Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Ready. Set. Go?

The Chinese will invade Taiwan.

As this article notes, the Chinese are getting ready:

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao urged greater development of China's military, saying modernizaton of the army was of strategic importance to safeguard the eventual reunification of Taiwan.

"Strengthening national defense and developing the army constitute a task of strategic importance to our modernization drive and an important guarantee for safeguarding national security and reunification," Wen said at the opening session of the annual National People's Congress (NPC).

Wen said it was an "historical objective" to ensure that the army "is capable of winning any war it fights," but also underscored the importance of the military being run "strictly in accordance with the law."

I've already written about the crash naval building program of China that seems clearly directed at an amphibious invasion and a naval interference operation to keep us away long enough to conquer Taiwan.

The Chinese are also getting set with a new anti-secession law that will provide their justification for naked aggression against a free people in a tiny country:

The proposed anti-secession law, read out for the first time before the ceremonial National People's Congress, does not specify what actions might invite a Chinese attack.

"If possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Wang Zhaoguo, deputy chairman of the congress' Standing Committee, told the nearly 3,000 members gathered in the Great Hall of the People.

Beijing claims Taiwan, which split from China since 1949, as part of its territory. The communist mainland repeatedly has threatened to invade if Taiwan tries to make its independence permanent, and the new law does not impose any new conditions or make new threats. But it lays out for the first time legal requirements for military action.

The only question is when China will go. I think it will be on the eve of the 2008 Peking summer Olympics. China will have the security issue to cover mobilization and movement of military units. And everybody will assume China is using the attention as a coming out party to highlight their advances and their place in the sun. I think swallowing Taiwan under the nose of US and Japanese protection will be even better to demonstrate their power. Why else go on a crash building program for naval units?

This article in the Taipei Times, however, thinks China will use the 2008 Olympics to whip up nationalism and then focus on absorbing Taiwan in the years that follow:

Some say that China's current focus is on economic development, and that it has no intention of further pressuring Taiwan. But as the communist government is unable to carry out domestic reform, heightened tension with the outside world is the best way to retain its hold on power.

What's more, China is feeling confident, and many specialists in Chinese strategy feel that if China could ride out the storm after the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989 when it was still weak, there is no reason to worry about the economic cost of a military attack on Taiwan now, when China is strong and Taiwan is weak.

The main target for Hu and his leadership is, however, the Beijing Olympics in 2008. But if the Olympics are concluded successfully, surging nationalist sentiment and strong economic confidence may well convince Hu to seek a resolution to the Taiwan issue before his term in power is over. The anti-secession law can therefore not be passively understood as an anti-independence law. Rather, it has to be understood as an aggressive measure aimed at actively resolving the Taiwan issue.

I think the Taiwanese are underestimating the urgency of the situation. I think the article is exactly right that the Chinese believe their power will compel enough of the world to shrug and get back to business with Peking to make the repercussions of taking a free Taiwan endurable.

Would we mass the Marine Corps to liberate Taiwan? China may not be the old Soviet Union, but they have some nukes that can reach the mainland--not to mention Guam, Alaska, and Hawaii. We have never had two major nuclear powers fight an extended war. Will we risk it? Should we?

The best way to avoid this is to make Taiwan strong enough to hold the line while US and Japanese forces rush to repel a Chinese invasion. If China knows this, they may hold off in the hope that the future will change the strategic situation in their favor.

The second best way to avoid the escalation problem is to win quickly, if the Chinese delude themselves into thinking the US and/or Japan will not defend Taiwan and that the Taiwanese cannot resist. Cripple the first wave; crush the paratroopers and infantry that come across the beach; interdict the follow-up waves with naval and air power; and hit the ports of embarkation. Do all this and make sure Taiwan can throw the Chinese back into the sea so the war ends quickly.

The war against Islamist nutballs is bad enough. I would really like it if the Chinese evolved some sanity and became a normal, civilized country without territorial objectives to be achieved at others' expense. You'd think China would recognize it has enough problems 360 degrees without driving us into the enemy camp.

The Chinese are getting ready. They are getting set. When will they go?

UPDATE: This post has drawn more comments than any other that I've written. No doubt, since the Instalanche has flatlined the week except for Tuesday and darn near flatlined my month! I usually just send private thanks to Glenn but a public thanks is called for since I actually couldn't get into the system to post because of the traffic! I guess I never truly knew what an Instalanche really is ...

Many good comments, as I said, some with links that I will read. Most of the comments addressed points I've made in earlier posts over the last 2-1/2 years but some raised new wrinkles that I have to think about. I will reply to the comments I've received and attempt to address the new points (including a comment a couple months ago from a reader whose email evaporated in a strange auto-purge before I could address his comment about whether the US people would even support intervening over Taiwan).

Sorry about no comments capability but I have trouble enough with time for writing posts let alone monitoring a comments section.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, and I call the Chinese capital "Peking" because it annoys people I like to annoy. It's a small thing, for sure; but I get so few guilty pleasures...

UPDATE NUMERO THREE: Dang, an Echolanche from MSNBC. For those who are curious, this is how my evolution of thinking on the Olympics diversion led me to my conclusion stated here--roughly speaking.

UPDATE (D): Secondary explosions keep bringing referrals. So here are some additional thoughts on Chinese capabilities.

UPDATE V: Welcome Winds of Change readers. This blog isn't all-Taiwan, all the time; but hopefully there are other things of interest here for you. And unlike Lileks (and this is a good-natured tease, I never miss him), I keep my cute kid stuff on my other blog, The Dignified Rant: Home Edition.

UPDATE IN APRIL: Since this still gets hits, let me link to my Taiwan invasion scenario that I finally got around to writing up.