While the Cross-Straits and Sino-American relations are getting more tense and the Taiwanese DDP has introduced the new formula of the “4 musts” including the demand for a democratiziation of the PR China as precondition for further talks about reunification and possible reason to legitimize an independent Taiwan, the KMT tried to react to the actual situation and for the coming elections, including the 2024 presidental elections in Taiwan:
“KMT passes new policy platform at National Congress
The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) National Congress on Saturday passed a new policy platform titled “Defend Taiwan, Protect Democracy, Fight for the Future, Return to Power,” which covers issues ranging from climate change and animal protection to cross-strait relations.
While continuing the party’s previous stance of backing the so-called “1992 consensus,” which the KMT sees as “one China, different interpretations,” and opposing Beijing’s “one country, two systems,” as well as Taiwanese independence pursued in the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) charter, the new platform also includes KMT Chairman Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) proposal that both sides of the Taiwan Strait should seek common ground while respecting their differences.
This is a change from the KMT’s previous stance of “seeking common ground while allowing differences,” but the new platform is still against military threats or any unilateral actions that could affect peace between the two sides and the cross-strait “status quo.”
Chu, who was elected KMT chairman last month, said in a speech that the KMT would not let its guard down against efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or the DPP to undermine the Republic of China Constitution, democracy, freedom and the rule of law.
Chu said the KMT is seeking victory in the four referendums to be held on Dec. 18, two of which were initiated by KMT lawmakers, and in the local elections next year, before building a successful campaign for the presidential elections in 2024.
The “1992 consensus” — a term that former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party CCP that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
During the meeting, Chu also named his three deputies — Chiayi Mayor Huang Ming-hui (黃敏惠), former Mainland Affairs Council minister Hsia Li-yan (夏立 言) and Sean Lien (連勝文), who lost the Taipei mayoral election in 2014 and is the son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰).
The congress also approved the appointment of former Taitung county commissioner Justin Huang (黃健庭) as the party’s secretary-general.
At the KMT, almost everything is the same with regard to China policy as before . The 1992 consensus, „One China, different interpretations“. The only change: Instead of „seeking common reason, while allowing differences“ it now reads „seeking common reason, while respecting differences“. Where is the big difference?
However,to rpevent a Chinese intervention , to protect Taiwan and how to do it, there are different approaches and different views within Taiwan and the USA.The Taipeh Times therefore published a comment which calls for cohesion between these views and a unity between the parties and their allies about the defence concept which promotes a so called “ procupine stratgey”. The new catchphrase „porcupine strategy“ for the defense of Taiwan.? This means an asymmetrical warfare, which does not want to destroy the opposing forces in the Taiwan Strait and mainland, but is supposed to prevent an invasion near the coast of Taiwan—with decisions to be made for the appropriate waepon procurement. To establish a unity seems to the author to be the real question for Taiwan and its allies.
“Ryan Hass On Taiwan: Taiwan’s leaders need to coalesce around a defense concept
For Taiwan, credible deterrence against Chinese military aggression requires the alchemy of multiple elements. These include a strong will to fight among the population, powerful military capabilities, and close coordination with other actors — including the United States and Japan — whose vital interests would be affected by any conflict. One of the most important elements, though, is strong and sustained internal cohesion in support of a clear defense concept.
Combining all these elements together is a formidable challenge. While there are ongoing debates about whether a PRC military attack is imminent, or whether an invasion is tied to any predetermined timeline, there is not debate over the observable reality that PRC military capabilities are expanding. With growing capabilities has come a growing willingness by Beijing to intensify military pressure on Taiwan. China’s dispatch of 148 warplanes through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in early October is but the latest reminder of this reality.
In the face of these trends, Taiwan’s leaders are forced to find a balance between several competing priorities. On one hand, Taipei needs to decide how to respond to Beijing’s growing grey zone military pressure. At the same time, Taiwan needs to develop capabilities to deter high-end military contingencies, including but not limited to full-scale invasion. And it needs to develop responses that fit within the scope of its fiscal constraints and reflect a sense of urgency to deal with any contingencies that may arise.
Fortunately, there has been deep and sustained thinking on these types of questions for some time. For over a decade, US and Taiwan military planners have been quietly deliberating over how Taiwan can most effectively defend itself. These discussions have carried forward through KMT and DPP administrations in Taiwan and cut across Democratic and Republican administrations in the United States.
A major output of these efforts has been the idea of a “porcupine strategy,” an approach that seeks to exploit Taiwan’s geographic and innovative advantages to create a painfully costly target for Beijing to seek to subdue. This approach moves Taiwan away from seeking to assert sea control, air superiority, and long-range strike capability toward an emphasis on preventing China’s ability to occupy Taiwan with military force. In this concept, Taiwan forces would concentrate the battlefield on their geographic advantages by attacking invading forces at their points of maximum vulnerability near Taiwan’s shores, rather than seeking to engage forces on the mainland or in the Taiwan Strait.
To work, such an approach requires Taiwan to acquire large amounts of small things that could signal to an adversary that any attempt to impose a military outcome on Taiwan would carry significant costs and risks. Capabilities that fit this profile include highly mobile coastal defense cruise missiles, short-range air defense, naval mines, mobile artillery, advanced surveillance assets, and unmanned aerial and unmanned underwater vehicles, among others. As David Helvey, one of the principal American intellectual contributors to the development of this asymmetric concept previously noted, all of these systems are “far less expensive to operate and maintain, and are more survivable, compared to more conventional platforms such as fighter aircraft or large naval vessels.”
In her May 2020 inaugural address at the start of her second term, President Tsai (蔡英文) seemed to embrace this approach, stating that her first national defense objective was “accelerating the development of our asymmetrical capabilities.” In subsequent public remarks, she said she was “committed to accelerating the development of asymmetric capabilities under the Overall Defense Concept.”
Tsai’s statement was warmly welcomed in Washington, where support for a “porcupine strategy” is generally quite strong in the US government and in the expert community. The seemingly uneven follow-through by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) in implementing the defense concept in the years since has raised more questions than answers, though.
There is a perception in some quarters of Washington that the asymmetric approach President Tsai endorsed has been stretched beyond recognition in recent years by a recalcitrant MND. According to this line of thought, the MND wants to preserve legacy systems and outdated defense concepts and is dragging its feet on major changes toward a more mobile, survivable force.
Ultimately, Taiwan’s leaders will need to be honest with the people of Taiwan about the threat Taiwan faces and the trade-offs that will be required to meet the threat. Tough decisions will need to be made and then carried out. Leaders will need to decide what military capabilities to prioritize. They will need to decide whether the goal is to try to destroy the adversary’s capabilities or deny its capacity to occupy Taiwan. They will need to determine the proper balance between spending on social services for an ageing society versus defense, and whether current tax revenue levels are sufficient to cover these dueling demands.
The greater alignment that Taiwan’s leaders of both major parties can reach on these questions, and the more enduring that Taiwan’s defense concept becomes, the greater the impact Taipei will have on their adversary’s calculations about the risks of using force in pursuit of political objectives. The risks facing Taiwan are significant, but conflict is not inevitable.
Ryan Hass is a senior fellow and the Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he also holds the Michael H. Armacost Chair in the Foreign Policy program.
And you also in the Taipeh Times find pleas against a Taiwanese conscription army and people’s militia ala Joseph Goebbel´s Kohlberg, Israel or Switzerland, including the question what could it do and how you should feed and supply it. As the authors says: Don´t speak about tactics, but about logistics which makes clear that this is an idiotic idea:
“An armed populace is not the answer
Instead of spending money on fantasy armies, Taiwan should be focusing on asymmetric warfare and ramping up cooperation with the US and Japan
By Michael Turton
Lately, as Beijing increases its threats, voices have begun arguing for Taiwan to increase the duration of conscription, or conscript everyone a la Israel or Switzerland.
These arguments are mere fantasies that there is an easy solution to the China threat, as if it will be scared off if our army is large enough. Indeed, it seems somehow a quintessentially Taiwanese solution: just add labor! Unfortunately, it isn’t what the nation needs.
Fundamentally, if a US-Japan alliance contest the air and sea space around Taiwan, then China cannot invade. At that point the size of the ground force on Taiwan wouldn’t matter. It would be superfluous.
Conversely, imagine the situation in which China has defeated the combined might of the US and Japan at sea and in the air. It now controls the space around Taiwan and can land troops at will.
Even if every human in Taiwan were conscripted and trained as a soldier, the outcome would not be doubt. Control of the air (and sea) means eventual defeat for defending forces, if the attacker is willing to pay the price.
China would not even have to invade. There’s an old saying: amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.
NUMBERS AREN’T THE ANSWER
Our reservists standing ready to fend off a Chinese invasion would have to be fed and clothed and armed. Fed? Taiwan imports something like 65 percent of its calories, but that number is deceptive. For example, on paper we are more than “self-sufficient” in seafood, but of course that involves ships going overseas, which they could not do in the face of Chinese sea control.
People often forget that our animal feed is also mostly imported. When COVID-19 hit last year, Argentina stopped shipping forage corn to Taiwan, which caused a food crisis among local pig farmers. Imagine if feed imports stopped completely under a Chinese blockade.
Nor can Taiwan simply ramp up food production. According to a report on Taiwan’s food security from the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and Pacific Region, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior has targeted 800,000 acres for farm production, but only 520,000 are actually in production.
The report notes that massive investment in technology firms has left agriculture bereft of investment in capital and advanced technology. The labor force is small, and the farmers old. Poor storage and shipping management means that 40 percent of fruit and vegetable production is wasted. These problems cannot be changed overnight.
The food issue cannot be emphasized enough. Even if there is no blockade, in the event of war international shippers are going to demand astronomical rates for moving things to Taiwan, to pay their skyrocketing insurance costs.
Neither the US nor Japan possesses the sealift to simultaneously carry out operations in the Pacific and supply 23 million people in Taiwan with food. Food prices in Taiwan will spike, and the poorest will die, a scenario repeated in countless wars throughout history.
In other words, the best employment for the fantasy army of Taiwanese reservists would be as agricultural laborers. If the Chinese settle down to blockade and siege, then that is likely where most conscripts will wind up.
Further, Taiwan imports almost all of its oil and basic raw materials for chemical and metal production. It also imports much of its advanced machinery, and of course, large quantities of industrial labor. All of that would grind to a halt under a blockade.
Food aside, a large reserve call-up would face insuperable problems of finding housing and weapons for the soldiers, all of which would have to be stored against that terrible day. It would mean the maintenance of a large corps of officers to permanently staff skeleton divisions ready to be expanded at any moment. It would mean inexperienced officers carrying out the call-up for real for the first time ever as invasion looms.
It would also mean the militarization of society. I think we all know what that would do to Taiwan’s democracy.
But let’s imagine that this massive reservist force can somehow be sustained and deployed against an invading Chinese army. With control of the air, the attackers are bombing anything that moves on land, killing the island’s electricity production, wrecking (or threatening to) nuclear plants, bombing water systems, irrigation infrastructure and rail lines. Fighting is constant, in densely populated urban areas, where scraggly militias contend with well-armed professional soldiers.
Prolonged armed resistance would simply mean what we are now seeing in Afghanistan and a thousand other places throughout history: widespread starvation, the reappearance of deficiency diseases, the wrecking of need infrastructure and mass death, especially of non-combatants. What a massive reserve force really means is pyres of dead, to no good end.
Nor would our fantasy reservists stop the population transfers. Stalin forcibly moved whole ethnic populations while at war with Germany. So will Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). Those car ferries constructed to transport tanks and soldiers to Taiwan will not return empty. They will be filled with Taiwanese hostages.
If the Chinese achieve control of the air and sea around Taiwan, and it appears that the US and its allies will be unable to wrest it back, at that point the best option is probably not further resistance. Again, our reservists will be superfluous.
Places like Finland and Israel face significant threats from land. That is why they have a large force of trained reservists who can be called up in the event of invasion. The threat to Taiwan is an invasion across water. For that the best answer is a small, highly-trained and mobile professional force that can squash an invasion before it establishes a beachhead.
Instead of spending money on fantasy armies, Taiwan should be (and is) focusing on asymmetric warfare, on pumping up production of missiles, mines, drones, fast attack boats and on basics like constant training. It needs to be ramping up cooperation with the US and Japan and with eastern European countries. Like Taiwan, they face a giant, rapacious neighbor. They get it.
Maybe one glorious day they will be able to change western European minds, and we will be able to expand our sources of weapons and training, and grow our allies.
That would be a lot more useful than a massive reserve force.”
However; while Chief of US Joint of Staff doesn´t belive in a coming war with China soon, former General Hodges thinks the “cynectic conflict” will come within the next 5 years and two authors of the neocon think tank American Enterprise Institute published an article in The Atlcantic which claims that the CCP always reacts militarily under two constellations: First when their demanded souvereignity and demanded spehers of influence get questioned and if the opposing side gives a window of opportunity. They quote the Korean war, the Ussuri war, the Chinese Vietnam expedition, the Taiwan crisis in 1995/96 as edamples for their thesis.
“What Will Drive China to War?
A cold war is already under way. The question is whether Washington can deter Beijing from initiating a hot one.
November 1, 2021
About the authors: Michael Beckley is a Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where his research focuses on U.S.-China competition, and is an associate professor at Tufts University. Hal Brands is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies US foreign policy and defense strategy, and is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
President Xi Jinping declared in July that those who get in the way of China’s ascent will have their “heads bashed bloody against a Great Wall of steel.” The People’s Liberation Army Navy is churning out ships at a rate not seen since World War II, as Beijing issues threats against Taiwan and other neighbors. Top Pentagon officials have warned that China could start a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait or other geopolitical hot spots sometime this decade.
Analysts and officials in Washington are fretting over worsening tensions between the United States and China and the risks to the world of two superpowers once again clashing rather than cooperating. President Joe Biden has said that America “is not seeking a new cold war.” But that is the wrong way to look at U.S.-China relations. A cold war with Beijing is already under way. The right question, instead, is whether America can deter China from initiating a hot one.
Beijing is a remarkably ambitious revanchist power, one determined to make China whole again by “reuniting” Taiwan with the mainland, turning the East and South China Seas into Chinese lakes, and grabbing regional primacy as a stepping-stone to global power. It is also increasingly encircled, and faces growing resistance on many fronts—just the sort of scenario that has led it to lash out in the past.
The historical record since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 is clear: When confronted by a mounting threat to its geopolitical interests, Beijing does not wait to be attacked; it shoots first to gain the advantage of surprise.
In conflicts including the Korean War and clashes with Vietnam in 1979, China has often viewed the use of force as an educational exercise. It is willing to pick even a very costly fight with a single enemy to teach it, and others observing from the sidelines, a lesson.
Today, Beijing might be tempted to engage in this sort of aggression in multiple areas. And once the shooting starts, the pressures for escalation are likely to be severe.
Numerous scholars have analyzed when and why Beijing uses force. Most reach a similar conclusion: China attacks not when it feels confident about the future but when it worries its enemies are closing in. As Thomas Christensen, the director of the China and the World Program at Columbia University, writes, the Chinese Communist Party wages war when it perceives an opening window of vulnerability regarding its territory and immediate periphery, or a closing window of opportunity to consolidate control over disputed areas. This pattern holds regardless of the strength of China’s opponent. In fact, Beijing often has attacked far superior foes—including the U.S.—to cut them down to size and beat them back from Chinese-claimed or otherwise sensitive territory.
Examples of this are plentiful. In 1950, for instance, the fledgling PRC was less than a year old and destitute, after decades of civil war and Japanese brutality. Yet it nonetheless mauled advancing U.S. forces in Korea out of concern that the Americans would conquer North Korea and eventually use it as a base to attack China. In the expanded Korean War that resulted, China suffered almost 1 million casualties, risked nuclear retaliation, and was slammed with punishing economic sanctions that stayed in place for a generation. But to this day, Beijing celebrates the intervention as a glorious victory that warded off an existential threat to its homeland.
In 1962, the PLA attacked Indian forces, ostensibly because they had built outposts in Chinese-claimed territory in the Himalayas. The deeper cause was that the CCP feared that it was being surrounded by the Indians, Americans, Soviets, and Chinese Nationalists, all of whom had increased their military presence near China in prior years. Later that decade, fearing that China was next on Moscow’s hit list as part of efforts to defeat “counterrevolution,” the Chinese military ambushed Soviet forces along the Ussuri River and set off a seven-month undeclared conflict that once again risked nuclear war.
In the late ’70s, Beijing picked a fight with Vietnam. The purpose, remarked Deng Xiaoping, then the leader of the CCP, was to “teach Vietnam a lesson” after it started hosting Soviet forces on its territory and invaded Cambodia, one of China’s only allies. Deng feared that China was being surrounded and that its position would just get worse with time. And from the ’50s to the ’90s, China nearly started wars on three separate occasions by firing artillery or missiles at or near Taiwanese territory, in 1954–55, 1958, and 1995–96. In each case, the goal was—among other things—to deter Taiwan from forging a closer relationship with the U.S. or declaring its independence from China.
To be clear, every decision for war is complex, and factors including domestic politics and the personality quirks of individual leaders have also figured in China’s choices to fight. Yet the overarching pattern of behavior is consistent: Beijing turns violent when confronted with the prospect of permanently losing control of territory. It tends to attack one enemy to scare off others. And it rarely gives advance warning or waits to absorb the initial blow.
For the past few decades, this pattern of first strikes and surprise attacks has seemingly been on hold. Beijing’s military hasn’t fought a major war since 1979. It hasn’t shot at large numbers of foreigners since 1988, when Chinese frigates gunned down 64 Vietnamese sailors in a clash over the Spratly Islands. China’s leaders often claim that their country is a uniquely peaceful great power, and at first glance, the evidence backs them up.
But the China of the past few decades was a historical aberration, able to amass influence and wrest concessions from rivals merely by flaunting its booming economy. With 1.3 billion people, sky-high growth rates, and an authoritarian government that courted big business, China was simply too good to pass up as a consumer market and a low-wage production platform. So country after country curried favor with Beijing.
Britain handed back Hong Kong in 1997. Portugal gave up Macau in 1999. America fast-tracked China into major international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization. Half a dozen countries settled territorial disputes with China from 1991 to 2019, and more than 20 others cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan to secure relations with Beijing. China was advancing its interests without firing a shot and, as Deng remarked, “hiding its capabilities and biding its time.”
Those days are over. China’s economy, the engine of the CCP’s international clout, is starting to sputter. From 2007 to 2019, growth rates fell by more than half, productivity declined by more than 10 percent, and overall debt surged eightfold. The coronavirus pandemic has dragged down growth even further and plunged Beijing’s finances deeper into the red. On top of all this, China’s population is aging at a devastating pace: From 2020 to 2035 alone, it will lose 70 million working-age adults and gain 130 million senior citizens.
Countries have recently become less enthralled by China’s market and more worried about its coercive capabilities and aggressive actions. Fearful that Xi might attempt forced reunification, Taiwan is tightening its ties to the U.S. and revamping its defenses. For roughly a decade, Japan has been engaged in its largest military buildup since the Cold War; the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is now talking about doubling defense spending. India is massing forces near China’s borders and vital sea lanes. Vietnam and Indonesia are expanding their air, naval, and coast-guard forces. Australia is opening up its northern coast to U.S. forces and acquiring long-range missiles and nuclear-powered attack submarines. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are sending warships into the Indo-Pacific region. Dozens of countries are looking to cut China out of their supply chains; anti-China coalitions, such as the Quad and AUKUS, are proliferating.
Globally, opinion polls show that fear and mistrust of China has reached a post–Cold War high. All of which raises a troubling question: If Beijing sees that its possibilities for easy expansion are narrowing, might it begin resorting to more violent methods?
China is already moving in that direction. It has been using its maritime militia (essentially a covert navy), coast guard, and other “gray zone” assets to coerce weaker rivals in the Western Pacific. Xi’s government provoked a bloody scrap with India along the disputed Sino-Indian frontier in 2020, reportedly out of fear that New Delhi was aligning more closely with Washington.
Beijing certainly has the means to go much further. The CCP has spent $3 trillion over the past three decades building a military that is designed to defeat Chinese neighbors while blunting American power. It also has the motive: In addition to slowing growth and creeping encirclement, China faces closing windows of opportunity in its most important territorial disputes.
China’s geopolitical aims are not a secret. Xi, like his predecessors, desires to make China the preponderant power in Asia and, eventually, the world. He wants to consolidate China’s control over important lands and waterways the country lost during the “century of humiliation” (1839–1949), when China was ripped apart by imperialist powers. These areas include Hong Kong, Taiwan, chunks of Indian-claimed territory, and some 80 percent of the East and South China Seas.
The Western Pacific flash points are particularly vital. Taiwan is the site of a rival, democratic Chinese government in the heart of Asia with strong connections to Washington. Most of China’s trade passes through the East and South China Seas. And China’s primary antagonists in the area—Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines—are part of a strategic chain of U.S. allies and partners whose territory blocks Beijing’s access to the Pacific’s deep waters.
The CCP has staked its legitimacy on reabsorbing these areas and has cultivated an intense, revanchist form of nationalism among the Chinese people. Schoolchildren study the century of humiliation. National holidays commemorate foreign theft of Chinese lands. For many citizens, making China whole again is as much an emotional as a strategic imperative. Compromise is out of the question. “We cannot lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors,” Xi told James Mattis, then the U.S. secretary of defense, in 2018.
Taiwan is the place where China’s time pressures are most severe. Peaceful reunification has become extremely unlikely: In August 2021, a record 68 percent of the Taiwanese public identified solely as Taiwanese and not as Chinese, and more than 95 percent wanted to maintain the island’s de facto sovereignty or declare independence. China retains viable military options because its missiles could incapacitate Taiwan’s air force and U.S. bases on Okinawa in a surprise attack, paving the way for a successful invasion. But Taiwan and the U.S. now recognize the threat.
President Biden recently stated that America would fight to defend Taiwan from an unprovoked Chinese attack. Washington is planning to harden, disperse, and expand its forces in the Asia-Pacific by the early 2030s. Taiwan is pursuing, on a similar timeline, a defense strategy that would use cheap, plentiful capabilities such as anti-ship missiles and mobile air defenses to make the island an incredibly hard nut to crack. This means that China will have its best chance from now to the end of the decade. Indeed, the military balance will temporarily shift further in Beijing’s favor in the late 2020s, when many aging U.S. ships, submarines, and planes will have to be retired.
This is when America will be in danger, as the former Pentagon official David Ochmanek has remarked, of getting “its ass handed to it” in a high-intensity conflict. If China does attack, Washington could face a choice between escalation or seeing Taiwan conquered.
More such dilemmas are emerging in the East China Sea. China has spent years building an armada, and the balance of naval tonnage currently favors Beijing. It regularly sends well-armed coast-guard vessels into the waters surrounding the disputed Senkaku Islands to weaken Japan’s control there. But Tokyo has plans to regain the strategic advantage by turning amphibious ships into aircraft carriers for stealth fighters armed with long-range anti-ship missiles. It is also using geography to its advantage by stringing missile launchers and submarines along the Ryukyu Islands, which stretch the length of the East China Sea.
Meanwhile, the U.S.-Japan alliance, once a barrier to Japanese remilitarization, is becoming a force multiplier. Tokyo has reinterpreted its constitution to fight more actively alongside the U.S. Japanese forces regularly operate with American naval vessels and aircraft; American F-35 fighters fly off of Japanese ships; U.S. and Japanese officials now confer routinely on how they would respond to Chinese aggression—and publicly advertise that cooperation.
For years, Chinese strategists have speculated about a short, sharp war that would humiliate Japan, rupture its alliance with Washington, and serve as an object lesson for other countries in the region. Beijing could, for instance, land or parachute special forces on the Senkakus, proclaim a large maritime exclusion zone in the area, and back up that declaration by deploying ships, submarines, warplanes, and drones—all supported by hundreds of conventionally armed ballistic missiles aimed at Japanese forces and even targets in Japan. Tokyo then would either have to accept China’s fait accompli or launch a difficult and bloody military operation to recapture the islands. America, too, would have to choose between retreat and honoring the pledges it made—in 2014 and in 2021—to help Japan defend the Senkakus. Retreat might destroy the credibility of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Resistance, war games held by prominent think tanks suggest, could easily lead to rapid escalation resulting in a major regional war.
What about the South China Sea? Here, China has grown accustomed to shoving around weak neighbors. Yet opposition is growing. Vietnam is stocking up on mobile missiles, submarines, fighter jets, and naval vessels that can make operations within 200 miles of its coast very difficult for Chinese forces. Indonesia is ramping up defense spending—a 20 percent hike in 2020 and another 16 percent in 2021—to buy dozens of fighters, surface ships, and submarines armed with lethal anti-ship missiles. Even the Philippines, which courted Beijing for most of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, has been increasing air and naval patrols, conducting military exercises with the U.S., and planning to purchase cruise missiles from India. At the same time, a formidable coalition of external powers—the U.S., Japan, India, Australia, Britain, France, and Germany—are conducting freedom-of-navigation exercises to contest China’s claims.
From Beijing’s perspective, circumstances are looking ripe for a teachable moment. The best target might be the Philippines. In 2016, Manila challenged China’s claims to the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration and won. Beijing might relish the opportunity to reassert its claims—and warn other Southeast Asian countries about the cost of angering China—by ejecting Filipino forces from their isolated, indefensible South China Sea outposts. Here again, Washington would have few good options: It could stand down, effectively allowing China to impose its will on the South China Sea and the countries around it, or it could risk a much bigger war to defend its ally.
Get ready for the “terrible 2020s”: a period in which China has strong incentives to grab “lost” land and break up coalitions seeking to check its advance. Beijing possesses grandiose territorial aims as well as a strategic culture that emphasizes hitting first and hitting hard when it perceives gathering dangers. It has a host of wasting assets in the form of military advantages that may not endure beyond this decade. Such dynamics have driven China to war in the past and could do so again today.
If conflict does break out, U.S. officials should not be sanguine about how it would end. Tamping or reversing Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific could require a massive use of force. An authoritarian CCP, always mindful of its precarious domestic legitimacy, would not want to concede defeat even if it failed to achieve its initial objectives. And historically, modern wars between great powers have more typically gone long than stayed short. All of this implies that a U.S.-China war could be incredibly dangerous, offering few plausible off-ramps and severe pressures for escalation.
The U.S. and its friends can take steps to deter the PRC, such as drastically speeding the acquisition of weaponry and prepositioning military assets in the Taiwan Strait and East and South China Seas, among other efforts, to showcase its hard power and ensure that China can’t easily knock out U.S. combat power in a surprise attack. At the same time, calmly firming up multilateral plans, involving Japan, Australia, and potentially India and Britain, for responding to Chinese aggression could make Beijing realize how costly such aggression might be. If Beijing understands that it cannot easily or cheaply win a conflict, it may be more cautious about starting one.
Most of these steps are not technologically difficult: They exploit capabilities that are available today. Yet they require an intellectual shift—a realization that the United States and its allies need to rapidly shut China’s windows of military opportunity, which means preparing for a war that could well start in 2025 rather than in 2035. And that, in turn, requires a degree of political will and urgency that has so far been lacking.
China’s historical warning signs are already flashing red. Indeed, taking the long view of why and under which circumstances China fights is the key to understanding just how short time has become for America and the other countries in Beijing’s path.
Sometimes you get the impression that the gentlemen from the AEI want to bring about a Sino-American war.
A German diplomat commented:” Thanks! The AEI has dug up the war hatchet again. The last time, Iraq 2003, it ended in disaster.”
German China expert Professor van Ess tried a friendlier interpretation of the AEI motives:
“Yes, it looks like it. At least one can understand it to mean that the gentlemen also write about the fact that the Chinese should not be pushed in the corner too much”..
According to this, one could put the Neocon authors of the AEI in their mouths in an optimistic interpretation of the whole thing a „deter, not provoke“. However, only under two conditions: That they have learned from the fiasco of the Iraq war they initiated with regard to the fatal consequences that would now take on completely different dimensions this time with a economic giant and not an alleged, but a real nuclear power and, secondly, that they have understood that China is not a desperate Arab despot, whom Albright described as „We have him in the box“, while these gentlemen saw this as an opportunity for war and as a weakness you have to exploit. Maybe they realize the difference, but think that provocations and crossing of red lines symbolizes strength and deterrence and that they don´t think of the face losing assaults for the CCP by their provocations which could trigger a military reaction. . Also interesting: The AEI people assume that China will lead their educational military campaign against the USA not first in Taiwan, but in the Philippines. It will also be interesting who will rule there after Duterte after the next elections. His daughter and son alongside a boxer and more pro-American characters from the old Aquino camp want to run in he coming elections.
The second important front is the conflict with Iran. While a reset of the Iran deal seems to more difficult than before, Israel is preparing for a Iranian proxy war in the case of an escalation of the US-Iranian conflict. But this time the IDF is not preparing for a war against the Gaza, but against Hezbollah in Lebanon as the Jerusalem Post reports:
“IDF drills for war with Hezbollah as tensions with Iran rise
Known as “Even Gazit” or “Hewn Stone,” the operation will see all echelons of Northern Command participate in the drills to improve offensive and defensive capabilities.
As tensions continue to rise with Iran, the Israeli military kicked off a month-long series of exercises simulating war on its northern border with Lebanon, to improve the preparedness of forces against Hezbollah.
Known as “Even Gazit” or “Hewn Stone” the exercises will see all levels of the Northern Command participate in the drills whose goal is to “improve the defensive and offensive capabilities of the IDF against a variety of scenarios,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
During the month, there will be drills and divisional exercises that will simulate “multi-front, intensive and drawn-out combat, with conscripted and reservist troops taking part, from all headquarters of the Northern Command, in collaboration with the General Staff directorates, the Ground Forces, Air Force, and Navy,” the statement continued.
Cyber and spectrum along with intelligence bodies will also take part in the drills that will also focus on the integration of all forces as part of the IDF’s “Victory” concept.
It comes alongside a surprise General Staff drill that examines the readiness of reserve forces in the Northern Command to respond to an explosive incident along the border with Lebanon.
During the exercise, calls will be made and text messages sent to reservists, some of whom will be asked to report to their units.
The IDF said that both drills were planned in advance as part of the 2021 training schedule.
The drills are also occurring alongside a major nationwide home front exercise that kicked off yesterday also simulating war against the Shi’ite terror army.
Last week the 401st Armored Division’s 9th Battalion held a two-week-long drill alongside infantry forces from the Nahal and Givati Brigades in the Jordan Valley.
Like the other two drills, it simulated drawn-out combat against Hezbollah in Lebanon and is working on joint maneuvering of forces.
The intensive drill also saw the use of intelligence collection by ground reconnaissance forces and drones in the air as well as support by the Air Force and Artillery batteries.
“We aren’t fighting alone, the power of the IDF means bringing intense firepower wherever needed,” said the Commander of the 9th Battalion, Lt.-Col. Eliezer A. “We want the firepower to get to where we need it to be before we get there.”
The Merkava Mark IV equipped with the Trophy active protection system used by the battalion, “are always in the front,” he said.
The IDF hasn’t conducted a proper ground maneuver in enemy territory since troops entered Gaza in 2009 during Operation Cast Lead. During Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the IDF and political leadership chose to rely mainly on the air force, keeping the ground troops and armored corps out of the Strip or in the border area to neutralize Hamas tunnels.
But the military knows that a war in the north will not be able to rely solely on the air force and has therefore been carrying out intensive drills in the northern part of the country simulating war with Hezbollah.
The 9th Battalion took part in the Second Lebanon War, but, Lt.-Col. A said, “a lot has changed since the last time we fought in Lebanon.”
“The 9th battalion fought in the battle of Wadi Saluki and had a lot of casualties,” he said. “The Nahal brigade also fought in Wadi Saluki and the joint cooperation between forces wasn’t as good as it is now…”
The battle of Wadi Saluki was one of the fiercest battles of the Second Lebanon War during the Litani offensive, a few hours before the UN-brokered cease-fire went into effect. Tanks from the 9th Battalion crossed the wadi and Nahal infantrymen had been deployed on the high ground outside Andouriya and Farun to provide cover for the tanks below who were facing fierce Hezbollah resistance.
Twelve IDF troops were killed, eight tankists and four infantrymen and some 80 Hezbollah militants were killed before the ceasefire went into effect in the early morning of August 14th.
Fifteen years later, both sides are learning and improving their battle plans for future confrontations.
“I think that since that battle, one of the main things we’ve learned is how to fight together,” Lt.-Col. A said. “The enemy is learning, but so are we.”
In a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, it seems that Israel will no longer rely only on airpower, but also wants to send ground troops to Lebanon like in the 1982 war .However, they hope that it won´t be a quagmire as Sharon´s desaster at that time.