Monday, November 28, 2016

The Return of the Most Core of Core Interests?

 Despite the attention paid to islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea, should we be thinking more about Taiwan?

Given that Taiwan is backing away from soft reunion with China, given that Taiwan is updating their military and even plans to build their own subs, and given that China doesn't even seem to be willing to pretend to allow Hong Kong significant local autonomy until the 50-year deal with Britain which returned Hong Kong to China expires, I am starting to think more about the chances of China invading Taiwan to bring that "core interest" of China into the loving embrace of the mainland.

So when I read that China wants helicopters, I say "huh:"

China has ordered 18 more helicopters from Russia. This includes eight Ansats (a three ton transport similar to the UH-1 and used as an ambulance), four Ka-32s (the civilian version of the 12 ton Ka-27 naval helicopter that can carry up to four tons).and six Mi-17s. Despite having their own helicopter industry (including licensed manufacture of some European and Russian designs) China continues to buy Mi-17s from Russia because China needs more military transport helicopters right now and still needs other types of Russian helicopters in such small quantities that producing them in China is not practical.

One example is for high altitude choppers that could operate in China-occupied Tibet, which is certainly a valid Chinese need given that India is finally starting to respond to Chinese power by building up their forces and infrastructure on India's side of that border.

But given China's shortage of specialist amphibious warfare ships (which I think would be supplemented by civilian ships for an invasion), having a lot of helicopters that could be used on the relatively short hop across the Taiwan Strait seems like a reason China "cannot build or buy enough helicopters," as the headline says.

China insists they must have Taiwan. China's military is improving fast and until Taiwan can react, will continue to outpace Taiwan's defense efforts. So the chance of China deciding to invade Taiwan has to be going up.

One more thing to worry about in a new untested administration.