Right Question

Asking the right question is usually more productive than trying to prove the right answer.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

One China

In the wake of China's new anti-secession law there's been much talk of Chinese intentions towards Taiwan:
  • The Dignified Rant (via Instapundit) last week noted China's rapid naval buildup, particularly in amphibious ships and escort submarines, and suggests that they might be preparing for a massive invasion just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
  • Bill Roggio (via Arthur Chrenkoff) responds at length, citing a two-year-old article in the Naval War College Review.
  • Both sides seem at least interested in being ready for the possibility -- Bill Roggio reports on U.S. naval operations last summer practicing to oppose a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, and now the Dignified Rant has reports of a joint exercise between China and Russia in which China will be basically doing a dry run for the invasion.
For myself, I've no idea how capable the Taiwanese military is of repelling a significant Chinese beachhead, nor of how long it would take U.S. naval forces in the region to cut it off from supplies and reinforcements. The two points that stick with me are: (1) Even if it's true that China can't win militarily, that's no guarantee that they won't try very hard, and (2) China gets most of its oil by sea, and apparently has no significant strategic reserve to fall back on.
Even so, it's not hard to imagine China's leaders talking themselves into the belief, however ill-founded, that they could swamp Taiwan quickly and present the U.S. with a fait accompli.

UPDATE: From a brief reading of the NWCR paper, one of the factors the authors argue from is China's old and declining ambibious assault navy, predicted to fall by half by 2010. China's actual buildup of these forces since that article was written could cast matters in a different light.


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