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Panel: China Ratcheting Up Military Pressure Toward Taiwan

China looks at Taiwan like Russia looked at Crimea, a key territory to control in asserting its power in the Asia-Pacific, three experts on maritime security said Friday.

In answer to a question at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. Sarah Kirchberger, from the Institute for Security Policy at Germany’s Kiel University, noted a senior Chinese naval official wrote, “We should do what Putin did in Crimea to Taiwan.”

In controlling Taiwan, China would have direct access to the Western Pacific and extend its influence in the East and South China Seas.

How the United States and its allies — Japan, South Korea and Australia — would respond to overt aggression from Beijing is unclear.

Russia’s seizure of Crimea drew an increasingly stringent series of economic sanctions from the United States and the European Union. Coupled with Moscow’s backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, there was a new commitment of American ground, naval and air forces to Europe and a steady increase in NATO member countries spending on security.

China, however, is a far greater economic power than Russia, and is not afraid to use trade to settle disputes in its favor, the panelists said.

The Chinese have the hard power to force an issue but risk a United States and its Pacific allies response said John Watts, of the Atlantic Council. So it has chosen to follow a hybrid path of military threats and provocations — from island building on coral reefs, aggressive presence in contested waters and severely curbing trade with South Korea and Taiwan to gain an upper hand in any dispute.

For example, the Chinese Coast Guard is now under Beijing’s Military Commission and operating in the East China Sea with a naval frigate. The moves require a greater commitment from Tokyo’s Coast Guard in response. This also distracts from Japan’s ability to rein in illegal fishing in its exclusive economic zone by Chinese and North Korean vessels.

In addition, China has also stepped up its submarine presence in the East China Sea and use of aerial drones to gather intelligence.

China has stepped up to almost daily probes into Japan’s air defense networks. Included in these flights are simulated cruise missile attacks on Japan’s homeland, so they cannot be easily ignored. One possibility to ease the strain on Japan’s air arm would be to have the United States Air Force, operating from Okinawa, also respond to these flights, he said.

The long-range impact of the daily alerts of Japan’s air arm cuts the time available for training and degrades its overall readiness for other missions, Kotani added.

Chinese sailors welcome the Russian Navy destroyer Admiral Tributs (564) in Zhanjiang, China on Sept. 12, 2016. Xinhua Photo

The reasons for all this activity by the People’s Liberation Army is to show that it can take its naval and air forces out of the water closest to the mainland into the Western Pacific. It is a direct response to what it believes is a continuing threat from the United States, its allies and partners in the Pacific — who are practicing a policy of containment, Kotani and Kirchberger said.

Kirchberger stressed how Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders see a democratic Taiwan, in particular, “as a threat to the stability of the [Communist] system.” They clearly understand that China’s largest population, economic and industrial centers are concentrated on its eastern coast and under air and sea threat from this American system of alliances and partnerships.

The military systems that specifically concern China include Aegis Ashore, ballistic missile defense primarily Terminal High Altitude Area Defense now deployed in Korea and global strike capabilities launched from air bases on Guam to Japan and patrolling ballistic missile submarines. “They challenge Chinese nuclear deterrent,” she said.

  • DaSaint

    Unfortunately, should China attack/invade Taiwan, our response is going to be exactly as it was with Crimea. Loud protests. That’s it.

    If Taiwan was a keystone of our Pacific alliances, we would have sold them the same quality of equipment as we’ve sold to South Korea and Japan.

    But we’ve not, because we’ve always anticipated the possibility of China reclaiming actual territory – Taiwan – as opposed to the coral reefs they’ve been reclaiming. It’s a matter of when, not if, IMHO.

    • Dean687

      Not likely with a real leader in the white house now, but it was very likely with the boy who bent-over for everyone (especially his good “friend Mr Love) that previously occupied that office

      • aztec69

        I’m trying to figure out if this is a serious or sarcastic comment. If you’re seriously calling Trump “a real leader” you obviously don’t understand him or his “fake policy”. I don’t understand this knee-jerk reaction to anything that links Obama to the military. Why do some so-called “military analysts” (e.g. military lobbyists) blame him for things that should properly be blamed on Congress. If you’re going to blame Obama than at least give congressmen like Duncan Hunter (father and son) their share of the blame. And, while we’re at it, let’s give the military leadership it’s fair share of the blame. From Tail Hook to Fat Leonard the Navy has left an inglorious trail of not only unprofessional but corrupt leadership that spreads from the bottom up (or is it the bottom down?). I’d like to see the USNI produce and publish a complete and objective “honor roll” of all the Navy officers that have been found guilty and punished in some way (from a slap on the hand to reassignment to a cushy job in the basement of the Pentagon) for their misdeeds. Perhaps the Navy should take a lesson from the Chinese and eliminate most of their leadership problems by doing to their senior officers what the Chinese did to Zheng He. I’ll let you think about that. In the meantime, to any of you younger USNI members who think today’s Navy is the way it always was, I have a garage full of back issues of The Proceedings looking for a new home.

        • Fred Gould

          Being Familiar with President Trump’s business history, he is not a leader or organizer. He has made a career of chaos.

          • tim

            Chaos can be effective- it depends on how and when it is being used. I see nothing wrong in how it is applied right now. So I gave you a thumbs up – as I take your remark not as critique, but statement of fact.

        • Random Citizen

          What the Chinese did to Zheng He? You mean his castration by a Ming prince at age 10 or 13, long before he went to sea? Certainly the Congress deserves a major share of the blame for many of our problems, but I wouldn’t single out the GOP alone. Are you disappointed the Congress didn’t support Obama’s ineffectual plan for an airstrike against the Syrian government? And it wasn’t the Congress but our commander in chief who did nothing while a Daesh flying column was advancing on Baghdad.

        • Centaurus

          Rocco will take them

      • DaSaint

        I may disagree with someone’s policies, but I’m gonna have to take a pass on lowering myself by denigrating them.

        The current President hasn’t acted regarding Crimea. Hasn’t committed significant resources to Syria. Hasn’t reacted to the South China Seas land grab.

        So, a real leader in the White House may respond. Hopefully we will have one at such point in time.

        • Hasn’t committed significant forces in Syria? What Trump sent was enough to swiftly defeat the Islamic State and protect the Kurds from Turkey & Assad – what more do you want?

          Russia annexed the Crimea and had a strong military presence there before Trump took office. Further, Ukraine itself has proven rather unwilling to actually commit to large scale military operations against Donetsk so I’m not sure why the US should do so for a nation that isn’t even an ally.

          The SCS response has been somewhat weak, with merely an intensifying of the naval patrols started by Obama. But the DPRK is a more important issue and we need China’s support there so we really can’t do much more.

        • Todd

          it’s far too late for Crimea, we’re not going to war with Russia over it (psst Russia “we’ll have a lot more flexibility after the election…”). Secondly, it’s far too late for china’s island building, that should’ve been stopped when it started, what like 10 years ago! The only thing we can do, short of war, is to start building our own islands or to pretend they don’t exist.

          • Random Citizen

            There are other options. A revitalized RP-US alliance, a strategic partnership with Vietnam, and/or U.S. bases in the Philippines or Vietnam could still render Beijing’s “islands” in the West Philippine/SCS militarily untenable without a shot fired in anger.

        • SolarWarden

          US sold Javelin missiles to Ukraine which is a huge deal.

          • DaSaint

            March 2, 2018 (UPI) — The State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale to Ukraine of Javelin Missiles and Javelin Command Launch Units, the latest in a series of moves to help the country defend itself against Russian aggression.

            The Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the potential $47 million sale on Thursday, after notifying Congress of its approval. The State Department had previously discussed a plan for the sale in December, but only now formally approved it.

            If approved, the foreign military sale would provide Ukraine with 210 Javelin Missiles and 37 Command Launch Units, with two additional launcher units for spares.

            The approval to further arm Ukraine to defend itself dates to Russia’s 2014 annexation of the country. While former President Barack Obama signed legislation to send weapons there in 2014, a deal never actually happened. Trump, however, approved the December sale following the unveiling of his National Security Strategy, which notes that Russia is creating “an unstable frontier in Eurasia.”

    • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

      Taiwan is a major player in the world economy and they would fight hard. This would lead to a lot of destruction and a total disruption of the global economy, especially in technology. Taiwan is a major semiconductor manufacturer.

      If the Chinese are stupid enough to risk a global economic collapse and world war, regardless of our response, then they are idiots.

      I wish I could understand the Asian mindset. Nothing positive can result from reunification except the poor, pathetic PRC leadership can pull their panties out of their cracks over a slight 70+ years ago. A slight started by a dictator (Mao) who killed millions of Chinese?

      Ain’t communism grand?

      • DaSaint

        I hear and understand your perspective.

        Yet, no major world power has a defense agreement with Taiwan. Why?

        No one sells Taiwan cutting edge weaponry, which forced them to develop their own, with limited chance of export. Why?

        Many countries no longer recognize Taiwan as a legitimate country. Why?

        A: Because of China’s pressure and influence. And at the end of the day, China will threaten action. They can either capitulate or fight. With Hong Kong (no collapse of financial markets) under their belt, and Taiwan, their ascendance as a world power will be complete.

        • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

          Except, Hong Kong was destine to be repatriated. The lease was up.

          I don’t think Taiwan will go quietly into the night. Thanks to James Earl Carter III, the treaty we did have was terminated…

          IF war does erupt, the world economy will reel badly. This is the kind of idiocy that starts global conflicts like WW2.

          Friggin China’s version of the Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere?

        • John33

          We sold Taiwan our cutting edge military equipment until 1979. We were seduced by a country we believed we could coax out of Soviet influence. It was horse trading. We also allowed the UN to drop recognizing Taiwan that same year. If China starts a shooting war, or the trade war gets worse, we won’t care about pleasing China. If I were the pentagon, I would start training the Taiwanese on America’s weapons here in the states covertly. Then if hostilities start, ship the weapons post haste.

          • jerseydave

            Amen to that. The Chinese just granted full power to their new leader in a way that hadn’t been seen since Mao, and a lot of Diplomatic types were stunned. Apparently, opening to China and sending them lots of cash through trade was supposed to make them liberalize. Well, it takes more than that, and building strong alliances to counter their influence is smart.

        • agnosic1

          What happened to all the Hollywood protests over Tibet? Yeah, nothing.

      • ADM64

        Agreed. However, the same logic led everyone in 1914 (and even in the years before it) to believe a war between the Great Powers was impossible due the consequences. The consequences played out largely as predicted; the war came nonetheless.

      • Centaurus

        Yes it is ! Communism is the only way to keep the Imperialist Running Dog Americans from pitch-forking innocent rank and file Proletariat babies ! Long live Chairman Mao !!

    • Random Citizen

      Taiwan has long been an informal ally of the United States. Ukraine was not. Pres. Trump brilliantly signaled U.S. resolve and commitment to our bilateral relationship with Taiwan via his phone call as president-elect with Tsai Ying-wen. He’s also allowed higher level (although so far at just the DAS level, I believe) official visits to Taiwan. I’ve little doubt that under Pres. Trump, the United States would defend Taiwan.

    • jerseydave

      Taiwan should be a key point in our defenses, and a key ally. Tons of electronics still come from Taiwan, and they are willing to stick up for themselves. They want to buy a bunch of defensive gear from us but it gets foot-dragged. That is insane. We can get money for our economy and beef up an ally, so we should cut the foot dragging now. We aren’t buying nay favors with China by doing it and we are hurting an ally that has repeatedly stuck their necks out for us over the years.

  • Ilya Grushevskiy

    This is a dumb analysis: Whilst Russia was and has always been interested in Crimea, it did not ‘grab it’, and the circumstances it came into Russia’s territory were based on an anti-constitutional coup, where an autonomous region decided to hold a referendum for independence, and then to join Russia (as per Chapter 1, article 1, section 2 of the UN Charter). For China to do the same, Taiwan would need a similar coup, and a similar vote by the population, which is not likely.

    China is a long term player – a state with 3000 years of continuous history does not mind waiting 100, 200 years to re-merge its culture. This has happened many many times in Chinese history, there is no rush.

    China wants a rule based world, so it is not going to use military strength for anything but defence – this has been the general history of this country, and not recognising that the Chinese are and have been a mercentile race for millenia is missing the whole point of what China is doing – they are simply going to out GDP the US+EU in the medium run. Money talks, as they say.

    • aztec69

      I don’t entirely agree with Grady either but, as you said about his analysis, “This is a dumb analysis.”, I would say exactly the same thing about yours. If you’re a bot or a troll or whatever on the Russian payroll (or perhaps a Chinese trying to pretend to be a Russian or a North Korean trying to present to be a Chinese pretending to be a Russia; then your analysis makes sense. Fortunately, I suspect the leaders of both the mainland and Taiwan have a better understanding of their situation, both historical and current, then the Russians and Ukrainians do of theirs. As for the poor Crimeans, they just want to be able to sell their produce on the streets of Moscow — oh, way, Russia’s cut off 85% of their irrigation water supply.

      • Mr. Speaker

        Obviously you know nothing of Chinese history or their Confucian approach to politics and defense.

      • Captain Goggles

        I absolutely love you’re comment “If you’re a bot or a troll or whatever on the Russian payroll (or perhaps a Chinese trying to pretend to be a Russian or a North Korean trying to present to be a Chinese pretending to be a Russia.” Because you are so rite about that. I have encountered in these online discussions people like you described. I wouldn’t be surprised if Da Saint is Chinese/Troll and the other one also with the Russian name. LOL too funny.

    • Chesapeakeguy

      The one thing I would take exception to in your post here is the fact that China is ruled by communists. They have never renounced their ‘revolution’. The Red Chinese embracing of some economic reforms and principles is all a means to an end. The communists still control all that, and decide on all policies pertaining to their country. Whether their communist overlords are willing to wrap their goals within the guise of ‘patient nationalism’ goes against many communist principles. Along those lines, China has lots of historic animosities that time and ideology have not curbed. Many of those animosities manifest themselves in the disputes concerning fishing and other ‘rights’ in the seas bordering China.

  • Leatherstocking

    The lead paragraph is msileading. China sees Taiwan as its territory and wants to recover it. This is a much stronger national will than Russia with Crimea. China can take Taiwan at any time with the world’s reliance on Chinese trade and raw materials. But there are unpredictable economic risks in disrupting world trade. For the moment, Taiwan’s businesses continue to modernize Chinese industry and the PRC is content to reap the advantages of status quo.

    • Duane

      Actually, no, PRC cannot take over ROC any time it wants (see my comment above on an invasion). If you were right about the success of a PRC invasion of ROC, it would have happened 69 years ago.

      Just ask Napoleon or Hitler how easy it is to successfully invade an island nation that is prepared and determined to defend itself, particularly when that island nation has powerful friends.

    • JMIII

      Crimea was originally part of Russia and many if not most of its inhabitants are ethnic Russians that want to rejoin Russia. You can’t say that about Taiwan. The majority of Taiwanese are not clamoring to join the PRC. So I disagree about the national will thing. In fact, I think it is less so. I wonder how a middle class mainlander feels about the fact that people in HK get more say in their governance than they do? Now extend that also to Taiwanese in a 1 country, 2 systems environment. Do they really want to expend blood and treasure to bring a renegade province to heal? The outcome would be the talented upper level fleeing, along with most of the wealth. Leaving the PRC with 20 million demoralized people to take care of and rebuild their devastated island. If they achieve a peaceful reunification, how will the Communist Party be able to maintain control with a “free” society on one hand and a totalitarian mainland on the other? Is that workable long term?

  • Duane

    A successful military invasion and takeover of ROC by PRC is very very far from a sure thing. The PLAN has to cross the Formosa Strait with vast numbers of surface ships and amphibious forces … all of which would be sitting ducks for land based, mobile ASCMs just as we are now developing with both Army long range fires … and ground based artillery … and from air launched ASCMs as allied (ROC, Japan, US, Australia, and ROK) attack aircraft already deploy in large numbers … and from submarine attacks.

    Such an attempted invasion would be a slaughter on a massive scale, literally like shooting fish in a barrel.

    PRC could certainly do a lot of damage to ROC with missile attacks, but an invasion would be a massive catastrophe for the communist government, likely resulting in its end. I believe the PRC leadership quite likely understands that.

    Hence, the stupid island building, along with other belligerent threats, intended to frighten and intimidate the ROC into giving up without a fight … of which there is no chance.

    • DaSaint

      I love your absolutism. Such finality.

      That may have been the case in 1990 and 2000.

      2010 – 1 carrier; no change
      2020 – 2 carriers – maybe no change
      2030 – 3 or 4 carriers plus a larger more capable fleet.

      You want to make that same assertion with the same degree of confidence? The Chinese are a patient lot, and will take their time just as they did with pressuring The UK regarding Hong Kong.

      • Duane

        It is not absolutism … it is fact which I stated.

        How many successful amphibious invasions have the Chinese carried out in the last, oh say, thousand years?

        What specific amphibious forces, on a super mega scale required to subdue the ROC, does China have today?

        Just keep in mind the following – the last successful amphibious invasion that subdued a nation was D Day in June 1944. The invasion force consisted of 2 million men, 5,000 ships, and the invaders enjoyed total sea control and air control.

        The PLAN has a total of only 1 million men, most of whom are required to suppress the PRC’s own population … and just 500 ships, virtually none of which are capable of amphibious assault, and the PLAN most certainly does NOT enjoy control of either the seas or the air in the Western Pacific.

        The extremely obvious reason the PRC has not invaded and taken over the ROC is that they do not have the capability.

        • DaSaint

          So you’ve deftly moved away from today’s capabilities or likelihood and have not responded to the possibility I outlined for the future?

          Or are you saying that China will never have the capability to successfully conduct an invasion of Taiwan, should they choose to? And are you also willing to say that Taiwan would never surrender under such threats, if a HK-style accommodation could be worked out?

          • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

            Never is a long time. I think the point is, in 2020 it isn’t going to happen. Not unless China thinks collapsing the world economy is sound policy of a slight against the murderous, Mao?

          • Duane

            It is extremely, if not completely unlikely that PRC will ever field an invasion force capable of subduing ROC. I think you are just clueless about what it would take in resources and sustained casualties to pull that off. Perhaps you should spend some time reading up on the logistics and planning and resources involved in World War Two’s Operations Overlord (Normandy invasion) and Olympic (invasion of just the relatively small and southernmost of the Japanese home islands). Particularly the latter.

            Olympic was originally planned in early 1945, based upon faulty assumptions that envisioned an invasion force of 2 million allied soldiers and a tried and true thumb rule that to be successful, the invading force must be three times as large as the defending force. At that time the allies estimated the Japanese had only 2/3 of a million forces on Kyushu. And even that rosy scenario projected over half million allied casualties.

            By the end of spring 1945, however, intelligence indicated that the Japanese had by then repatriated over 2 million soldiers from mainland Asia in preparation for Operation Olympic. When that fact sank into the thinking of Truman’s service chiefs, the potential casualties became mindboggling, with plummeting support for the invasion of the Japanese home islands. Indeed, Admirals King and Nimitz advocated a long term blockade and siege to literally starve to death the entire Japanese population. The Navy leaders also openly opposed the use of the atomic bomb in Japan.

            Thankfully, the Army came to the rescue with a working atomic bomb, which Truman embraced and which likely saved tens of millions of Japanese lives, and quite likely millions of allied soldiers.

            Read the book “Downfall”, by Richard Frank. It will dissuade anybody from thinking that an amphibious invasion of an unwilling defender can be anything but a massive undertaking with catastrophic consequences.

            btw – the total number of regulars and reserves in the Republic of China is approximately 3.2 million. Not counting support from the US, Japan, ROK, Australia, and NATO forces that may very well see it in their national interests to defeat any effort by PRC to conquer the western Pacific.

          • DaSaint

            What you think of me is neither relevant nor pertinent. Your opinion of what China can or will do is just that, opinion. You have no more insights on the eventual actions of China than I do.

            What may be more helpful is expounding on your reasons, not denigrating the person your conversing with, especially when its amicable.

            Your propensity to do so will not be tolerated by me. Share your insights, as they’re appreciated. But please be clear that I don’t have to embrace them and will continue to present opinions and arguments to enhance cordial discussion, whether on this topic of others.

            Don’t embrace the point of view – thats fine, but keep it respectful in content AND tone.

          • Random Citizen

            I agree with the plea to eschew ad hominem attacks.

            Invading Taiwan is a difficult mission for the PLA. A massive missile salvo by the PRC would destroy Taiwan equities but also rattle every stock market in the world. Shipping insurance costs would skyrocket. Taiwan would command the world’s attention and sympathy. The people of Taiwan would fight hard. They are tough, committed and as prepared as they can be for just such a scenario, given their resource constraints.

            Defending Taiwan also would be difficult. The PLAAF likely would suffer tremendous losses but could attrit Taiwan’s air assets in the absence of Western intervention. The PLAN doesn’t yet have the resources with which to mount a large-scale amphibious assault but likely will over time. A PLAN blockade would seek to isolate and strangle Taiwan economically. Lurking PLAN submarines would destroy shipping to Taiwan and guard against any navy task force sailing to its relief.

            The United States would not be able to watch these developments with equanimity from the sidelines. A U.S. Navy task force sailing west to break the PLAN blockade of Taiwan would likely find itself in a Mahanian naval clash in the vicinity of Okinotorishima. In years past, such a battle would end quickly with another USN triumph. Today such a clash would not be a cakewalk, but its outcome is still in little doubt. In years to come, however, the outcome will be increasingly clouded, should present trends continue.

            The Trump administration has signaled strength in its dealings with Beijing on the Taiwan issue. Most past administrations did not. The F-35 would be a great for e equalizer for Taiwan, but F-35 sales to Taiwan would be highly provocative. I believe we should keep Beijing guessing in this regard but soon provide Taipei with F-16V’s instead.

            Our emphasis really should be on strengthening our readiness in Japan, particularly Okinawa, which is the linchpin of our defense. But we also should work harder at rekindling our relationship with the Philippines. U.S. force is more easily projected from just across the Bashi Channel than all the way from Guam.

            The PRC cannot attack Taiwan until it is certain it can achieve air superiority, at a minimum. Strong air assets in the region, if not on Taiwan itself, will be necessary to deter war.

          • Duane

            Apparently you are uninformed also on matters of successfully invading and occupying island nations. That is not ad hominem, it is fact.

            You claim that PRC would successfully attrite ROCs air forces with missile attacks. That may be true, but to invade, you have to transfer a sufficiently large number of troops via sea.

            You do realize that ROC’s armed forces of at least 3.2 million would require an invasion force of at least 10 million well trained and equipped soldiers, which is only ten times as many soldiers as exist in the entire PLA … and that most of those soldiers are required to garrison PRC internally to hold the population in check … and to defend PRCs long borders against Russia, India, and Vietnam, all three of which are China’s historic enemies?

            And just how will PRC take out hundreds if not thousands of mobile, land based ASCM launchers and long range artillery that would destroy any PRC invasion fleet long before it reached the shores of Taiwan?

            And just how would PRC establish complete air supremacy over the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan itself, even if it managed to destroy the entire ROC air force? Do you imagine for a moment that the USA, let alone Japan, ROK, and Australia would stand by idly and literally allow ORC to take over control of all West Pac and SCS airspace?

            It is literally unimaginable.

          • Random Citizen

            Apparently you didn’t carefully read or understand what I wrote. Never did I claim that the PRC would attrite Taiwan’s air force with missile attacks. What I did write was that invading Taiwan would be difficult for the PLA and couldn’t be achieved without command of the air. I also expressed my firm belief that the United States would intervene. A PLAN invasion fleet would be sitting ducks at present, but the trend is not working for us. A U.S. Navy task force sailing to the relief of Taiwan also would be vulnerable. I’ve lived in Taiwan and war-gamed the scenario. 我也會講中文。But I’ll be happy to defer to your expertise once you cite for me the island nations you’ve successfully invaded and occupied.

          • SolarWarden

            Not to mention the US and Taiwan will detect military movement wayyy before any invasion or strike takes place. No element of surprise means a lotta deaths for the offensive side.

          • Duane

            I wrote that you are clueless in these matters, which is not s condemnation of you as a person but a statement of your knowledge of this subject, i.e. what it takes to succeed in a PRC invasion of ROC. Everybody is clueless about a great many subjects.

            I quoted facts (not my personal opinions, completely backed up by historical records) above and gave you a great resource to review to make yourself no longer clueless in this subject.

            Apparently you would prefer to remaining clueless, even after being given far more than a clue.

          • Captain Goggles

            Well said sir.

          • JMIII

            What does the ROC have to gain from an HK style accomodation? The PRC has shown in HK that when the chips are down, they rule. The ROC are gaining a distinct Taiwanese identity as those from the mainland die off everyday. They value their freedom much as we do, perhaps more. On the flip side, what would the PRC gain, aside from a bit of “prestige” from taking over the ROC? The jewel that is the ROC is not any resources but the resourcefulness of its people and that will be destroyed under PRC domination. HK is not the same as the British dominated HK similar to the way the Chinese do now. Handover there was more a matter of which flag to bow towards more than anything.

          • DaSaint

            Most of the people of HK were not happy with the handover, and it’s effects on business is starting to become more apparent. It is the financial community in HK that had/has the most to fear, though they also viewed themselves as gateways into China from a business perspective. That hasn’t quite worked out as envisioned.

            Invading Taiwan would not be a good idea for all parties concerned. It is my belief however, that China will continue to isolate Taiwan politically internationally, and economically if possible, while continuing the stead buildup of a sophisticated military with or without Russian cooperation and/or support, until such time they feel they can confidently change the status quo.

            Won’t happen any time soon, but the Chinese are patient people.

  • Ed L

    Now everyone knows that the Chinese want to control the Seas around Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Mariana islands and as far south as Australia. Even if it takes 5 year, 20 years, 50 years. one hundred years, five hundred years or longer. And Russia better watch her back too. Remember that back in 1421 AD a chinese fleet reached the west coast of North America

    • ADM64

      Agree with the bulk of this but the claim that a Chinese fleet reached North America in 1421 remains entirely speculative.

  • EH

    Most Crimeans want to be a part of Russia. The same is NOT true for Taiwan. Furthermore, Taiwan is an island which makes invasion very very difficult. Ukraine was surprised by Russian attack, Taiwan would get tons of warning.
    The only similarity between Crimea and Taiwan is the desire of a large country to grab additional territory.

    • Scott Ferguson

      No, Crimeans don’t.

  • omegatalon

    This is why Trump should sell F-35A and F-35B as well as 2-3 America class Amphibious Assault Ships and THAAD anti-ballistic missile systems to Taiwan or help Taiwan start a nuclear weapons program.

    • jerseydave

      Taiwan needs submarines, too. Small ones, like South Korean Minisubs, mixed with some new generation SSKs like the German 212 class. In those tight waters, that would give the Chinese fits if they were planning an Amphibious attack. More fighter planes (Taiwan reportedly would love to have more F-16s, as well as F-35 down the road) Frigates and shore based defenses like truck mounted Harpoon launchers and Surface to Air missiles would add to such defenses very well.

  • ADM64

    Hasn’t the political consensus in the capital established that manufacturing-industrial power doesn’t matter because we get cheap trade goods from China, so the relative economic strength of our countries is irrelevant? Additionally, since a war would disrupt their trade, too, they clearly wouldn’t dare. Finally, as our military has harnessed the power of diversity and moved, via transformative technologies, beyond traditional competencies like seamanship and basic maintenance, would not China be comprehensively deterred from even looking sideways at Taiwan? Oh, wait a minute…I see the chickens coming home to roost.

  • agnosic1

    Time for the US to sharply curtain immigration from mainland China, and to explore ways to expand immigration from Taiwan (presuming reliable methods of verification are available).

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I hope Taiwan does not ever become a ‘Munich moment’, in that the world would allow the ChiComs to have her in exchange for ‘peace in our time’. Remember that this country turned its back on South Vietnam in their most dire hour. And that after ‘negotiating’ the very ‘terms’ that facilitated that ‘dire hour’. I hope we don’t ever do that to Taiwan.

  • tim

    China has time on its side – it may take 200 years – just keep at it. They have numbers on their side – whether throwing soldiers at it, or simply buying it up.
    The only way for Taiwan to stay independent is to be of value to China as they are right now. Not a thorn in China’s side, but a valued partner. They will have to continue to perform a balancing act. “The West” will do nothing to help Taiwan militarily – “if” someone might help, it is the USA. Would we? Could we? Trump is right, we need to rebuild our military so it is in great condition- but do we have the funds to enlarge it? China is an enemy, just as the deficit!

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    The sooner the US learns that neither Russia nor China will become US satrapies, the better.

  • John B. Morgen

    The PLAN will attack Taiwan when its Fleet has three or four aircraft carriers, and its amphibious forces have enough LSDs to invade the island nation-state. At the meantime, the Trump Administration needs to make it quite to China not to invade Taiwan. China will attack and invade Taiwan during this century.