I have said above; the best way to deal with this situation is deter, deter, deter and hope that in the future, there is an off-ramp to diffuse the situation. Putting one's head in the sand and hoping for the best isn't a rational policy. Simply relying on the rationality of the Chinese Politburo isn't a rational policy. Pretending that it doesn't exist is not a rational policy.

Create conditions on the ground which act as a deterrence to any military action and kick the can down the road. It isn't a satisfying policy, it doesn't have grand ideas, but it is likely the only thing that'll work.

 

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For all your "Hell of an Assumption"s why thiungs wouldn't work out for the Taiwanese/United States, its a "hell of an assumption" to believe China could easily take the island.

 

Operation Causeway was the American plan to capture Formosa.  A meticulously worked out plan by a country extremely experienced in beach landings. The only beaches that you can land on are down in the South, then you have to fight your way through a mountain covered in jungle. As the crow flies, its 100kms to Taiwan. In reality, its more like 300-400kms. China would have to maintain a 400km supply train to keep its troops fed and watered. The closest you had to that experience is the US Pacific War, which required an enormous amount of shipping to support it.

A lot of talk is about the vast size of the Chinese armed forces; 2 million versus 200,000 Taiwanese. Of course, there is a reason China has to maintain such large forces, which have done nought since their insation of Vietnam 40+ years ago. One is to protect its borders; there are a lot of military bases near China's borders. China has multiple frozen conflicts, with Russia, Vietnam, India. It can't send 2 million troops to Taiwan, because like all authoritarian states, it is frightened of its neighbours. You won't find hundreds of thousands of American troops starting down Canadians. Similarly  in Europe; despite a history, Germany isn't worried about France or the Netherlands invading.

The other role of the armed forces is internal security. China has significant numbers of non-Han minorities, and some of these are quite restive, eg Uighars. These would also dilute the number of troops that could be send to Taiwan.

For an invasion of Taiwan, only two sorts of troops can be used. Marines and Airborne troops.

Amphibious landings would be conducted by the People's Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps. Current strength is 40,000 troops, according to a US DoD 2021 assessment. It's role is to establish a bridgehead. It has no combat experience.

Airborne attacks, likely helicopter borne troops, would be from the People's Liberation Army Air Force Airborne Corps, also with a strength of 40,000. Significantly, for an airborne corps, they don't have that many helicopters, depending more on fixed wing. The US has 8x per capita more helicopters.

Once a bridgehead is established, then there are six amphibious combined arms brigades distributed across three group armies (the 72nd, 73rd, and 74th). While the marines are quite lightly armed, with onlya light tank, these brigades would be more heavily armed. Theres are combined arms bridades, and can be light , medium and heavy armed.  Chinese brigades can be 5-10,000 men. Call it 7,500. So that's another 45,000.

So about 125,000 fighting troops who could take part in an invasion of Taiwan. If they were to eliminate naval interdiction (which they won't), they could supplement that with regular troops. But 125,000 up against over 200,000 Taiwanese suddenly doesn't sound overwhelming. Taiwan has 1.6 million reserves.

The Taiwanese Reserves will be of variable quality. The regulars will have training comparable to the US, though their equipment might not be as good

Chinese training is said to be extremely variable; there is a professional cadre, but this is a relatively recent development

Both sides will be highly motivated. However, generally the attacker needs a 3-4x size advantage when against peers. China will need to degrade Taiwan's defences immensely before a single boot lands on the island, and that is unlikely to happen with the world just looking on.

Whats more likely is China seize one or more of the Kinmen Islands, as a symbolic reunification of Fujian Province. It will be touted as a blow to Nixonian policy, which pledged to defend these rocks by all means possible, to prevent the encoachment of communism. But no one cares about the encroachment of communism anymore.

This is one of those islands. You see the Taiwan Army post there. You see in the background China proper. Its that close.

https://library.panos.co.uk/cache/5AD756C7CEAE47C8AF0C5E437F7B55B3/00298255.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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