back to article US think tank says China would probably lose if it tries to invade Taiwan

Three years from now, hypothetically, China launches an amphibious invasion of Taiwan. It does not go well, according to a top Washington think tank report. While the Taiwanese military is able to prevent initial invaders moving beyond beachheads, US Naval forces and aerial bombardments quickly cripple the Chinese naval fleet …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The USA and Eu drop the mother of all sanctions on China.

    India hates China so there is nobody left to trade with China that is too big for the USA to bully.

    So China has no food or fuel imports (assuming in 3years Russia is not going to be in a state to build trans-siberian pipelines)

    Their economy is reduced to selling knock-off iPhones to N. Korea and Venezuela. Time to re-educate all those Foxcon workers to be rice farmers.

    Meanwhile the USA has a large domestic supply of Chinese citizens, once these have donated all their worldy goods to the US war effort before being relocated to the new holiday camps - you could even make a profit on it. You might not even have to intern all the US born ones this time.

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Economics

      This is my thinking too. China have seen what happened to Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. The "West" rallied around and cut all trade.

      It hasn't totally crippled Russia, as they can still trade with China, but China? Their economy is incredibly reliant on the west. If they were to take Taiwan, it would be a very short-lived victory, as the west would reorganise its supply chains, and China would no longer be the economic powerhouse it is today. It'd be USSR -> Russia all over again.

      Taking TSMC would be almost pointless - what western government would continue to buy from a company that had been taken this way? We're already investing in more chip manufacturing capability in the USA and Europe, that would simply be increased further. Short term pain for long term gain.

      It isn't the USA's military holding China back from invading Taiwan. It is the economic consequences.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Economics

        >It hasn't totally crippled Russia, as they can still trade with China, but China? Their economy is incredibly reliant on the west.

        Russia has also been a lot more self-sufficient and people used to it being a bit shit. Things maybe got a bit better after the USSR, at least for people in Moscow/St Petersburg, then maybe got a bit worse recently. And Russians are used to this - as long as the Vodka lasts.

        China went from peasants, to mass starvation, to things getting a bit better, to things getting a lot better - if you could move to the coastal cities.

        If you are the great leader responsible for millions of people going from owning nice cars and knock-off luxury handbags back to being peasants you are going to need a really good security force.

    2. indotantra

      Re: Economics

      A war over Taiwan could leave a victorious US military in as crippled a state as the Chinese forces it defeated.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Screen rights?

    > That's how a US-China war over Taiwan would play out

    At least, that's how it would play out if the americans made a TV drama / military ra-ra, series about the possibility.

    However, in real life I doubt that things would be that dramatic¹. Other sources see more nuanced approaches than a head-to-head military strike.

    The chinese like to play the long game. To move slowly over years or decades, rather than a wham-bam, it it moves: shoot it style more in keeping with cheesy hollywood productions.

    Although part of their strategy is to build up their own, domestic, semiconductor industries. While they lag behind what is available in Taiwan now, the long game might have them passing other countries technology in due course.

    But where's the action-thriller in that?

    [1] Although a couple of years ago the american military reckoned an attack could come as early as January 2024

    1. John Hawkins

      Re: Screen rights?

      > The chinese like to play the long game

      This doesn't look like the long game to me - the long game is the Chinese stopping wasting resources being aggressive and instead building up their economy so that the Taiwanese decide they'd quite like to be part of China after all. To get there the Chinese will need to be a little less up-tight about freedom as well, so that issue will solve itself along the way.

      The Chinese in the current scenario are acting like a short-term thinking Western country rather than a country with a multiple thousand year history.

      1. Blazde Silver badge

        Re: Screen rights?

        The thorn in the side of China's long term strategy right now is Xi. He's become a classic short-term-ist dictator, always looking for the next consolidation of power, or to eliminate the next perceived threat. In many ways he's a gift to the liberal democratic world, alerting everyone to the dangers the People's Republic could pose before those dangers blindside them when they were expecting reforms would pave an inevitable path towards freedom, democracy and hugs.

        If there is anyone in the upper echelons of the CCP playing the long game they'll be the ones preparing to oust Xi just before he pulls the trigger on a Taiwan invasion in some misjudged opportunist moment. Something that failed to happen with Putin before he blundered into Ukraine.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Screen rights?

        > The Chinese in the current scenario are acting like a short-term thinking Western country rather than a country with a multiple thousand year history.

        That's because it doesn't have a multiple-thousand year history. The Peoples' Republic of China was founded in 1949, and in that time CCP executed an explicit policy of eradicating all pre-CCP Chinese culture (see: "the four olds") and replacing it with Maoism.

        These days, the direct continuation of the multiple-thousand year Chinese history and culture is found pretty much only in Taiwan.

    2. fg_swe Bronze badge

      Korea ?

      In Korea they were very much willing to hit massively and hard.

  3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Alternative Scenario

    Putin sells the kompromat to Xi. With Russian and Chinese help, Trump wins 2nd term. USA doesn't get involved - so no one else does. Taiwan falls to China in a few weeks.

    1. fg_swe Bronze badge

      Re: Alternative Scenario

      Can I have this with some Golden Showers and more high quality stuff by Mr Steele ?

  4. fg_swe Bronze badge

    Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

    Given that both sides have had serious damage and horrible death counts; given that both sides have rational arguments (Ukraine: self-determination; Russia: strategic security) it is time to look for a Korea-style solution.

    Freeze the war at the current frontline.

    The alternative is a deadly idealism, a continuation of the meatgrinder.

    Was it Mrs NULAND or was it Mr PUTIN ? Nobody really knows anymore.

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

      Solution implies that the situation with Korea is solved. It definitely isn't. Its just paused. North Korea is a thorn in the world's side, and it is only a matter of time before hostilities resume again.

      Doing the same in Ukraine would not be a solution either.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. localzuk Silver badge

          Re: Really ?

          North Korea has about 8500 pieces of artillery pointed at South Korea, most within range of Seoul. They supposedly have nukes now too.

          They have a million active military personnel and half a million reserves.

          They could effectively destroy the capital of South Korea with a handful of volleys from their artillery.

          1. fg_swe Bronze badge


            After that, the Dear Leader and his Generals will have all their nice villas wiped out, the airforce destroyed, all surface ships sunk and so on. His huge army with outdated cr4ap will be hammered into pieces in three weeks.

            If they dare to use nukes, well, the Americans have thousands, all of them well tested all round.

            1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: Sure

              You're assuming that if NK nukes SK that we will nuke NK. Interesting theory. Not buying it.

              I doubt any president after Reagan would actually order the strike.

            2. localzuk Silver badge

              Re: Sure

              When you're basically an insane dictator, you don't necessarily think about the consequences of your actions to anyone but yourself. Particularly as you are likely to be ensconced in a nice deep bunker somewhere.

              In reality, the damage done by the initial volley of fire from NK would be devastating to SK. NK would face a extremely robust response, yes, but that doesn't discount that initial damage done.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Really ?

            Russia supposedly had a highly effective million man army. How's that working for them?

            I would imagine there's some serious incompetence in the Nork forces with what they consider "special forces" barely up to Western grunt levels.

            I'd also be surprised if any of them really wanted to fight a war. See Russia for precedent on this.

    2. parlei

      Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

      Ahh, let the invading aggressor keep what he has take so far, in return for a vague promise not to come back for more later. That is kind of what happened with Crimea, and we all know how well that worked out. Brilliant plan, Mr Putin-Stoge-Troll.

      1. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

        Its also what we all did when Germany annexed the Sudetenland. That didn't go well either.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

          Germany didn't have nukes though.

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

      What part of your country would you be willing to give up? Especially when it looks like your side has the best toys and long term chances of winning.

      1. fg_swe Bronze badge

        Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

        It looks like Ukraine can't win without direct NATO support. The fortunes of war are very hard to predict.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

          Your point being?

          Should NATO have waited for Russia to invade all non members until they felt in a strong enough position to start directly hitting NATO members? Or do you believe Russia's intentions were only about Ukraine - and that Ukraine doesn't deserve to be free from their giant neighbour's grip?

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

            Doesn't NATO claim to be purely a defensive alliance?

          2. fg_swe Bronze badge


            The question of "who belongs Ukraine to" was an open question a long time ago. It could have been answered by "neutral like Finland." But diplomacy failed to make this happen, so the weapons make the decision.

            From the Russian POV, there are three empires: Moscow, Anglosaxon(from Seoul to Vilnus), Beijing. The Moscovites see the Anglosaxon empire encroaching on theirs and they felt a need to make the expansion stop, as talking yielded nothing substantial.

            We now have the fire burning, how to turn it off ?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Neutrality

              Your English is slipping again, slow down a little :)

              Freak out about it as much as you want, but nobody forced Russia to invade, and nobody cares much about Russia whining about it's reasons or interests. It tried to install a series of puppet governments and failed. Then it invaded, and the west tried appeasement. That failed, so now, yes the NATO block and most of the rest of Russia's neighbors are now invested in the conflict for the long haul.

              What Russia thinks of it's ambitions to empire aren't as important. It's their own fault for buying into ideas so radically out of alignment with how the world works and what the great nations of the world thing about themselves. And the rest of the world you left out has plenty of weight to throw around. That outdated, myopic, and nationalistic lens is creating blind spots large enough to fit India and Saudi Arabia in.

              How does it end? Like every other unwinnable war, Russia will decide on it's own when it gives up and cuts it losses, or it will end itself in a fruitless endeavor. The west isn't backing down this time, so the fire goes out when the Russians leave, and then they still have to live with the long term consequences. Or they off Putin and hit the reset button on the government, but my money is sadly on the outcome that is the worse for all parties where Putin clings to power and dies of old age. That's how this story usually ends after all.

              If this were chess, the game is already over, futile. The only hope Russia has is that a series of massive errors or unforeseeable circumstances reverse it's fortunes, which isn't a military strategy. Clinging to the conflict instead of ending it just digs a deeper grave for the nation. As are gestures Putin has made to keep his own nation in line like bombing his own oligarch's oil pipelines to keep them from cutting a profitable deal with the west to undercut him and the support for the war. The state department may not call it out directly, but were not blind. Just like when we saw the line of broken tanks being shipped back from the front before the most recent invasion, or that Russia knows that most of it's armor is obsolete and is sending it in unsupported in part because it and the crews are cannon fodder. Those tanks have so value on the foreign market anymore, and will be even more useless in future conflicts, so if you have no regard for lives of your own troops, why not send them to the slaughter and let them rust in a foreign land? ( as some would say we are cynically doing with the Bradley)

              Or they go nuclear and maximally accelerate the process of losing. Of course no one in the conflict wins there either, but Russia loses the hardest of all. Russia stuck it's head in a vice, and the rest of the world has little reason to let off the pressure till that head pops. One turn of the screw after the next.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Neutrality

              Maybe the Russians should be asking themselves WHY their ex-vassal states and near neighbours want to be part of the EU and/or NATO instead of being friends with Russia? Russia's only really allies seem to be ex-vassal states (and a very few others) who currently have de-facto dictators in charge.

            3. Erik Beall

              Re: Neutrality

              Bullshit. There are documented instances of Putin telling Western leaders he had no problem at all with NATO expansion twenty years ago and he'd then turn around and in Russian media he'd speak obliquely of the threat of NATO expansion. This was not about Russia vs NATO expansion, it's about a KGB take over of the sovereign nation of Russia. Twenty years ago people like Khodorkovsky were trying to reform and rebuild a working society and Putin got rid of them all. Thanks to years of Russian media saying this is about defending the motherland for the last decade and a half, it's become a self fulfilling prophecy, which he can now exploit without as much active cultivation (but plenty of internal suppression of dissenting views from those who remember things playing out a little differently).

          3. fg_swe Bronze badge

            Escalation ?

            Of course we could escalate:

            1.) Take out critical infrastructure deep in Russia, using cruise missiles, stealth.

            1.2) Sea blockade of Russia; serious sinking of Russian surface fleet. Submarines must be dealt with, too.

            2.) Fight a nasty infantery/tank/missile war in Poland, Baltics

            2.2) Conscript men in England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, USA, Canada to get the required manpower vis a vis Russia's conscription

            3.) Absorb quite a few cruise missile hits on London, Berlin, Warsaw and maybe even Paris.

            In other words, not as convenient as our childish warmongers want it.

            Do YOU want to be conscripted as a MILAN anti tank gunner ? We have would have 200 000 openings TOMORROW.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Escalation ?

              No escalation is required. Russia is bleeding manpower, equipment, and the patience of Xi by the day.

              1. fg_swe Bronze badge

                Russian Army Numbers

                Russia has a population in the order of 140 millions. For simplicity we assume a similar age structure in NATO.

                If they do all out conscription, then Ukraine and Poland don't have sufficient manpower. At least England and Germany would have to start conscription, too. Sweden and Finland will be happy to defend themselves.

                Maybe this must be done, I dont have a crystal ball, either.

                And this time we will not make an exception. Draft the journalists and bureaucrats first, they are typically the worst warmongers. Those who claim disabilities must serve in command centers/logistic centers/arms dumps, always ready to take a CM or ballistic hit. Age 18..60, no exceptions.

                1. localzuk Silver badge

                  Re: Russian Army Numbers

                  Conscripting more people is pointless for Russia. They can't equip the soldiers they've already conscripted. What're they going to arm them with, sticks?

                  1. Binraider Silver badge

                    Re: Russian Army Numbers

                    See Stalingrad. Pick up the rifle of fallen comrades and take over.

                2. cray74

                  Re: Russian Army Numbers

                  If they do all out conscription, then Ukraine and Poland don't have sufficient manpower. At least England and Germany would have to start conscription, too. Sweden and Finland will be happy to defend themselves.

                  Ukraine has demonstrated that it has sufficient manpower to halt Russia. A trickle of NATO aid is enabling the Ukraine to recover land.

                  From a year's worth of observations, conscription isn't necessary for the West if the war broadens and Russia sends millions of barely-equipped conscripts into Poland. Maybe an expansion of munition production would help.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Escalating losses

              Russia loses even faster in any broad escalation directly with NATO. And the option of ending the conflict by leaving Ukraine and eating sanctions are reparations also gets removed from the table.

              Attacks directly on NATO territory or forces mean NATO directly engages Russian and Russian forces, assets, and civilian infrastructure at home and abroad. They probably won't invade or occupy, because why would we want what's going to be left of their infrastructure, but losing the Russian naval and civilian fleets, ports, and rail arteries will not be a good trade, and Russia has already set the bar with sustained mass attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.

              Yes, the west will try to win without breaking their own rules up to a point, but look at how long those scruples lasted in other conflicts if they aren't winning. If Russia escalates the conflict to the point it attacks and credibly threatens NATO directly, those gloves won't stay on long. The tolerance of the coalition against Russia to look the other way as some of it's neighbors ignore sanctions etc also won't last. So Russia's is choosing between bleeding slowly or bleeding quickly.

              Sadly drawing out this conflict maximizes the human toll, but now that the die is cast, there is no reason for the rest of the world to stop if modern Russia is willing to commit suicide in a blunder of a scale not seen since the tzars.

        2. Triggerfish

          Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

          Except they do have NATO support and training, and NATO will quite likely happily play the great game. Getting rid of their old end of life we needed to destroy it soon anyway stocks, cherfully assesing their weapons againts the scenarios they built them for, and chewing up the very threat they pretty much came together for in the first place.Why stop bankrolling that?

          You didnt mention what part of your country you'd give up.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

          It looks like Ukraine can't win without direct NATO support.

          NATO sees an opportunity to take the moral high ground and set back Russia by at least 30 years, why wouldn't they support Ukraine?

    4. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

      "given that both sides have rational arguments" Don't be daft and stop believing RT

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Ukraine: Korea-Style Settlement

      Nobody really knows anymore.

      Nobody who has the memory span of a goldfish, no.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    might question whether the sacrifice had been worth

    because, as we learn from history, over and over again: "I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep"

    1. fg_swe Bronze badge

      Not Comparable

      If Russia were to ever face all of NATO, it would be very asymmetrical. Russia already showed the Nuclear Card around because they know their weakness. Unlike Hitler, Putin has not inherited an industrial powerhouse. The difference in industrial power is easily 20x or more. That is, if you can quantify the technological gap in many technologies.

      The main "weapons" of Russia are propaganda and cojones. That won't help against mass attacks of cruise missiles and state of the art electronic warfare. It won't help against a VW factory which is converted to low cost drones.

      Cojones, we have, too.

      Regarding the "burn down the world" utterings, we should strongly request the Moscovites to put the dear leader into hospital for six weeks. Or does Moscow really want to commit suicide ?

  6. Binraider Silver badge

    Thing is, most of the globalised economy dies in this scenario and has to be re-invented; and there are "no winners", least of all China. Though try telling President Xi that.

    If China starts expanding it's CCGT power generation at an unusually high rate that is probably the strongest sign of concern they are prepared to chop of their arm to try this scenario on (because Ruzzia has fuel to sell - and China could no longer count on imports from the West or western aligned interests).

    From a standpoint of wargaming; GMT Games "Next War" series has coverage of Taiwan. While not the best game in the series (because of all the naval warfare - and board games never really do that subject much justice), it does it's job of illustrating the problems. A surprise strike on US carriers in the region while simultaneously launching the invasion is probably the most effective way to approach the opening moves of this scenario - an incredibly risky and non-guaranteed move. One that only buys so much time, too, for the US has other carriers to draw on even if they take a while to get on station.

    China's navy is still relatively small but can concentrate on one theatre. It's also has some very (on paper) good ships and systems available to it. USN is looking a bit vulnerable at the moment, with screwups like the LCS, and the now rather old Ticonderoga and Arleigh Burke doing the heavy lifting. Submarines are of course the USN ace in the hole; China has nothing remotely as capable on that front.

    As much as the boardgames are fun problems to analyse, let's keep it on paper, no?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      As much as the boardgames are fun problems to analyse, let's keep it on paper, no?

      Let us all hope so. Whoever "wins" only really gets their ego reinforced, those on the ground and world wide all suffer. There are no real winners in any such aggressive move and if Ukraine has shown the world anything, it is how badly such an on-paper easy move can go. Let us hope the Xi sees this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The winners would be those that become the new investment hubs after the breakup

      None of the parties in the actual conflict are likely to "win" anything. Most of the rest of the world just looses due to the economic losses.

      The money will seek to recreate new structures and markets though. China's position as the worlds supplier is unsustainable, and will certainly crash after a head to head conflict with the world powers. So the centers for world production will likely move, and likely be less centralized.

      The a big part game being played is to contain China's expansionist ambitions by making it cost more to play then the game pays out. Sadly, Xi has motivations that don't answer to game theory or economic ends, and he will by definition make moves that benefit him personally at the expense of China and the world. So this conflict may be triggered if his back is to the wall because of other issues.

      That is true of Iran and so many other places due to the proliferation of tyrants and strong men, and why the recent decadal shift in political maneuvering by China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia etc to turn India,Turkey, the mideast, Africa, and South America into dictatorships is so troubling. The IMF and globalization were no picnic, but what they are building is pure Orwell/Kafka.

  7. Ball boy Silver badge

    That may well be the military analysis but it's a great deal more nuanced in reality: to more accurately assess the realistic response to a Chinese attack on Taiwan, we would need to know how the American population would respond (and the other Western populations). Given we're likely to be up to our necks in Ukraine still, would there really be much support for a leading role in a war in the Far East? With a weakened American President and the GOP looking like they're gathering momentum again, there's a very realistic chance of the country deciding they don't particularly want to get involved too much (there will be cries of 'look at the past history of US involvement in the East').

    Then there's the financial situation: meaningful embargoes on China would be next to impossible for now: we import so much from them that there's no way the west could possibly re-engineer supply chains in such a short time frame; there'd be massive inflationary pressure that would hit pretty much every aspect of modern life and quickly impact the lives of voting citizens.

    By far the most logical approach for a government to take, surely, would be to concede that Taiwan is 'only' important to the west because of the chip manufacturing it supports and it would follow that reducing that dependence is, by far, the cheaper and less politically risky strategy. Yes, it throws Taiwan to the wolves - but since when has that ever kept a politician awake at night? (cf. Middle East, Europe after WWII - and WWI - and most of Africa for time immemorial).

    This think tank is simply a public display for the benefit of the Chinese. They're aware of the strength of the Chinese, their show of muscle with recent rocket launches and the west can't respond in kind. Writing up a 'we have a plan' paper is a more diplomatic way of showing the west's support.

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      The Roosevelts made their family fortune in the China trade. It was one of the major drivers for why US policies in the early half of the 20th century evolved as they did.

      At the time, the "romantic" view of the economic value of China was high, but less so the practical one. Today, the practical value is enormous; and antipathy to "foreign workers taking ones jobs" high for obvious reasons.

      It's strange how the tides turn, but this is capitalism. If you want cheap labour, you probably don't look at home.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Missed the intent of the authors probably

      Both the US and China know this, and have been running these wargames on both sides since the founding of modern China. The point of this is more likely that the non-state interests that made this public report are trying to stave off a hot war with China for as long as possible.

      The cold war with China is well under way, and the war over Taiwan's semiconductors are only the latest round. The sanctions and embargoes have already started, but are unlikely to become total outside a hot, non-proxy war. Unlike the current conflict with Russia, the rest of the world can't "win" a full economic war with china without taking punitive losses. Which brings us again to the point of that paper, which is to point out the fact that it isn't in the power of either China or it's adversaries to keep the conflict from becoming a choice of massive loss or pyrrhic victory with massive losses, and no real certainty about which side of the loser line they are on.

      China's only near term lines to an actual victory was to embroil the US in other conflicts so deeply we couldn't answer the threat, or engineer a US government who's leadership could be bought off individually to avert a broader conflict. So far that has failed on both fronts, and China has cost itself international goodwill and credibility on the global scale by rushing it's own expansionist ambitions. So now it can no longer count on splitting enough of the world away from the US/EU to break either of them, and most of it's neighbors are as nervous as Russia.

      Also years of dumping toxic products and exploiting Africa has soured the inroads they had made in the earlier phase of the Belt and Road initiative. To many countries have seen the mask slip and realized that China's ambitions are just as self serving as the WTO's but usually come with a local strong man attached to a boot on the locals necks.

      So the real question is if Xi's China will make the same mistake as Putin by rolling the dice on an invasion that will in all likelihood end in them loosing more than they can realistically gain. The window for that play is realistically while we are at least partially tied up with Russia, as China already let the genie out of the bottle. By that I mean that the US and parts of the rest of the world have picked sides, and started disentangling their interests and economies with China. That is a permanent long term shift in all likelihood, as to succeed China becomes primarily a competitor/adversary not a supplier. The investments to raise new, less concentrated, manufacturing centers outside China's reach are significant and will take time, but once started there is more incentive to see it through than to normalize trade and economic co-operation with an unreliable partner or likely adversary.

      China already started making those moves on it's side, investing in other markets and reducing it's dependency on the west. The west is following suit, but so are other neighbors like India.

  8. Hazzabeano
    Big Brother

    Last of the autocrats?

    Maybe/hopefully we're witnessing the death throes of the autocracies, I can't see the next generations tolerating them, but these things never come to pass lightly and I worry about us cornering rabid dogs and the consequences we might suffer - nuclear or otherwise. The world is changing fast and this decade is going to be one to remember, that's for sure.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Last of the autocrats?

      Dream on, sweet prince. We've been through some version of this MANY times in the last few centuries.

  9. Black Label1
    Black Helicopters

    Dangerous wargames

    "US Naval forces and aerial bombardments quickly cripple the Chinese naval fleet, aided by strikes from the Japan Self-Defense Force"

    Two nuclear powers in a direct confrontation? A dangerous wargame this is.

    A LOT of people still want to live on earth.

  10. DS999 Silver badge

    I don't get all the fervor over a Chinese military attack on Taiwan

    They view the Taiwanese people as being the same as themselves, so one has to look at this as a civil war not a war of conquest as it is always portrayed. They aren't going to want to end up with a lot of dead Taiwanese with those left alive hating the people and government of mainland China for generations. Having to maintain Taiwan under permanent military oversight is not the endgame they seek.

    What China really excels at are long range plans. The US and most of the west struggles to look further ahead than the next election, while China makes plans covering decades and sticks to them long enough to successfully execute them.

    So what China would do is infiltrate Taiwan's government, business and media world and try to slowly swing public opinion towards the idea of reunification. Even if that takes decades. Now whether that's possible is another matter, but that would clearly be their preference. The biggest obstacle is that the more authoritarian China gets, the less desire the people of Taiwan will have for that outcome. The example of Hong Kong was a disaster for China as far as getting Taiwan to willingly return to the fold. If they would have allowed it to remain quasi independent and still "Hong Kong" even today there would be a lot more people in Taiwan willing to consider reunification.

    China's increasing tilt towards authoritarianism also risks that the mainland people sent over to infiltrate 'go native' and prefer living under the Taiwanese system so they don't even try to fulfill the objectives assigned to them.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I don't get all the fervor over a Chinese military attack on Taiwan

      The long game only works if the people in power are happy to not be the ones remembered and immortalised by history for bringing about the stated aim. Xi seems to be one of those wanting the personal glory rather than glory for the country as a whole. Why else change the law to stay in power?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fervor and China

      Your conclusions seem off. China's patience under the current government is hardly inexhaustible, and Xi's made dozens of ham-fisted moves at large scales since he started to consolidate power.

      You are right that the recent actions in Hong Kong aren't going to make the Taiwanese likely to expect they have a future after a PRC invasion. You also glossed over the literal genocide, and the fact that China seems to have no plans to let the Taiwanese remain in Taiwan. Xi doen't have to win over their government or people if his plan it repeat the pattern of ethnic cleansing his has inflicted on any region or ethic group that challenges the supremacy of his government.

      So I expect that he has little concern if the invasion drives the population of Taiwan into the sea. He will be sending the same human wave of Han settlers to occupy the islands and erase the memory of it's former occupants. Which is why they aren't likely to social engineer a change in government, because as you point out Hong Kong proved they will break any promise of long term peace or inclusion.

      But like I said, the myth of the 1000 year empire and it's schemes are dispelled by the actions of a decades old government that has moved from dictatorship under it's founder back to the same. A man who has no patience for the long game played by his predecessors, and is likely to bring the end to era of success and prestige the nation has struggled to build. So like Russia, if he forces an invasion of Taiwan Xi will turn the nations it neighbors and the world against it, alienating those that would have gladly been it's allies were it not for what it has seen China do to those it devours.

      China has a hunger that cannot be simply appeased. Feeding Taiwan to Xi's China will only make the danger grow, and let it devour larger prey once it is done digesting.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Fervor and China

        They can't do "ethnic cleansing" in Taiwan. The people living there aren't a different ethnicity.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Fervor and China

          Tell that to the Irish.

  11. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Taiwan is not Ukraine

    Yes, there are important parallels. But also critical differences.

    To me, there are several major choices the Chinese face in an invasion scenario. The first, and most critical, is if they assume full & immediate US involvement, or if they try to minimize it. All this talk about the US being involved elsewhere only really matters if they try to minimize the US involvement.

    There are two ways to minimize involvement. The first is to avoid damaging US assets. The other is to hit us early & hard enough that we cannot respond until the ground war has been "won". I don't believe for a minute that our carriers are safe. Not just against nukes (which at sea are a MUCH lower issue than a nuke against a mainland), but also against hypersonic torpedoes. Suppose they open by sinking all carriers not in port or in the Atlantic, and wiping out all non-geostationary satellites + all g-s sats on that side of the globe? Couple with a massive invasion.

    Yes, the US would be outraged in such a scenario. But what responses would we have? Non-nuke long range bombing is of extremely limited value except as a prelude to ground invasion. (And our refueling capability is 40 years old or so.) And I don't think we can protect our ships for an invasion. Again, I have a hard time seeing any president after Reagan nuking China. I really expect the response to be little more than sanctions.

    Of course, there is that "massive invasion" to implement. And we have subs too. But do they attack in international waters before war is declared?

    We need to have as much in Taiwan today as we had in Germany in 1980. Make it certain that if they invade Taiwan, we go nuclear.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. indotantra

    To what extent do they launch attacks in international waters before a formal declaration of war?

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