after China announcing military exercises In six waters close to Taiwan, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense express no doubt Beijing’s message is: “They seek to resolve cross-strait issues by force, not by peaceful means.”
But if China wants to, can China take Taiwan by force?
Under Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the People’s Liberation Army has escalated to the point where operations to seize Taiwan seem increasingly plausible. Yet even experts and officials who make their living monitoring Chinese troops disagree about how ready those troops are to invade Taiwan and how Xi will make a major gamble, especially after Russia’s troubled war in Ukraine.
“When people talk about whether China can do that, they’re actually talking about different things, the level of operating costs that China has to pay for it — ship losses, casualties –” Orianna Skylar MastroA fellow at Stanford University’s Freemans Polly Institute for International Studies, he believes U.S. policymakers may have underestimated China’s willingness to use force.
“They can do it,” she added. “Just considering Taiwan’s defense capabilities, and considering how bloody a battle would it be if the U.S. could come to aid Taiwan?”
Legislation passed by Congress in 1979 paved the way for U.S. troops to step in when China attempted to invade Taiwan, but did not force the president to take that step.
A key question is how close the People’s Liberation Army is to mastering the capabilities needed to send tens of thousands of troops to Taiwan, either by sea or in the air; establish a foothold on the island; and push outward, occupying ports, railroads, and communications hubs, etc. important locations, and cities where potential insurgents congregate.
Pentagon 2021 Annual Report People’s Republic of China report — widely read as an authoritative assessment — noted that it had built the world’s largest navy measured by the number of ships, but said “attempts to invade Taiwan could put pressure on China’s armed forces and invite international intervention.”
Even with Chinese military support in Taiwan, the difficulties of urban warfare “make an amphibious invasion of Taiwan a significant political and military risk for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party,” the Pentagon report said.
Several recent studies Awarded by the U.S. Naval War College It also suggests that China may still lack some of the equipment and skills needed to make a Taiwan invasion credible. China’s amphibious forces “lack the capability to conduct a large-scale attack on Taiwan,” retired Lt. Col. Dennis J. Blasko, wrote in one of the studies.
Few doubt that the Chinese military has been improving its combat skills. But Taiwan is also strengthening its defenses.
On Monday, the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the official The People’s Liberation Army Daily emphasized Xi Jinping has set a goal of achieving key parts of military modernization by 2027.Last year, Gen. Phil Davidson, who was preparing to retire as commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, sparked controversy by telling a Senate committee Until then, China may make moves to occupy Taiwan.
“There are different assessments,” said Ms. Mastro, who is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, “but what matters is whether China thinks they can do it, not whether we think they can.”