Could China Invade Taiwan? – The New York Times

After China announcement of military exercises in the six seas close to Taiwan, the island’s defense ministry say it’s no doubt the message Beijing wants to send: “that it seeks a solution across the strait by force instead of peaceful means.”

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

Under China’s leader, Xi Jinping, the People’s Liberation Army has upgraded to the point where a campaign to invade Taiwan seems increasingly plausible. However, even experts and officials who follow the life of the Chinese military disagree on how willing those forces are to invade Taiwan, and Mr. Xi would be inclined to take the gamble. how important, especially after Russia’s troubled war in Ukraine.

“When people talk about whether or not China can do it, they are really talking about something different, the level of operating costs – ship losses, casualties – that China would have to pay to do. that,” said Oriana Skylar Mastroa fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies who argued that American policymakers may underestimate China’s willingness to use force.

“They can do it,” she added. “It’s just with Taiwan’s defense and if the US can aid Taiwan, how much will this bloody battle be?”

The act passed by Congress in 1979 paves the way for American forces to step in if China tries to invade Taiwan, but it doesn’t oblige a president to take that step.

An important question is whether the People’s Liberation Army possesses the capabilities necessary to deploy tens of thousands of troops to Taiwan, by sea or by air; establish footholds on the island; and pushed outward to capture key sites such as ports, railroads and communication points, as well as cities teeming with potential insurgents.

The Pentagon’s Annual 2021 Report on the People’s Republic of China – widely read as an authoritative review – notes that they have built the largest navy in the world by number of ships, but says that “an attempt to invade Taiwan would likely strain direct China’s armed forces and invite international intervention.”

Even as Chinese forces approach the shores of Taiwan, the difficulties of urban warfare “make an amphibious invasion of Taiwan a significant political and military risk for Xi Jinping and Chinese Communist Party,” the Pentagon report said.

Some recent studies issued by the United States Naval War College also points out that China may still lack some of the equipment and skills needed to make an invasion of Taiwan credible. China’s amphibious forces “lack the capacity to launch a large-scale attack on Taiwan,” said Dennis J. Blasko, a retired lieutenant colonel, wrote in one of the studies.

Few people suspect 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, officially The Liberation Army Daily emphasized Mr. Xi’s goal is to achieve key parts of the military’s modernization by 2027. Last year, Adm. Phil Davidson, then ready to retire as Commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, sparked debate. by telling a Senate committee that China could move to occupy Taiwan before then.

“There are different assessments, but what matters is whether China thinks it can do it,” said Mastro, who is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. is whether we think they can do it.”

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