They are even more interested in operations in Afghanistan. They see the 2001-2002 campaign there as a highly sophisticated operation that simultaneously blended the selective use of American air and ground forces with local resistance fighters, information operations, bribery, diplomatic maneuvering, humanitarian assistance, assassinations, and other actions, to oust the Taliban, while the opening phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrated how effective American troops were in conducting a highly sophisticated, mobile, and well-coordinated "conventional" campaign.
They also believe that operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2003 have not been successful, and that the outcomes there remain "uncertain." To better understand this Chinese perspective, you have to be familiar with the ancient Chinese military writer Sun Tzu. This sage was a big proponent of the indirect approach, and winning
wars without fighting. The Chinese particularly admire the American ability to fight so often, but suffer such low casualties. Not all of Sun Tzu's advice is still applicable. For example, he would have handled the stubborn Sunni Arabs of Iraq, and Taliban of Afghanistan, by killing them all, or driving them into exile. This approach has been used throughout human history, and is still being applied today in some parts of the world.
So, if China wants to learn from us, what might that mean for Taiwan? This is what the Chinese military is most likely to be focused on.
Well, they must plan an attack by higher caliber troops without a land corridor to the target to overwhelm the enemy; neutalize enemy forces with money, threats, psychological operations, and anything else; and use local allies to leverage the fast-moving military forces to seize the center of political power in the capital.
And when the Taiwanese government collapses as a result of this invasion? The Chinese would want to avoid what they see as our mistakes in the stability phase. There will be no hearts and minds campaign or tribal negotiations. They could ship off the native Taiwanese to distant and isolated Tibet and the Moslem areas of western China--where they can learn to be proper Chinese citizens in a sea of hostile Tibetans or Moslems who will see them as Chinese and not fellow oppressed victims of Chinese aggression--and where they can't complain and be heard by the Western press. Ethnic Han Chinese don't seem to want to move out west so making Taiwanese move there will do in a pinch to move demographics against the ethnic minorities.
The Chinese could then ship in plentiful Chinese mainland colonists to Taiwan from the Han parts of China to bolster the former KMT decendants living on Taiwan who still feel more Chinese than Taiwanese. Taiwan will be a more appealing destination than the wild west.
The Chinese will kill four birds with one stone--bolster legitimacy with a feel good campaign to recover lost lands; swamp Tibet and western China with unwilling colonists from Taiwan who will have no choice but to become Chinese just to survive in a hostile and isolated land; and empty Taiwan of independence mindede Taiwanese to make room for new Chinese residents whose hearts and minds are already won. This might take some pressure off of China's cities who must cope with internal migration from China's rural areas by directing that migration to Taiwan.
Is this too cynical? Please. Remember, in the Korean War the Chinese government sent lots of former KMT soldiers into the war against American troops. It was win-win for China with former enemies killing Americans and Americans killing potentially disloyal soldiers.
Perhaps simply slaughtering civilians the old fashioned way will be done to consolidate mainland rule over Taiwan. Bad press can't be good for businesss and surely Peking would like to avoid that if they can. But make no mistake, there will be no hearts and minds campaign.
The Taiwanese need to develop a serious sense of urgency about defending their prosperity and liberty. It could be snuffed out in a fortnight.