US report: potential conflict over Taiwan will weaken everyone


photo. Pixabay Military experts selected by the Center for Strategic and International Studies conducted war games about potential conflict. They stated that any likely direct participant in the war – the United States, China, Taiwan and Japan – would suffer “huge losses”. Chinese missiles at the start of the conflict would likely have destroyed US air bases from Japan to Guam, sank two US aircraft carriers, and 10 to 20 destroyers and cruisers by the time the invasion began. However, in most proven scenarios, Chinese forces would be wiped out before capturing any significant part of Taiwan, ultimately preventing them from achieving their goal of capturing the island’s capital, Taipei. And the damage done to mainland targets by Taiwanese counterattacks could destabilize the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, the report says. The wargames tested 24 different scenarios, focusing on China’s attempt to take over the island in 2026. The United States was crucial in the potential conflict: without American help, Taiwan would be conquered by the People’s Liberation Army in a maximum of three months. The war game assumed that the invasion would begin with a Chinese bombardment that would wipe out most of Taiwan’s navy and air force in a matter of hours. The Chinese navy would circle Taiwan and begin ferrying an amphibious force of thousands of troops and their equipment through the Taiwan Strait. In what war players have called the most likely scenario, Taiwan’s military would keep Chinese troops on the coast. “Meanwhile, U.S. submarines, bombers, and fighter-attack aircraft, often backed by the Japan Self-Defense Forces, quickly crippled China’s amphibious fleet,” the report said. Matthew Cancian of the US Naval War College believes there are key variables to this success. First, Taiwan itself must be determined to fight back. Second, Japan must allow the United States to launch counterattacks from its bases on Japanese territory. Without it, Cancian believes, US intervention would not be enough to keep Taiwan’s defenses up. According to the report, casualties during the conflict would be high – around 10,000 in the first weeks of the war. The question of whether the American and Japanese publics would be prepared to accept the losses associated with the defense of Taiwan was also analyzed. According to analysts, US losses could hurt Washington’s ability to project global power for a very long time. “The United States may win a Pyrrhic victory, suffering more in the long run than the “defeated Chinese,” the report says. The report said both Taiwan and the U.S. military need to build forces focusing on the most effective weapons to deter a Chinese invasion. “Despite rhetoric about adopting a ‘porcupine strategy’, Taiwan continues to spend most of its defense budget on expensive ships and planes that China will quickly destroy,” it said. Mainland China considers the island a part of its territory and strives for a peaceful reunification with the Republic of China in Taiwan, but – according to the statements of their leaders – they do not rule out the use of force in the event of a change in the status quo in the strait, i.e. in practice, e.g. declaration of independence by Taiwan, or in a situation of a significant increase in the subjectivity of the island. A recent Chinese military exercise (in response to visits by the highest-ranking U.S. officials to the island in decades) included a blockade of Taiwan, which seems a possible and viable scenario for Chinese conduct when the situation escalates. The United States, like almost 190 other countries in the world, does not maintain official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in Taiwan, but maintains extensive economic relations with it and is its main supplier of arms. The Guardian, KR

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