The US can’t fight China for Taiwan, but it can help Taiwan make China think twice about starting a war

Taiwan ‘s President Tsai Ing-wen has said the island will not bow to Chinese pressure.

 

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that US Special Forces and Marines had secretly been training Taiwanese troops on counter-invasion tactics.

 

On Friday, the semi-official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, the Global Times, warned the presence of US troops in Taiwan will accelerate “preparations for military actions” and that once “war breaks out in the Taiwan Straits, those US. Military personnel will be the first to be eliminated.”

 

In combination with the recent increase in the number of Chinese warplanes flying into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, this latest development continues a trend of rising tensions between the United States and China over the flashpoint of Taiwan.

 

“As I have previously written in these pages, there is virtually no scenario in which the US fights a war with China that we don’t come out severely harmed; in a worst-case scenario, we stumble into a catastrophic nuclear conflict.” Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the US Army who deployed into combat zones four times, wrote for Business Insider.



Before a crisis is thrust upon us, there is a clear imperative for the White House to consider the ramifications of being drawn into an unwinnable war. Of even greater importance, the US should identify non-kinetic means to protect our country, its security, and future prosperity in the event of a Taiwan crisis.

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Fortunately, there are viable alternatives to war that could see our security strengthened vis-à-vis China. Unfortunately, few in Washington are interested in these more prudent solutions.”

 

Secretary of the Navy Carols Del Toro gave a lecture to the midshipmen of the Naval Academy on Tuesday in which he said it is the Navy’s “ultimate responsibility to deter [China] from what they’re trying to accomplish, including taking over Taiwan.”

 

The secretary is essentially seeking to make the US armed forces the de facto security force for Taiwan. Under no circumstances should that aspiration become US policy.

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Del Toro isn’t the only one who thinks we should commit to defending Taiwan, however, as a growing chorus of leading voices call for just such a policy change.

 

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler cosponsored the Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act which would authorize “the president to use military force to defend Taiwan against a direct attack.” Such provocation would make war more, not less, likely. Meanwhile, the promise of US protection would perversely incentivize Taiwan to do less for its own security.

 

My colleague at Defense Priorities, policy director Benjamin Friedman, argued on Thursday that instead of leading Taiwanese authorities to believe the United States will fight China on their behalf, Washington “should push Taiwan to invest more in its self-defense capacity – especially radar and mobile anti-ship and anti-air missiles, which makes an amphibious attack on the island more costly.”



America’s overwhelming imperative in the Indo-Pacific must be to avoid unnecessary war with China and the preservation of American security and economic prosperity. Both would be seriously harmed by a war with China.”

 

The best way to deter China from attack is to encourage Taiwan to invest in its own defense and acquire in the kinds of defensive weapons and training that will impose the most severe pain on China should Beijing ever resort to force.

 

We must be candid and blunt, however, and acknowledge that a time may come when China will not be deterred, and attack Taiwan no matter how great a price they must pay. In the event Beijing does choose that destructive path, it is imperative that the United States not compound a bad situation by being drawn into a no-win war with China.”

 

Choosing to fight a war out of pride or an understandable affinity for democratic ideals will harm our military greatly, likely not prevent Taiwan’s capture, and take us decades to recover from the military losses; in the worst case, things could spiral out of control and result in a nuclear exchange.”

 

In short, we have everything to lose and nothing to gain from fighting China – but much to gain by refusing to get drawn into the unwinnable war.”

 

If China attacks Taiwan, they will have an albatross around their neck for years to come – much as we did throughout the Vietnam War – as part of Taiwan’s defense strategy is to conduct indefinite guerilla warfare against the Chinese invaders. Even if China’s conventional attack goes well, they will still suffer considerable loss in warships, combat aircraft, and troops.”

 

The PLA would then be severely weakened, even if successful, and it would take upward of a decade to rebuild its strength to its pre-invasion level. Meanwhile, the task of convincing Europe and other Asian nations to join with us and band together for a balancing coalition would be much easier, complicating Beijing’s economic objectives for decades to come.”

 

I cannot more strongly reinforce this point: refusing to be drawn into a no-win war with China over Taiwan will see our comparative advantage over China increase dramatically. Their military would be seriously degraded from combat losses, while ours and all our allies would be at full strength.”



We should therefore do everything in our power to assist Taiwan in bolstering its self-defense capability, and encourage their political leadership to maintain the status quo.”

 

China wants eventual reunification with Taiwan, but Beijing overwhelmingly prefers to do so without the use of force. As long as the status quo is maintained – and if the cost to the PLA of an invasion is sufficiently high because Taiwan can defend itself – the chances of war across the Strait will remain low.”

 

Meanwhile, fighter jets paraded across Taiwan’s skies on Sunday (October 10) marking the island’s National Day.

 

Addressing a rally outside the presidential office in Taipei, leader Tsai Ing-wen continued to rebuff comments made by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who said he wanted to see a ‘peaceful reunification’ with Taiwan.

 

“We will continue to bolster our national defence and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us, a path that offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan.” Reuters reports.

 

China has long claimed Taiwan as its own territory with the island facing growing military and political pressure to accept Beijing’s rule.

 

That includes repeated Chinese air force missions in Taiwan’s airspace, which Tsai says has seriously affected national security and aviation safety.

 

China’s activities there have been condemned internationally.



Tsai’s speech comes a day after Xi vowed to realise China’s reunification with Taiwan.

 

Although he didn’t directly mention the use of force, his comments drew an angry backlash from Taipei.

 

Tsai said only Taiwan’s people can decide the future.

 

“We will not act rashly, but there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure.”

 

Though Taiwan has repeatedly called for talks with Beijing, it refuses to deal with her and instead has branded her a separatist.

 

She warned her people on Sunday, “We do not have the privilege of letting down our guard.”

 

China Denounces Taiwan President Tsai’s National Day Speech

Reacting, the Chinese government has denounced Taiwan’s national day speech, during which President Tsai Ing-wen said her government will not bow down to pressure from Beijing and will continue to bolster the island’s defences in order to protect its democratic way of life.

 

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Sunday that Tsai’s speech incited confrontation and distorted facts, adding that seeking Taiwan independence closes the door to dialogue. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province.

 

Tsai’s strong words on Sunday came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping promised once again to realise “peaceful reunification” with the self-ruled territory.

 

“No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s strong determination, will and capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi had said.

 

Speaking earlier on Sunday, Tsai said Taiwan will keep bolstering its defences to ensure nobody can force the island to accept the path China has laid down, offering neither freedom nor democracy, and repeated a call for talks with Beijing.

 

Taiwan has come under growing military and political pressure to accept Beijing’s rule, including repeated Chinese air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.



Speaking in central Taipei at the island’s national day celebrations, which included a rare show of Taiwanese defence capabilities, Tsai said her government will not “act rashly” but “there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure”.

 

The speech was followed by the parading of a range of weaponry, including missile launchers and armoured vehicles, while fighter jets and helicopters soared overhead.

 

The show of airpower was followed by a group of CM32 tanks and trucks carrying missile systems.Known formally as the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan is a democratically governed island that lies about 161km (100 miles) off the coast of mainland China.

 

China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory, although the island has been self-ruled since it split from the communist-ruled mainland in 1949 after a long civil war.

 

The 65-year-old President Tsai is considered a separatist by Beijing for her refusal to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of “one China”.



Tsai’s speech has been described as “defiant” and reflecting the “prevailing view in Taiwan at the moment, where the majority of the people are equally resistant to the increase in pressure from mainland China”.

 

Reunification with Taiwan has been the goal of Chinese presidents ever since the formation of the People’s Republic of China and Xi is determined to achieve this under his leadership. Beijing has pledged to bring the island under its control by military force if necessary.

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