So the old, drunken hag has landed in Taiwan. Of course, stocks are ripping higher because, why not?
The bottom line here is that China doesn’t want to go to war with America over this. They want to recapture Taiwan. They’d prefer to do so without starting WW3.
However, they are being shown up here and they must respond. They were ranting and raving about how they would basically shoot the old bitch’s plane out of the sky if she dared to visit Taiwan, and now she’s there.
China looks weak. They’ve just been big-dicked by a female official from the Rainbow Flag Empire. How embarrassing is that? You notice that China does not have very many female politicians–I can’t imagine they’re thrilled about being shown up by an old, drunken bitch.
China has to do something here. Their bluff has been called. They now look like foolish beta males, and they must respond.
What that response is, I have no idea, but they will respond somehow. They have just been embarrassed in front of the whole world.
I found this informative article on the website “The Culture Shack” by an author named John Groot, a Canadian expat living in Taiwan.
He wrote an in-depth essay about the potential for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan–how it might play out, possible scenarios, etc. It’s a very good piece, obviously biased to the Taiwan side, but still provides good insight into things I previously knew nothing about.
China’s military build-up over the last few decades has been the largest peacetime military expansion in human history. And much of that enhanced capacity – such as the development of “carrier killer” hypersonic missiles – is based on being able to exclude the US and its regional allies from getting anywhere near Taiwan if the PLA decides to apply serious military pressure. PRC Chairman Xi Jinping – who is 69 years old – has said on several occasions that he wants to accomplish the “re”-unification with Taiwan within his lifetime. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine serves as a grim reminder that superpower politics can be very brutal indeed. Oh, yes it certainly could happen. Have no doubts on that score.
But will it? No one knows. It depends on a host of factors, including who’s running the show in Beijing, Washington DC, and Taipei. Will Xi get his 3rd term and thus likely be leader for life? Likely but not certain. Who will be the next US president? Will China hawks continue to prevail in the US State Department? Unknown. Will Taiwan finally harden its own defenses? Will the CCP accept some sort of compromise in talks with Taiwan? There are many opinions about all these things. But no clarity.
Obviously the best time for China to invade Taiwan is with Joe Biden in the White House. That’s what Putin concluded about Ukraine, and we all know he and Xi are buddies. They talk.
The real issue, as I see it, is what happens with Xi. In early November, the CCP will kick off its 20th National Congress (I can’t find an exact date but the previous one was November 8, 2017). This meeting of the Chinese Communist Party will last about a week, and during the meeting it will be determined whether Xi gets a third term as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, and thus a third term as President.
The prevailing belief is that if Xi is indeed endorsed for a third term (and thus becomes Leader for Life), then that will make China’s invasion of Taiwan a certainty, probably an imminent certainty. Wikipedia says that after the 20th National Congress, “Xi Jinping may begin adopting foreign policies that advance Chinese interests against the interest of the West.”
Which means an invasion of Taiwan, presumably.
However, it’s also possible that Xi sees an invasion of Taiwan occurring before the 20th National Congress as a way to strengthen his grip on power and rally support.
Plus, as we went over yesterday, China’s window of opportunity to invade Taiwan this year is limited to October, so any invasion will have to happen then. Waiting until after the Party Congress is infeasible.
Back to the article:
OK, so let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that it does happen. When is the most likely time? And what is the most likely scenario for the attack? This is again unclear, but there are a few points most experts agree on.
Firstly, for an amphibious invasion, there are two main windows, October and April. In the winter, the winds in the Taiwan Strait are too rough for large-scale naval action. In the summer, there is the risk of typhoons. However, for missile and bombing attacks, there are no such limited time windows.
Secondly, there would most likely be a noticeable movement and buildup of forces and materiel in PLA bases near Taiwan in the months before any actual amphibious attack. US and allied satellites and other intelligence sources would notice this and probably publicize it in an attempt to pressure China into backing off.
This is already happening.
And the US government publicizing Russia’s amassing of troops near the Ukrainian border did not pressure Russia to back off. It could be different with China, but I doubt it.
Finally, given China’s political culture, there would need to be some sort of political pretext, a legitimization. It seems very unlikely that they would launch a surprise attack without a formal process being announced, such as a law passed in China, and the opportunity presented to Taiwan to enter formal negotiations (negotiated surrender) by a certain deadline.
Taken all together, these factors could amount to something like a six-month timeline from first clear warning sign to an actual amphibious invasion.
So, probably the most likely scenario would be the spring of 2023.
But let’s consider the full range of possibilities. Here are some hypothetical but (hopefully) realistic scenarios of Chinese military aggression against Taiwan:
Scenario 1: The minimalist approach. The PLA occupies Jinmen or Matsu islands, as well as Taiwan’s islands in the South China Sea, and maybe even the Penghu Islands. They also declare part or all of the Taiwan Strait a “no go” zone to foreign military shipping. This would probably be fairly easy for the PLA, and Taiwan would probably not want to overcommit to naval action against the huge PLA Navy (PLAN) if it didn’t directly approach the main island.
Scenario 2: Hybrid warfare. Some sort of partial naval and aerial blockade of Taiwan intended to interfere with the economy, combined with stepped-up harassment, such as direct flyovers of Taiwan’s territory by PLA Air Force (PLAAF) jets, or incursions into Taiwan’s maritime space by China’s naval militia, protected by PLAN warships. This might also be accompanied by cyberattacks designed to shut down the internet and other infrastructure for days at a time. Taiwan would have no choice to assert a stiff defensive posture, resulting in real engagements between Taiwanese and Chinese forces, posing a serious risk of escalation.
Okay, but what would this amount to other than a buildup to a real war? China won’t just indefinitely harass Taiwan when its real goal is to conquer Taiwan, right?
Scenario 3: A serious attack but no invasion. This would involve air and sea warfare only, no boots on the ground. A full aerial and naval blockade, a protracted set of naval and aerial battles designed to degrade Taiwan’s military, combined with ballistic missile attacks on military targets. Aggressive cyberattacks turning off the internet and shutting down critical infrastructure for days or weeks. Once air and naval superiority were established, China could pick off targets at will, ratcheting up the threat until the government breaks.
The only reason for this would seem to be to soften Taiwan up for a proper invasion.
Scenario 4: The Full Monty – a proper invasion. Total air and sea blockade, massive ballistic missile attacks on military targets, massive cyberattacks to paralyze virtually all military, governmental, and civilian communication and shut down critical infrastructure. Aggressive naval and aerial engagements to degrade Taiwan’s forces and achieve battlespace superiority, followed by sustained aerial assaults by fighters and bombers on military targets. A decapitation strike at Taipei by special forces units to try to seize key leadership personnel. Well-coordinated insider treason and sabotage actions by gangsters, planted CCP agents, and other groups sympathetic to China – the so-called “5th column”. An amphibious assault with close air support from fighters, helicopters, and battle drones at one or more locations in Taiwan, and very possibly a move to seize a major port, such as Keelung, Taipei Port, Taichung, or Kaohsiung. Then hundreds of thousands of troops would start rolling in until the island was occupied. That would be the plan, anyway. PLA success in such an endeavor is very unclear. But they could do a hell of a lot of damage trying. And yes, they might actually succeed, at least partially, such as in seizing and holding the region around Taipei.
This is what I’m sure most of us envision when we think about China invading Taiwan.
Scenario 5: Worst Case (short of nuclear) scenario. Full air and sea blockade, massive ballistic missile attacks on military targets, massive cyberattack, aggressive naval and aerial attacks to degrade Taiwan’s forces and achieve battlefield superiority, followed by aerial assaults by fighters and bomber on military targets and area bombing of civilian targets. There are massive casualties, and Taiwan is crushed by brute force, surrenders, and then the occupiers enter the country and take it over.
I don’t think China wants this for the same reason Russia is resisting launching an all-out war on Ukraine: because they don’t intend to destroy Ukraine, they intend to capture it.
The Chinese don’t intend to destroy Taiwan (at least I don’t think they do), they intend to capture it. To “reunify” China, and finally put an end to the renegade Kuomintang government that set up shop on the island over seven decades ago.
At the current moment, as far as I have read, China could probably accomplish any of these scenarios except for scenario 4. Scenario 5 is so extreme that it is unlikely to happen. Scenario 4 is the riskiest for China, as they would have to deal with an angry populace, the ROC forces on their home turf, in addition to the aforementioned long warning window. Scenarios 1 and 2 are most likely to stiffen Taiwan’s resolve and get it even more international support, without really giving China what it wants. So, my bet is that scenario 3 is the one we have to worry about. If and when the PLA can accomplish effective area denial to allied forces, it becomes even more likely.
So this author believes the full-blown invasion is unlikely to happen at least in the near term.
As it is right now, the latest news on China’s response to Taiwan is that they are conducting “military exercises” and live fire drills including missile tests in the waters surrounding Taiwan on all sides.
I am no military expert so I have no idea what this actually amounts to other than loud noises and harassment. Seems like the Chinese are just thrashing about angrily, punching walls and kicking over garbage cans.
Maybe someone more knowledgable than I am can shed more light on what exactly China is accomplishing here with its response, but to me it seems like they’re just blustering and not actually doing anything substantial.
In other words, I don’t think anything China is doing right now is scaring Taiwan or the US.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it looks like China has lost this round.
For some reason, I just cannot seem to shake the feeling of doubt that China will engage in a full-blown massive invasion of Taiwan.
It just feels out of character. China is the land of Sun Tzu and the Art of War, and as we all know, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
I am no expert on the matter, but China does not strike me as a chest-beating, valiantly charge headlong into battle type of nation. Chinese military strategy is heavily influenced by mythology from the Warring States period, and the highest ideal to aspire to is to be a master of deception, rather than a William Wallace (Braveheart) approach.
It would be more snake, or fox, than lion, to use an animal analogy.
But then again, who knows: China launched an all-out assault against UN forces in Korea in 1950.
The bottom line is that we really do not know all that much about the Chinese approach to war, as they haven’t really been involved in a major, conventional war since Korea.
China underwent a “century of humiliation” at the hands of the British and other colonial powers for most of the 1800s and the first half of the 20th century (the Opium Wars, the Unequal Treaties, the Boxer Protocol, Versailles, the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945, etc.) and thus China has not been a great military power in modern times until quite recently; they don’t have a clear and robust track record like the US.
I always make the point that China is not a rising power in the world, but in fact a re-awakening power. It’s not as if China is becoming powerful for the first time in its history; it has simply taken China nearly a century to return to where it once was prior to the Century of Humiliation. This chart really illustrates the point:
You can see that in 1820–and really, all the way back to the time of the Han Dynasty 2000 years ago–China was the world’s largest economy (other than India), but the century of humiliation took an enormous toll on the Middle Kingdom.
My point is that we don’t know what China is like as a great power. We don’t know how they will conduct themselves militarily now that they are ascendant and can look us eye-to-eye.
We can only hope that they’re not as aggressive and warlike as we are.
Update: The running theory that seems to be emerging is that China’s military “exercises” in the seas surrounding Taiwan are just an excuse to eventually blockade the island.
They have the island surrounded. This could easily turn into a blockade.