Tuesday, November 01, 2016

China No Longer Has a Taiwan Strategy?

China's smiling charm offensive that attempted to portray the baring of fangs as smiling, is a failure and Taiwan has not been lulled into enthusiastic embrace of the totalitarian mainland. But this does not mean China does not have options to bring this "core interest" under Peking's control.

China has no Taiwan strategy?

Everything else having failed, and even its military options forcing it to choose between continued but ineffective probing on the one hand and the extreme of total war, costly occupation and the high risk of a U.S. intervention on the other hand, Beijing’s strategy to win Taiwan over by means “peaceful” or coercive is a shambles. As a retired Western diplomat who has spent several years in China told me recently, Beijing doesn’t know what to do with Taiwan. It has painted itself into a corner by claiming that the “China dream” passes through the “reunification” of Taiwan and “the mainland,” but it has nothing at its disposal to make that become reality. The facts just don’t support the argument.

“China,” he said, “doesn’t have a Taiwan strategy.”

Really? After the last nearly 8 years of nuanced "smart diplomacy," the author can write that the Chinese believe there is a "high risk" of American intervention if China invades Taiwan?

I grant you that if a conventional campaign dragged on long enough, the odds of America gathering forces and concluding domestic debates in favor of intervention will grow and perhaps in time reach the level of "high risk" for China.

But I believe that if the Chinese can throw a force across the strait and gain an advantage over Taiwanese defenders before we intervene, while throwing a screen out to sea to block the American navy from getting too close, that China could defeat Taiwan.

China has the advantage in a war against Taiwan of being close to the theater while America's overall greater power is scattered around the globe. Apart from the decision-making process, it will take time to reinforce our forward deployed forces in the western Pacific.

China has the added advantage of the initiative, able to prepare their closer forces for the battles beginning on the day of their choosing.

So China will have some span of weeks to invade and create conditions where America and Japan will decide that intervention is futile if the goal is to help Taiwan repel an invasion rather than gear up for a long war to liberate Taiwan from China's control.

So yeah, after a failed charm offensive is over, and with the realization that pinprick intimidation won't bend Taiwan to Peking's will, China still has a Taiwan strategy that China has long focused their military on carrying out: invasion and conquest.

I used to blog a lot more about Taiwan under the shadow of China's invasion threats. Perhaps I'll be returning to that a lot more from now on if China rips away the friendly mask to bare their fangs.