October 6, 2022

After China announced military exercises in six sea zones near Taiwan, the island’s Ministry of Defense he said he had no doubt what message did Beijing want to send: “that they are seeking a resolution to the straits by force rather than by peaceful means”.

But could China take Taiwan by force if it wanted to?

Under China’s leader Xi Jinping, the People’s Liberation Army has been upgraded to the point where a campaign to seize Taiwan looks increasingly plausible. But even experts and officials who watch the Chinese military disagree about how ready those forces are to invade Taiwan and how willing Mr. Xi would be to take the big gamble, especially after Russia’s tumultuous war in Ukraine .

“When people talk about whether China can or can’t do it, they’re actually talking about something different, the level of operational costs — loss of ships, casualties — that China would have to pay to do it,” he said. . Oriana Skylar Mastrofellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, who argued that American policymakers may underestimate China’s readiness to use force.

“They could do it,” he added. “Just given Taiwan’s defense and given that the United States is able to help Taiwan, how big a blood battle will this be?”

Legislation passed by Congress in 1979 clears the way for US forces to intervene if China tries to invade Taiwan, but does not compel a president to take that step.

A key question is how close the People’s Liberation Army is to mastering the capabilities needed to send tens of thousands of troops to Taiwan, by sea or air. to establish himself on the island. and push out to capture vital locations such as ports, railways and communication hubs, as well as cities filled with potential insurgents.

Pentagon Annual 2021 report on the People’s Republic of China — widely read as an authoritative assessment — noted that it had built the world’s largest navy as measured by the number of ships, but said that “an attempted invasion of Taiwan would likely strain the DPRK’s armed forces and provoke international intervention.”

Even if Chinese forces reached Taiwan’s shores, the difficulties of civil war “make an amphibious invasion of Taiwan a significant political and military risk for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party,” the Pentagon report said.

Several studies recently issued by the US Naval War College he also said that China probably still lacks some of the equipment and skills needed to make an invasion of Taiwan credible. China’s amphibious force “does not have the capability to launch a large-scale attack on Taiwan,” said Dennis J. Blasko, a retired lieutenant colonel. he wrote in one of the studies.

Few doubt that China’s military has improved its warfighting capabilities. But Taiwan is also building defenses.

On Monday, 95 years since the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the official emphasized the Liberation Army Kathimerini Mr. Xi’s goal of achieving key parts of military modernization by 2027. Last year, Admiral Phil Davidson, then poised to retire as commander of the United States’ Indo-Pacific Command, sparked discussions telling a Senate committee that China could move to seize Taiwan before then.

“There are different estimates,” said Ms. Mastro, who is also a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, “but what matters is whether China thinks it can do it, not whether we think it can.” .

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