Friday, April 15, 2022

When Will China Invade Taiwan? A View from The Cheap Seats

Col. Andrew Dziengeleski (retired) thinks it's years away: The PRC is Unlikely to Invade Taiwan Soon

Over the last decade, the seemingly endless background noise amongst the military chatterati has been concentrated on when, not if, the PRC will invade Taiwan. In this essay, I hope to provide some details about why I think any invasion of Taiwan is years off at the earliest, and may not be possible for decades.
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WEAKNESS #1: AN AMPHIBIOUS CAMPAIGN OVER A LONG DISTANCE? The narrowest part of the Taiwan Strait between mainland China and Taiwan is a whopping 81 MILES in distance! It gets as wide as 110 miles in distance, which is a massive distance to cover if you are a poor, bloody infantryman in the People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps (PLANMC for those scoring at home).
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WEAKNESS #2: THE PRC MILITARY HAS LITERALLY NO COMBAT EXPERIENCE. In 2021, the last PRC combat veterans from the invasion of Vietnam in 1979 were promoted to Four-Star General, including new Western Theater Commander Wang Haijiang. With this lack of combat experience, especially at the tactical level (think Company and below), the first time the PRC military “sees the elephant” will come as a massive shock, especially facing Western weaponry. To make matters worse for the Chinese, their Air Force and Navy not only have no combat experience, they have very limited collective fighting experience as well.
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Weakness #3: The CCP Leadership Can’t Ignore Domestic Politics and the Will of the People. Any war between the PRC and Taiwan is going to be bloody, longer than expected, and have substantial negative impacts on the citizenry of the PRC. Because of the CCP’s “one-child” policy, now rescinded due to emerging demographic problems, most families in the PRC only have a single son. Due to the lethality of modern warfare, losing your only son will have extreme impacts on mothers, who have been known to be vocal about these issues throughout history.
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Weakness #4: Are They Learning from the Russia-Ukraine War? Now that the Russian-Ukraine War is about to enter its second month, the world has seen the weakness of Russian equipment, especially their Infantry Vehicles and Tanks. Why does this matter? Well, a lot of Chinese kit is either Russian, altered from the original Russian equipment, or copied (and in some cases, improved upon) from the original gear. The Chinese have to understand some of their equipment is either as bad or even worse than the Russian stuff. In addition, corruption within the Chinese military-industrial complex has been notoriously bad for decades, although Xi has made real reforms in this area.
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In summary, the Chinese could ignore all of this and decide to launch an invasion at any point. But I think they are much, much smarter than that. The Russia-Ukraine War has provided them with the best kind of war, the one you watch on the television and take copious notes from other people’s mistakes. I think they will launch a years-long effort to improve their weaponry, understand how complex amphibious operations actually are (especially in the two way shooting gallery), and dedicate real time, effort and money to improving their maintenance and sustainment operations. The decision to invade Taiwan is one with immense political risk for Xi, as failure is not an option.

I responded to Andy, We have a family interest in Taiwan. My paternal grandfather was a Lutheran missionary on the mainland of China until the communists took over, and he moved to Taiwan. 

Given that you think Taiwan has a decade or more to prepare, what could/should they start doing to make themselves the poison arrow frog; too toxic to tackle?

1 comment:

  1. Well, one hopes they learned the lessons from the Ukraine war we think we saw. Problem is, they might be thinking about it entirely differently. It would not be the first time two people looked at the same thing and drew different conclusions.