Three Ways China might control Taiwan

The Institute for the Study of War has joined with the American Enterprise Institute, to analyze the situation between China and Taiwan. Their recent document proposes three methods China might use to gain control of Taiwan, and their assessment is that China is much more likely to annex Taiwan using methods far short of an invasion.

China’s Three Roads to Controlling Taiwan (March 13, 2023)

“Key Points:
* China seeks to gain full control of Taiwan through three distinct but interrelated campaigns: forceful persuasion, coercion, and compellence.
* American policy’s focus on compellence marginalizes strategies that counter China’s persuasion and coercion campaigns.
* China is more likely to achieve its goals through persuasion and coercion or a form of compellence, such as a blockade of the island, short of an amphibious invasion.
* The US must urgently rethink its defense of Taiwan so that it blocks all three roads to Chinese victory.”

Here is a link to the full PDF report on China and Taiwan. The following is a quote from the first paragraph of this report:

US policy to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggres-sion is overly focused on the risk that China will attempt an amphibious invasion of Taiwan. The US is not paying sufficient heed to Chinese efforts to regain control of Taiwan through persuasion and coer-cion, and US strategies to block a Chinese invasion may actually undermine efforts to block the persua-sion and coercion roads to Chinese success. Xi Jinping likely prefers to accomplish his aims by means short of war. Those roads offer Xi the prospect of success at much lower risk and cost than fighting a war. The US must develop strategies to defeat these campaigns while deterring an invasion.

We’ve already seen a military exercise by China, earlier in April 2023, in which they practiced surrounding Taiwan with ships and planes, in a virtual blockade. This type of force could compel Taiwan to accept unification with China, as Taiwan’s economy is almost entirely dependent on imports and exports.

China might also persuade Taiwan to accept defeat, without an invasion or a blockade, by threatening to destroy Taiwan’s industries and infrastructure. Taiwan would be forced to choose between poverty and hunger, or unification.

There is not much the U.S. can do to prevent China from persuading or compelling Taiwan to surrender to Chinese (CCP) control over the island. We cannot wage an effective war against China, so close to their shores and so far away from our shores. And any war between Taiwan and China would destroy Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, causing a worldwide severe semiconductor shortage with grave harm to the U.S. economy, defense, and infrastructure.

Quote from Euronews (5 April 2023):

Speaking to Euronews after a meeting on Wednesday of NATO foreign affairs ministers in Brussels, Antony Blinken shared his personal anxiety and warned of far-reaching and enormously damaging consequences if China makes a unilateral move against Taiwan.

“I heard this in conversations with many of our NATO allies as well as partners in Asia: there is concern that, were there to be a crisis as a result of China’s actions over Taiwan, that would have repercussions for quite literally every country on earth,” Blinken said.

“50% of global commercial traffic goes through the Taiwan Strait every day. 70% of the semiconductors that we need for our smartphones, for our dishwashers, for our cars, they’re made in Taiwan,” he went on.

“If there was some kind of crisis as a result of something that China did, that would have terribly disruptive effects on the global economy, which is why countries around the world look to everyone to behave and act responsibly.”

The above quote is from U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The U.S. govt is well aware of the dangers to the U.S. and the world from either a loss of the semiconductors that come from Taiwan, or China’s control of Taiwan and its semiconductor industry. That is why the CHIPS and Science Act was passed.

And the above cited report from the Institute for the Study of War and the American Enterprise Institute is right: China is very unlikely to invade Taiwan. They are much more likely to use various other means to take control of Taiwan, as the report explains at length: PDF of Report.

China has seen what happened with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and have learned a lesson. An invasion of another nation in the modern age is highly likely to fail or to be very costly in lives, weaponry, and funds. China will not make the same mistake in Taiwan that Russia made in Ukraine.

Also, a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would damage or destroy the semiconductor industry there. One important reason that China wants control of Taiwan sooner, rather than later, is to throw off the semiconductor restrictions imposed on China by the U.S. (Oct 2022 FDP rule, with cooperation from Netherlands and Japan obtained in Feb 2023). So China has a strong incentive not to invade, resulting in a loss to China of vast technological resources. But China has the means to compel Taiwan to accept unification and Chinese rule, so they have no need to invade to meet their goals.

Ronald L Conte Jr

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10 Responses to Three Ways China might control Taiwan

  1. James Belcher says:

    I am surprised China has not declared war on Taiwan via a naval blockade. The USA is currently very weak in the eyes of the world. I believe the elections of 2024 in the USA will dictate the actions of China towards Taiwan.
    Should China attempt a naval blockade beforehand. it will be very interesting to observe the fallout. I know here in the Philippines, the buildup of military bases is rapidly expanding with the USA. The Philippines Department of Defense has increased its spending to the amounts never seen before (probably with aid from USA).
    The naval blockade of Taiwan offers many scenarios (here are a few):
    – What imports and exports would be allowed to other countries?
    – What incidents could occur in not observing the blockade?
    – Do countries stop importing goods from China?
    – Does the USA, Japan and Australia Navy escort civilian ships for importing and exporting goods to/from Taiwan?
    – Does the USA, Japan and Australia Navy travel in international waters between China and Taiwan?
    – Does Taiwan stop exporting 38.8% to China and Hong Kong collectively?
    – Do other countries move in a direction of being isolationists and self-reliant?
    – Does Taiwan capitulate to China’s demands?

    I truly do not know the outcomes of a blockade but I am sure the one possible deterrent in not going forth with a blockade is the upcoming USA 2024 elections. Should China be sure the elections will continue the path of USA weakness around the world, the blockade will be their choice to persuade Taiwan to capitulate to China’s demands.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A naval blockade, probably accompanied by an air blockade as well, would likely send shockwaves through the stock markets around the world. It would also perhaps endanger commercial shipping, as 50% of shipping passes through that area. Another issue is shipping insurance. One of the reasons it is very difficult for Russia to export non-sanctioned goods, such as fertilizer, is that insurers do not want to insure. A blockade might have a similar effect.

  2. James Belcher says:

    I offer this post from the Manila Times —
    BEIJING: China will ban ships from entering an area north of Taiwan on Sunday due to “possible falling rocket wreckage,” a provincial maritime authority said, days after Beijing conducted large-scale military drills around the self-ruling island.
    The area, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the Taiwanese capital Taipei, will be closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the maritime safety administration of China’s southeastern Fujian province said on Thursday.

    My point is that China should caution the world shipping about “falling rocket wreckage”, China has no authority to declare the ban of ships entering 100 miles north of Taiwan.
    Once again, China is testing the resolve of the world.

  3. James Belcher says:

    The military exercises of Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and USA are rapidly progressing for any possible incursions by China. In addition, the USA and India are holding joint military exercises in northern parts of India. I am assuming these exercises going on simultaneously is a call for China to be very careful. The exercise being carried out with Taiwan and USA have additional personnel from 30 other countries.

  4. Siby says:

    I think you are severely over estimating China’s potential. USA is not the only country that doesn’t want China to take over Taiwan. India, Australia, Japan and a host of other nearby asian countries dont want it for strategic reasons. Its all a lot of aggressive posturing.

  5. Ben says:

    German foreign minister Baerbock supports recent statement of Macron on Taiwan
    From DW:

    First, France’s Macron said Europe shouldn’t follow the US on Taiwan. Then, Germany’s top diplomat said France’s China policy reflected the policy of the EU as a whole.

    “France’s Emmanuel Macron has prompted backlash by saying that Europeans should not be “followers” of either US or China when it comes to Taiwan and urging for more EU autonomy in international policy.

    Then, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tried to present a united front during a visit to China. Baerbock said that Macron’s response to criticism “once again emphasized that France’s China policies reflected EU China policies one-to-one.” While she did not clarify where Berlin stood on issue of the EU’s autonomy from the US, Baerbock said EU nations “pursue common strategic approaches,” and she focused on the economic dangers of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

    “A military escalation in the Taiwan Strait … would be a worst-case scenario globally and affect us as one of the biggest industrial nations in particular,” Baerbock said.

  6. Ben says:

    From the above exchange of Baerbock and Macron, can we see a rift in NATO on Taiwan, even if such a rift was avoided on Ukraine?

    The other question is, will USA send troops on the ground in Taiwan, as some US politicians said? (I think even Biden said something in that regard, but I don’t remember correctly to quote it, and perhaps he doesn’t remember it correctly either). Or we may see a Ukrainian style proxy war in which NATO, Japan, Australia will support Taiwan but will not send troops and ships for a real combat.

    And yes, forget about the cheap Chinese goods and electronics from Taiwan. Buy now all that you really need for preparation, besides the usual food /medicine stockpiles. Some items you may find very useful if electricity goes off, that are still available at relatively low prices: all kinds of flashlights and batteries, car batteries with higher capacity, interchangeable chargers and cables that can switch from one source to the other (seems a given thing but when you start doing it, you realize how important it is), solar batteries of various kind (like gardening lights that can serve well also indoors), generators if you can afford it, radios, metallic tools for gardening if you have a garden, seeds, extra blankets and warm clothes (if we manage to reach the winter without a big war, it may be the first winter with total disruption of oil supplies and peaks of energy and gas price to unimaginable levels).

    In response to a previous comment of James from Philippines, I also don’t understand why China hasn’t invaded Taiwan yet, after all provocations. Seems it s connected also to North Korea and the Ukraine war. When the green light will be given, all will happen at once, also in the Middle East. Until then, China and Russia obviously delay for reasons unknown. We all know that in the first days of the Ukrainian war, president Biden offered a plane to president Zelensky for evacuation due to the imminent danger of Kiev to be overrun. What followed was first a postponed Russian offensive (the 40 mile column of tanks and trucks) that later turned to withdrawal from Northern Ukraine. We don’t know the whole picture and all the strategy played.

    The biggest mistake one can make after such postponement, is to say it won’t happen in another 5-10 years, and to continue with his usual lifestyle as before (and none is a saint, neither fully prepared). I know very devote Catholics who think exactly in that way after each crisis until the next one. They pray indeed, but they don’t want to accept that all as a real thing. They ridicule and oppose the above logic after each time God gives the next delay, the next Mercy window of opportunity… Once all that will come to an end, most likely abrupt end not gradual. If there are another 10 years or more, then the seers will be dead and where are the promises of God then? I say that not because I want the destruction, but because I expect earnestly the coming Era of God’s grace and peace, and because I don’t want to hide my head in the sand.

  7. Ben says:

    posted one news, one comment, and now one video…a must watch video with David Pynes, deputy director of National operations for the EMP task force of National and Homeland Security. The interview discusses mainly but not only China-Taiwan, Korea, Ukraine, the possibility of a cyber attack, EMP, full nuclear exchange, oeaceful ways out of the crisis. Least but not last, David Pynes is a strong believer, expressed explicitly by him in previous interviews.

  8. Sunimal Fernando says:

    Only Catholics believe mother Mary and her messages. After death, only person appeared to this world as apperation, she is mother Mary in Lourdes in France (1950 or around),
    then in Fatima, Portugal.(1917 ,3rd secret of Fatima). These two are accepted by Vatican. But 1960-1965 Garbandal message and St. Malachi Pope list are not yet accepted by Vatican.
    I think, as someone here said, God can extend the grace period. Ron also said this world continue upto 2437 according to laselatte message.
    Then What’s the meaning of Garbandal message?
    1. Father PIO also confirmed.
    2. ” When Communism comes again, every thing will happen”
    In 1965 Communism was in Russia (Soviet Union) but it comes again means?
    I have seen above 1&2 in web, about 10 years before , that time Russia was good.
    But now we can see Russia, China, North Korea, Iran are all get together to form new Soviet Union and try to get control the world by not attacking USA and EU.
    Still Pope Francis is living and Conchita also.
    Wait and see. sometimes we’ll die before Jesus second coming in 2437 or before.

  9. James Belcher says:

    Our enemies do not fear us, our allies judge us unreliable, and neutrals assume America is in descent and too dangerous to join. This was a recent quote by Victor Davis Hanson. I am using his quote to possibly suggest that China is in a waiting mode for the eventual takeover of Taiwan. It appears to me, the new Axis power of the world is growing in a number of countries. The obvious members are Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. However, recently we have seen Saudia Arabia conclude a new pact with Iran, Egypt sending rockets to Russia to be used against Ukraine. And Turkey threatening Greece (a NATO member). In addition, we have China’s ever growing influence over South America and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador bragging that millions of Mexicans have entered the United States, most of them illegally. And why is he interfering in U.S. elections by urging his expatriates to vote for Democrats? France telling China they have no interest in China & Taiwan.

    The number of countries supporting a new Axis could be growing and could reach a number where China is assured victory over Taiwan.
    I worry about India and Japan. It seems oil is always an overriding factor on choosing sides during a global war. Japan and India are more dependent on the new Axis for oil than any other countries.

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