Saturday, May 21, 2022

If China Attacks Taiwan, We Have Few Good Options

Stories about how America is amassing more US Navy ships near China in a show of force aimed at deterring an attack on Taiwan should be causing Americans greater concern. War breaking out in that area is not unthinkable, if coupled with what is happening in Ukraine it would greatly increase the possibility of world events spiraling out of control. Adding to the worry is the fact that if hostilities escalate, it seems none of the parties involved would be in a hurry to wave an olive branch. Such a move so early in the game would scream weakness which would be considered political suicide. 

Anyone paying attention will most likely agree tensions in the area are escalating. America has been upping the ante by moving two carrier strike groups and other resources into the area. This is in response to what seems to be a probing of America's resolve to back Taiwan's independence. This follows America's rather benign reaction to China's recent takeover of Hong Kong. Chinese fighter jets, now cross the so-called “median line” of the Taiwan Strait at will. This brazen move violates the implicit agreement made decades ago not to cross that line. 

The idea China will attack Taiwan has been battered around for years. What better time to test America's resolve than when its attention is already focused on the war in Ukraine? Currently around one million Taiwanese work and live in China and China is one of  Taiwan’s most important trading partners. It accounts for an estimated 40 percent of Taiwan’s outbound trades. Taiwan's heavy dependence on China for trade and commerce complicates an already complex relationship and is another reason China resents what it views as outside interference.

China Claims It Is Ready For War
Little in the way of provocation might be needed to set an attack in motion. In a recent phone call China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi warned national security adviser Jake Sullivan, “The Chinese side will take firm actions to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. We live up to our words,” he said. This was seen as sending Biden a message prior to his upcoming trip to East Asia. It started on Friday with a visit to South Korea to meet the country’s newly elected president. 

Biden then plans to travel to Japan, India, and Australia to meet with a joint security partnership called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. During the visit, the United States and Japan are expected to release a statement calling for both countries to join together to "deter and respond to" China's aggressive military activities in the region.

In the past, China has made it clear that any interference in the area will be considered an attack on China, in reality, bringing warships into the area or increasing military exercises should not be a deal-breaker. Only an attack or bombs hitting China's mainland should constitute widening the hostilities. Simply coming to Taiwan's aid should not reach the level of elevating the conflict, however, that does not translate into saying it won't. In short, any escalation of the current situation could lead to a full-blown war.

Most people assume that any attack on Taiwan will result in a loss of life, aircraft, and most likely ships. In such a situation it is not difficult to imagine things getting out of control. If a large ship is sunk the loss of life could easily be in the hundreds or even thousands. In the past, China has never had the capability to take Taiwan. Still, from China's point of view, I cannot see that they have much to lose by rattling their swords.

In the event shit would hit the fan and bombs are dropped on a Chinese city, the Chinese people are already conditioned to view America as the aggressor. On the other hand, few Americans have ever considered such a thing happening in America and would demand a violent and harsh response to any attack within America's borders.

Adding to Biden's problem if an invasion of Taiwan does occur is that it is in China's neighborhood which is well over seven thousand miles from America. This means America is at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to resupplying troops. This is the same reason some of us claimed Putin had a big advantage in Ukraine and urged America to keep out of the conflict. Long supply lines have been the bane of military leaders since distant wars began.

China Has Built A Slew Of Cutting-Edge Weaponry

Over the last few years China has beefed up its military. While some experts continue to think China lacks the ability to mount a massive cross-strait amphibious offensive across the roughly 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait, such an effort is not out of the question. China has produced a new generation of amphibious ships. The Type 075 can transport troops and weapons while launching aerial and undersea drones to conduct surveillance operations. 

This is a war Beijing would want to win incisively and swiftly. The largest barriers to such a victory are Taiwan's rugged shorelines, mountainous topography, and a populace that knows how to maximize these strategic features. Still, if nothing else, an attack would once and for all test how far America is willing to go in support of Taiwan. If America's response is as mild as it was to China taking over Hong Kong, China would have removed its biggest obstacle in a war with Taiwan and that is outside interference. 

Such an attack would also signal to the world China is ready to cement its place as a world military power. it could also be argued this is not a conflict where China has much to lose. Other issues feed into the notion of this conflict. For example, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will hold its 20th National Party Congress later this year and as it nears things that occur will be rooted in politics rather than economics. Also, it would put the global supply chain under even more stress and since housing is no longer a source of economic growth for China, it might even turn the communist regime towards expanding its military as a way to spark growth.

Americans would be naive not to consider that even in China suffers a great number of soldiers being killed, their propaganda machine will hide the truth. America on the other hand with its attitude that every American soldier's life is precious will wither in pain. The thing we must never forget is that Chinese culture is very patient and even if we thwart its efforts to take Taiwan back into its fold, it will try again. In short, if China attacks Taiwan, America has few good options.

Footnote; For more background on China and this subject see the articles below.

 (Republishing of this article welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog)

No comments:

Post a Comment