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How the Battle With Taiwan May Go;a Scenario If China Attacks


MG is an air warrior with a distinguished career and now a corporate advisor, writer, and intrepid traveler and novelist



In 1949 after the civil war ended the Chinese communist party was able to prevail over the American's supported Nationalist party and became the de facto ruler of China. General Chiang Kai Shek the leader of the Nationalists( Kuomintang) escaped to Formosa. The island was earlier under the occupation of the Japanese. After Japan surrendered the island was like a no man's land. Chiang established his government there and promised that in the years to come he would return to the mainland. He could never come back as China consolidated its hold on mainland China. It always considered Formosa or Taiwan as part of China and vowed that one day they would regain the lost province. 70 years have elapsed but the Chinese have not been able to re-capture Taiwan. This is because of a variety of reasons and the main is the US and the seventh fleet which is committed to the defense of Taiwan.

The world has changed a lot since 1949 and now China is a superpower with a massive strike force and in contrast, the United States is weaker with successive defeats in three major wars namely Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan and it also has a leader Joe Biden who in the Chinese perception is not strong. His son Hunter Biden is alleged to have a dubious pecuniary connection with the Chinese. The Chinese are emboldened to try and re-capture the renegade province as it follows the one-China policy. The United States has accepted this concept of One -China as it was one of the pre-conditions put forward by China before the normalization of ties.

China under President Xi is now belligerent and many military theorists have concluded that within a short span of a year or two, China could mount an invasion of Formosa. The Chinese leadership has concluded that America will not commit ground troops to defend Taiwan and will try to use its massive force of aircraft carriers to blunt the Chinese attack.

Field marshal Montgomery has written that to win a war the infantry soldier must hold the ground. The Chinese are sure America will not commit ground troops and In such a scenario it's worth examining the chances of success if it launches an invasion of Taiwan.


Likely scenario

Many military theorists have opined that an imminent Chinese victory is in the offing. The matter is not so simple as China faces a grave danger on the eastern front which is going to cripple its relative advantage in the west. Firstly it has a live border of 3300 km with India where the Indians have kept almost 200,000 troops with the latest weaponry on alert. In addition, China's eastern provinces Tibet and Sinkiang are in the grip of an anti-Chinese movement. Sinkiang which is populated mainly by Uighur Muslims is fighting a war against China and the Tibetan people are restive. A Tibetan government in exile operates from India. The Dalai Lama the spiritual head of the Tibetan people is in India.

Two front war

We all know how Germany was defeated when It went in for a two-front war. I'm afraid the Chinese are well aware of this and any adventure against Formosa will have to be tempered with the fact of what is going to happen in the east. India is a formidable power and recent clashes with the Chinese have had the better of them. The Indian leadership will not like a confrontation with China but India is a member of the QUAD along with America which is primarily meant to counter China.

We should be very clear that China cannot fight a two-front war and it would like its eastern border to be kept quiet. This is not likely to happen because the Central Asian Muslim states are up in arms against China for persecuting the Muslims in Sinkiang. As is well known the Chinese have even banned fasting during Ramadan and forbidden the Burka. Over 100,000 Uighur Muslims men are in concentration camps.

There are over 2 million Tibetan refugees in India, many of who have now been inducted into the Indian army. China has to factor in all these things before thinking about an invasion of Formosa.

The Chinese would like to fight a conventional war but to mount the seaborne invasion of considerable magnitude across the strait of Taiwan is not easy with US 7th fleet ready. The Taiwanese have built up excellent defenses. China also has to be ready for the two Indian strike corps raised specifically for Tibet.

In such a scenario my personal view is China will not risk an invasion of Taiwan because it could very well turn sour and lead to a Chinese defeat and if that happens China will have to lose face in the world.


Drawbacks for China

One of the principles of war is morale. It is the mental and emotional condition of an individual or group to achieve the given task. This is the Achilles' heel of the Chinese army.

The Chinese had enforced a one-child policy for many decades. This has had an adverse effect because families in China have just one son and nobody wants their son to die in battle for nothing because the result would be that the family tree is finished. Almost 40% of the Chinese army is conscripted (they are drafted for a 4-year term). There is a psychological atmosphere created where that one son syndrome is coming to play. The only son dying in combat will extinguish the family tree. This creates a severe morale problem in the Chinese army and I do not know how the Chinese are going to get out of it.

China also cannot take Russia for granted, because as per the latest Chinese act passed, China has laid claim to all areas which at one time were part of China and many areas in Russia on the eastern side including Vladivostok were earlier part of China. The Russians are aware of it and I am not sure that they would be too happy with a Chinese victory because it would reduce the status of Russia from number 3 to 5 or six.


The Chinese would be making their own calculations but if you look at the map of Asia other than Pakistan and North Korea not a single nation is in favor of China. This is going to affect China badly. The Chinese economy also cannot sustain a war because 30% of the population is still poor and what skyscrapers you see are not the real face. The Chinese countryside remains poor. I can safely say that China will be biting off more than it can chew if it mounts an invasion of Taiwan. We will have to see whether China listens to the voice of reason or president Xi like Hitler and Mussolini decides on a megalomaniac dream. It is possible China is just brandishing the Sword and may not commit hara-kiri by launching a full-scale invasion of Taiwan. We will have to wait and see which way the coin spins.

What if the coin spins the other way?

When I was doing the Officers Staff Course at Wellington, we carried out many alternate courses of action of a military scenario. What I have written above is one aspect but there could be a second scenario. The Chinese have been practicing in the Gobi desert with models of United States aircraft carriers which they plan to hit with missiles. The Chinese have missiles that can hit the carriers and if they start the war against Taiwan, then the first thing they will do is to disable the US carriers. it remains to be seen whether the United States has the technical capability to negate the Chinese missile attacks. Secondly, in case the carrier fleet is disabled Taiwan will have very little to defend itself with because its Air Force and Army are too small and though the Chinese would suffer casualties they could prevail.

As far as the eastern front is concerned, the Chinese could have a border settlement with India. Narendra Modi does not want to fight China on behalf of the West and in case China has a border settlement with India the eastern border will be secure and China will have a free hand against Taiwan. In such a scenario victory for China over Taiwan is assured, unless the Americans escalate the war by launching missiles against China from the American mainland which I do not think the Americans will do. President Xi is also a shrewd man and he would have factored all these in his calculations; we will have to see which way the coin spins in the time to come.


1. If China Attacks Taiwan -military strategy, politics, and economics. Edited by Steve Tsang. Published April 6, 2006, by Routledge

2. Breaking the China-Taiwan Impasse (English, Hardcover, Zagoria Donald S.)

3. China: An A-Z by Strittmatter, Kai


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 MG Singh

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