The ‘imminent’ Taiwan conflagration: two questions to ponder, by Peter Van Buren

Is it really so “obvious,” even with the inept Biden administration in power, that China will invade Taiwan? From Peter Van Buren at

Before you read another article claiming that U.S.-China relations are entering dangerous territory, or that Beijing is closer to invading Taiwan, leaving the United States on the precipice of war in its defense, ponder these two critical questions:

Why Would China Attack Taiwan?

Over the last decade Taiwan invested $188.5 billion in China, more than China’s investment in the United States. In 2019 the value of cross-strait trade was $149.2 billion. China applied in September to join the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. A week later, with no opposition voiced by Beijing, Taiwan also applied to join. China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner. “One country, two systems” has not only kept the peace for decades, it has proven damn profitable. Why bomb one of your best customers?

Why would China consider a war that would provoke the U.S.? Total Chinese investment in the U.S. is $145 billion. U.S. investment in China passed $1 trillion. The Chinese are literally betting the house on America’s success.

A failed invasion of Taiwan would topple Xi if not the whole power structure. An invasion is impractical. Chinese amphibious forces would be under fire from Taiwan’s F-16s armed with Harpoon missiles practically as they left harbor. Taiwan will soon field a land-based anti-ship missile with a 200-mile range. China would need to land a million soldiers on day one (on D-Day the Allies put ashore 156,000.) China’s primary amphibious assault ship carries about only 1,000 men, and China currently has only three such ships. Its conscript troops are unbloodied in combat.

Meanwhile American and allied forces patrol the waters. Aircraft from Guam, Okinawa, and Korea could shut down the skies, and decimate Chinese aircraft on the ground. This is not another of the counterinsurgency struggles which defeated America. It is a Big Power conflict, a war the U.S. has been preparing to fight against someone since the 1960s. (Though analysts like to point to a classified war game last year that saw the American forces “failing miserably” in a battle over Taiwan; and another by the Air Force, which succeeded in repelling China, but with significant losses.)

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