go through Major General SB Asthana
Xi has tried to hide his humiliation of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. He was embarrassed by his premature and unwarranted warning of a visit to the United States, and Pelosi’s deliberate visit after the warning not only hyped, but humiliated him. China is using its “three wars” concept of public opinion warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare, as well as aggressive military posturing, air aggression, displays of firepower and some symbolic economic boycott of Taiwan to create tension around Taiwan to This is a face-lifting exercise to please domestic voters. China is trying to use this as an opportunity to inflame national sentiment in support of Xi Jinping on an “anti-American” theme, highlighting China’s mutilated heroics to ensure he does not lose his third term at the 20th National Congress China Communist Party (CCP) later this year.
The United States is also under similar pressure. With the announcement of Pelosi’s visit to China and the heated debate between President Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, the United States is in a bind. The U.S. was unable to cancel the trip in response to Xi’s warning, as doing so showed Joe Biden was bowing to Chinese pressure. This would be catastrophic for a Biden administration, which is already struggling to recover from the hardships of the Afghan disaster and the Russia-Ukraine war. Although the visit was a risky move, it was unclear whether the United States would follow suit, replacing strategic ambiguity with strategic clarity to support Taiwan in responding to any potential Chinese attack.
Will it lead to war?
Due to China’s unprecedented military posture, the east of Taiwan is close to the coastline, and the US aircraft carrier and maritime forces are not far away, and the situation is tense and prone to accidental escalation. China’s invasion of Taiwan doesn’t make any strategic sense, with all the negatives aside from bluffing, there is a high possibility of global and domestic disgrace in case the action fails; therefore, it may be countered by activities other than war.
Qiao Liang, a retired PLA Air Force major general and Chinese strategist, warned that taking Taiwan by force was “too high.” China’s red line of “nuclearizing Taiwan/declaring independence” has not been crossed, and there is no reason for China to cross the red line of “changing the status quo by force” by the United States.
Before finishing his third term, Xi may find such a risk too costly. Taiwan and the United States have also conducted military exercises near Taiwan in the past, and the well-known military exercise to block Taiwan, if prolonged, may also invite the United States and other democracies to conduct similar military exercises in the Strait of Malacca to block Chinese maritime traffic. line, beyond the optical realm of the current Chinese aggressive posture, and is well aware of this loophole.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen made bold statements during Speaker Pelosi’s visit to China and earlier on China’s aggression. With its national ethos, U.S. modern arsenal, staunch armed forces, and U.S. support, Taiwan is unlikely to be defeated, although the first onslaught of a potential offensive must be borne by it until a global response kicks in. Comparisons are being made with Hong Kong, but the main difference is that Hong Kong’s leadership, hierarchy, and police are manipulated by the CCP, while Taiwan’s leadership is strong and resolutely refuses to succumb to Chinese coercion. The need for amphibious assault due to terrain friction makes China’s misfortune in Taiwan harder than in Hong Kong.
China’s amphibious capability to seize Taiwan is questionable, especially if U.S. warships like the USS Ronald Reagan are nearby. China has enough missile arsenal to destroy Taiwan, but destroying the Han Chinese on such a massive scale (95% of Taiwan’s population is Han) has ties, investments and inseparable ties with relatives on the mainland and vice versa, not with the domestic population Get along well with mainlanders. More than 2 million Taiwanese live in mainland China, mostly in coastal areas, and more than 20 percent are married in mainland China.
It will also destroy the economies of China and Taiwan, which is not suitable for the Chinese leadership’s efforts to revive the economy damaged by the trade war, the failure of the BRI and the effects of COVID-19. China is the largest destination for Taiwan’s exports, accounting for about 40% of total exports, and Taiwan’s trade surplus with China in 2021 will total $104.7 billion.
The 2020 Taiwan polls show that 73% of people who identify as Taiwanese oppose China and 77% support the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, a number that has increased over the past two years. Putting Taiwanese under its wing would also unleash a new wave of democracy in China that the CCP may not be able to handle.
The Taiwanese people’s unwillingness to sacrifice democracy, freedom and prosperity is the main reason for President Tsai’s success. If imposed by China, the conflict would be deadly, and the Chinese who want to win without a fight are not known for their willingness to accept Han body bags because the cause does not bring them economic benefits, and It was to deprive them of their dream of national revival, as General Joe said.
Why is Taiwan a US-China issue?
China may continue to claim Taiwan as its domestic problem, but its external dimension is much larger. Diplomatically, the United States may claim to pursue a “one China policy”, but it treats Taiwan as much as an ally. One indication is the Taiwan Allied International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act of 2019, which came into effect on March 26, 2020. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1973, the Taiwan Travel Act signed in 2019 and the National Defense Authorization Act signed earlier this year to facilitate the sale of state-of-the-art weapons and joint exercises justify this statement. The United States will always prefer trade and strategic cooperation with a democratic Taiwan uninfluenced by Beijing, rather than Taiwan under the Chinese Communist Party.
In any potential invasion of Taiwan, due to its geographic proximity, the spillover of combat space to Japan, an ally the United States is obligated to protect, is evident. China’s initial offensive could be on Taiwan, but the United States could join forces with allies in the region to use its sea and air superiority to cut off Beijing’s maritime lifelines in and around the South China Sea. China’s supply lines outside the 9-fold line are still vulnerable, which will pull the PLA to fight outside its comfort zone. Therefore, attacking Taiwan by force involves mobilizing all of its combat resources, and is expected to escalate from limited war to full-scale war, because the action is tantamount to crossing the US red line of “the status quo in Taiwan remains unchanged.” Economically, China’s heavy reliance on the U.S. dollar is far from over, and such a war against Taiwan would deal a huge economic blow to China, which would result in an influx of capital and businesses moving out of the country much faster than thought.
the way forward
If China’s aggressive stance, air incursions and announcement of a four-day military exercise end as scheduled without escalation, the situation could still be under control, as the United States and Taiwan also conducted military exercises in the region earlier. If it escalates to force the unification of Taiwan, it will definitely up the ante with the United States, proving that China is an irresponsible bully, possibly leading to the death of the Han Chinese in both directions, and causing the economic collapse of one of its largest investors to jeopardize the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Internationally, China may have misjudged the determination of the United States and the resistance of Taiwan, and neither may have their wish. If China’s ambitions exceed global tolerance, it has the opportunity to turn the rest of the world against China. While Nancy Pelosi’s visit may have sent a strong message to China, U.S. resolve is still being tested, as Taiwan cannot be expected to deal with Chinese aggression alone, especially if it is contested by superpowers for hype. Therefore, the United States must consider starting similar military exercises with other navies in the Malacca Strait to remind China of its vulnerable SLOC before China begins to block shipping from Taiwan.
Even if the current crisis slows, aggressive postures in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, and the East China Sea will continue. The purpose of the People’s Republic of China is to put pressure on President Tsai not to declare independence, to continue the pressure, hoping that the DPP will lose in the next elections and make favorable arrangements with the opposition that may benefit China. Neither China nor the United States wants to go to war, but neither wants to give in, so this strategic game and posture is and will continue.
Maj Gen SB Asthana is a veteran infantry general with 40 years of experience in domestic and different international fields. The views expressed are the personal views of the author.The author can be reached on Twitter @asthana_shashi