Explained: Could China invade Taiwan?

After China announced Military exercises in six maritime zones near TaiwanThe island’s Defense Ministry said it had no doubts about the message Beijing wanted to send: “They seek a cross-strait solution by force rather than peaceful means.”

But can China take Taiwan by force if it wants to?

Under China’s leadership, Xi Jinping, the People’s Liberation Army is living up to the point where the campaign to seize Taiwan seems increasingly reasonable. But even experts and officials who monitor the Chinese military for a living disagree about how willing these forces are to invade Taiwan and how much Xi is inclined to take such a grave adventure, especially after Russia’s turbulent war in Ukraine.

“When people talk about whether or not China can do that, they are actually talking about something different, the level of operational cost — ship losses, losses — that China has to pay to do it,” Orellana said. Skyler Mastro, a fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said US policymakers may be underestimating China’s willingness to use force.

“They can do it,” she added. “That’s just given Taiwan’s defenses and if the United States is able to provide assistance to Taiwan, how much blood battle will it be?”

Legislation passed by Congress in 1979 clears the way for US forces to intervene if China attempts to invade Taiwan, but does not obligate the president to do so.

One key question is how close the PLA is to mastering the capabilities to send tens of thousands of troops to Taiwan, by sea or air; establish a foothold on the island; and push outward to capture vital locations such as ports, railways, and communications centers, as well as cities crowded with would-be rebels.

The Pentagon’s 2021 annual report on the People’s Republic of China – widely read as a credible assessment – noted that it had built the world’s largest navy by number of ships, but said that “an attempt to invade Taiwan is likely to overburden the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China.” call for international intervention.

The Pentagon report stated that even if Chinese forces were able to reach the coast of Taiwan, the difficulties of urban warfare “make the amphibious invasion of Taiwan a major political and military risk to Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.”

Several recent studies by the US Naval War College have suggested that China may still lack some of the equipment and skills to make the Taiwan invasion credible. Dennis J. Blasco, a retired lieutenant colonel, wrote in one study that the Chinese amphibious force “lacked the ability to carry out a large-scale attack on Taiwan.

Few would doubt that the Chinese army is improving its combat skills. But Taiwan is also building its defenses.

On Monday, the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the official Liberation Army Daily emphasized Xi’s goal of achieving major parts of military modernization by 2027. Last year, Admiral Phil Davidson prepared, then retired, as commander of the US Indian forces. – Pacific Command, sparked controversy by telling a Senate committee that China could move to seize Taiwan before that time.

“There are different assessments, but what matters is whether China thinks it can do it, not whether we think it can,” said Mastro, who is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Written by Chris Buckley. This article originally appeared in the New York Times.

Leave a Comment