Defence of Taiwan

Sandhi Yudha

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A new record set by china.



Twice as much compared to begin september.
 

ngatimozart

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A new record set by china.



Twice as much compared to begin september.
Well it's the PRC national day so they have to beat their chests. Below is a NDA news broadcast that includes that story as well as other stories WRT to Taiwan and the PRC. It also mentions a protest in Hong Kong by four protestors about the protest leaders who have been imprisoned because of Beijing's illegal imposition of their National Security legislation.

 

Musashi_kenshin

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This story was originally run by the Wall Street Journal but I don't have a subscription.

I could be wrong but I thought the presence of US forces in Taiwan, including on training, was a "red line" for China. If so presumably this will be another time China fumes but doesn't retaliate.
 

ManteoRed

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I did a quick search and didnt see in the first page or two any particular thread that seemed to cover this topic in specific detail. I understand the nature of this type of conversation could lend itself to going off the rails into fantasy land so that may be the reason I didnt one, but anyway, thought since it seems to be one of the most likely flash points of the next decade or so might be worth at least attempting something like this.

I suppose to start off with, its important to keep in mind the limitations of Taiwan in regards to its ability to source foreign made hardware because of PRC pressure placed on any of those potential suppliers. For the last couple decades it seems to have been down to a carefully curated shopping list handed to them by the US government every few years. However with the steadily souring mood towards from many towards China do you think its possible they may see a few cracks of sunlight with regards to FMS from places like Japan/Australia/Britain, or hear me out on this one. Perhaps even the Russians.

I know those former countries are still somewhat dependent on China for commercial goods but if the PRC continues to throw its weight around, a diversifying of global supply chains may be what happens, which opens the door to less Chinese leverage. As for the Russians, some people think that China/Russia are tied at the hip, but I tend to look at Russia as willing to play all sides off against each other when they can. They're clearly cautious of the Chinese stealing there military technology, but there is also some occasional border tension between the two in the Russian far east. When it suits the Russians to stick a finger an the American eye they buddy up with China, when they get too close the Chinese seem to enjoy reminding them that they're expected to be the Junior party, which obviously irks Putin.

With the Chinese in an energy crunch, and the Russians supplying a lot of natural gas, the Russians may be the ones with a little more leverage than Xi would like. Though its possible that may be a bridge too far, actually causing a conflict by slowing energy supplies to a powerful nation that already feels like its being surrounded. Might end up being more heat than Putin would like. Just something to think about for the coming years though...
 

ManteoRed

New Member
Sorry I needed to split this up into a couple posts, it was getting long.

I guess that first post would be geo-political in nature, if were talking more tactical, I would like some of you guys opinions on what the Taiwanese have purchased from these US government shopping lists. There's always a lot made of them purchasing F-16's and those OHP frigates that were handed off a few years ago, but those seem like costly and less valuable assets to my way of thinking.

If you're Taiwan,
1) never going to be able to go on the offensive in the sense of landing on the mainland
2) never going to outnumber them in most any serious sense.

So it seems like especially those Frigates are a total budgetary drain in the event of an actual conflict. Sending them out into the Straight seems like a cruel waste of lives for no foreseeable gain. The only use I could imagine for them is to essentially weld them to the dock and leave only enough crew on board to man and operate the onboard air defense systems.

As for the F-16s, they would be going up into the sky heavily out numbered, and even over the RoC, Chinese ground based SAM's from the mainland have at least some coverage that far out. So whats the plan? Do you send them and out to sea and hope to take long range pot shots at incoming PLA-AF aircraft?
 

ManteoRed

New Member
I dont know that any of this is publicly available, but something that seems to be the most valuable in terms of defense is also something relatively low tech and inexpensive. Preparing the battlefield. Identify which beaches could support an amphibious invasion, have tank traps nearby ready to be rapidly deployed, and perhaps offshore underwater systems to trap/bottleneck incoming vehicles/landing craft. Also multiple transport links(not just a single road). Would need to rapidly flow in enough forces to meet them on the beach.

And second, air defense systems, deep, mobile and heavily layered. Deny the PLA ground/naval forces close air support for as long as possible.

Am I wrong in thinking that even with the Chinese government there are limits to the amount of lives they can waste on this? If you can make it painful enough will it cause them to pull back, or do you believe they would continue to throw men into a meat grinder?
 

OPSSG

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Post 1 of 4: Explaining the concepts of deterrence & relative combat power in reply to ManteoRed

Preparing the battlefield. Identify which beaches could support an amphibious invasion, have tank traps nearby ready to be rapidly deployed, and perhaps offshore underwater systems to trap/bottleneck incoming vehicles/landing craft. Also multiple transport links(not just a single road). Would need to rapidly flow in enough forces to meet them on the beach.
1. Thanks for starting this thread. To support your initiative, I have moved or copied 12 pages of older discussions by various DT members into this thread for your reference, as they are relevant to a PLA attack on Taiwan discussion. But I am not speaking as to the likelihood of success in such an attack.
(a) Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People in Oct 2021, President Xi said: “Reunification through a peaceful manner is the most in line with the overall interest of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan compatriots… No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s staunch determination, firm will, and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi said. “The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will definitely be fulfilled.” He added: “The Taiwan question is purely an internal matter for China, one which brooks no external interference.”​
(b) As I said before, war between China and Taiwan by an invasion of the main islands, is very unlikely for the duration of Biden’s term as US President. While war is unlikely, it does not mean China’s force build up is not a concern. The U.S. Secretary of the Navy Del Toro told a small group of reporters that he had reviewed Gilday’s distributed maritime operations concept and Berger’s Force Design 2030 plans and was satisfied that both were the right directions for the services to move in. Now he just needs to put the right resources behind those plans. Del Toro confirmed that the U.S. Navy, even as it awaits a fiscal 2022 spending plan from Congress, has already submitted its FY23 plan to the Pentagon and the White House for review and has starting early planning efforts for FY24.​
(c) Looking at Taiwan, we need to consider the formula below, where the strength of deterrence (D) as military force (F) is multiplied by the ability to use such firepower (A). In other words:​


The D=FxA formula explain why countries armed with nuclear missiles, like the U.S. and Russia, failed to deter terror attacks on their soil. FxA also explains why South Korea has to tolerate North Korea’s sinking of it’s navy ship and artillery attack on its territory in 2010.​

2. While the PLA’s intensified sea and air drills in the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone — and the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙島) threat from China’s military, D=FxA explains why no fighting has occurred — in reality the PLA’s willingness or ability to use force is low. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has responded to increase D by garrisoning the Marine Corps on the Pratas Islands, ostensibly to conduct off-shore training, but in reality to bolster its defences. IMO, a Chinese attack on Taiwan might possess certain key characteristics:

(a) a crippling first strike, occurring without warning signs or suddenly escalating when least expected. China’s objective would be to impose a political settlement before the US and Japan could effectively intervene;​
(b) mass cyberattacks would target Taiwanese C4I Systems. Activation of cells of Chinese agents embedded within Taiwanese society to engage in acts of assassination, disinformation, or sabotage; and​
(c) thousands of follow-on SRBM strikes (after the 1st strike), to last over 42 days, used for facilitating Chinese air operations over the Strait and Taiwan. Chinese air control would likely be viewed as a key prerequisite for a successful naval and amphibious campaign.​

I dont know that any of this is publicly available, but something that seems to be the most valuable in terms of defense is also something relatively low tech and inexpensive.
3. In the last 5 years, all the low hanging fruit, for Taiwanese force improvements, have been plucked. All easy steps have been taken. What follows to raise, train and sustain fighting brigades, with fighting cohesion, is more difficult. Some of these prior discussions are long and considered, including at post #199 (The Taiwan factor in regional calculations) that is spread over 6 posts, by me. I have provided specific information about what is needed to train a conscript to fight in an urban environment (with a video on ROE shoot — which is very complicated).
(a) In Sep 2015, an eight-man SAS team was ambushed in Syria by at least 30 militants, while smuggling a secret agent into Syria. The SAS team was “out-gunned and out-numbered” but regained the initiative “by using courage, aggression and firepower.” In fact, one SAS soldier outgunned six militants. Eventually, the SAS team eliminated the ambush and killed eight militants — Admiral McRaven, has a theory of how a small force can achieve relative superiority (where he draws a graph to show an area of vulnerability).​
Q1: Does the quality of soldiers matter more than their quantity?​
(b) I will explain the Lanchester Square Law and link it to the concept of Relative Combat Power (RCP), in the next 3 posts. And RCP is defined as the effectiveness of a force in killing an enemy. If you do a like for like comparison — the SAF’s regular infantry companies (due to the 5 month combat qualification course) are better trained that Taiwanese equivalent processionals — likewise the SAF’s conscripts are a golden mile ahead of Taiwanese conscripts.​
(c) If the Taiwanese infantry conscript is not trained to a minimum standard, they will end up shooting their own civilians and adjacent Taiwanese units — it is my considered view that Taiwan does not invest in well trained and confident conscripts to execute (when they are under fire). They have no hope of training these Taiwan soldiers to Singapore’s minimum standards — the SAF trains it to the level of muscle memory.​
(d) Taiwan’s NS duration is a summer camp, with only basic weapons familiarisation. This means the Taiwanese can’t fight. They have seen Singapore conscripts train in Taiwan and they know they can’t match the level of realism in training, due to the huge difference in physical training standards — be it in basic physical conditioning, mental preparation for operations, tactics, or ROE driven shooting.​
(e) Standards matter. As such, the SAF maintains capabilities and standards for each specialist conscript vocation, like the Guards. The Guards Cadre (of trainers) exist to give confidence to junior officers & NCOs. For any SAF battalion to be operational, they are tested at a battalion level for their proficiency in operations in a two sided exercise — exercises are conducted to make our infantry conscripts experience failure and to learn from it; as part of the after action review process conducted by the trainers.​
(f) In contrast to Taiwan’s lack of robust standards for their conscripts, Singapore’s infantry conscripts at an individual skills level are trained to shoot at a head and shoulder sized target at 100 metres and when close-in (15 metres or less), they can shoot at specific parts of a body, when the ROE does not allow shoot to kill. After 22 months of training, Singapore’s conscripts go into the reserves with annual unit proficiency training and are ready to be mobilised for battle in ‘x’ hours for contingency operations under 2PDF’s CONOPS for homeland security.​
(g) Our citizens are especially proud of our German trained conscript tank crews — go watch the YouTube video on Ex Panzer Strike — these armour vocation troops are able to shoot to kill enemy tanks while on the move at Company level (12 to 14 tanks), with their Leopard 2SGs — which enables a SAR to deliver violence of action, for attacking without pause.​
 
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OPSSG

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Post 2 of 4: Explaining the concepts of deterrence & relative combat power in reply to ManteoRed

4. Recognizing the poor quality of training for Taiwan conscripts, is problem with the ROC Army, but actually doing something to deal with that problem are two different issues, but if Taiwan does not have the recognition, its actions are never going to change enough to enable help to reach them. The quality of Chinese troops has increased by leaps and bounds. In 2019, the PLA came to Singapore for a bilateral exercise and we are able to observe their drastic improvements in capability.
(a) After the HK Terrex episode, in 2017, Singapore even had to assure Taiwan that our military training agreement relating to Exercises Starlight and High Noon will stay. Compared with Taiwan and South Korea, Singapore’s NS gives its draftees the most days off, pays them the highest relative to GDP per capita, and has the best safety record.​
(b) Unlike the Americans and Australians, China’s PLA is not a preferred partner for the SAF; the so-called joint training between Chinese and Singaporean troops are what I call ‘confidence- and security-building measures’ and low level TTP exchanges. Some level of exchange of info is necessary to enable future non-combat operations (eg. NEO), should the need arise.​
(c) China’s self defeating approach extends far beyond the Nov 2016 HK Terrex episode (where Chinese intelligence caused HK to detain Singapore’s armoured vehicles being shipped back from Taiwan), due to their tone and one sided nature of communications — earning the distrust of another ‘neutral,’ who has now entered the F-35B club in Asia, along with Japan.​
(d) Singapore's recent purchase of the F-35B fighter jets is part of the vital and longstanding relationship shared between the two countries, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Mr Rene Clarke Cooper, said on 10 Feb 2020. Speaking to global media, Mr Cooper also said that “the US-Singapore partnership is one very clear tangible example of the United States' commitment to a very free and open Indo-Pacific for all states in the region," he added. The US government has approved the sale of up to 12 F-35Bs to Singapore, the first sale to a country in South-east Asia.​
(e) MINDEF's response to the heightened contestation is to remain friends with all. The SAF continue to work with like-minded partners to forge a security architecture that is inclusive for big or small countries, and in which disputes are resolved through peaceful means. The government of Singapore announced on 16 Feb a 2021 defence budget of SGD15.36 billion (USD11.56 billion). The new allocation, which amounts to about 15% of total government outlay for the year, is a 12.7% increase over the revised 2020 defence budget of SGD13.63 billion but just a 1.8% increase compared to the original 2020 expenditure of SGD15.08 billion. These factors, coupled with the tri-service integration of the training of Singaporean army conscripts demonstrates that Singapore has found a 22 month schedule that works ⁠— the only thing lacking is combat-provenness.​

5. Have a read of my six prior posts (The Taiwan factor in regional calculations) and let me know what you think. Please forgive my frank response to follow on some of your more problematic ideas — because as a discussion community, we care about your inputs and hope to assist in the development of your ideas.

Am I wrong in thinking that even with the Chinese government there are limits to the amount of lives they can waste on this? If you can make it painful enough will it cause them to pull back, or do you believe they would continue to throw men into a meat grinder?
6. Your thinking on this matter needs to mature, in the face of input from other members here. Once shooting starts, the PLA have a demonstrated capability to continue in the face of losses to achieve their strategic objectives — read the proud history of the PLA and their current doctrine in the face of their modernisation efforts.
(a) The Chinese leadership mindset and tolerance for losses will make your knees go weak. The Korean War, is a good example of Chinese loss tolerance.​
(b) In their recent article (“American Support for Taiwan Must Be Unambiguous,” September 2), Richard Haass and David Sacks correctly note that China’s coercive tactics and military buildup are eroding deterrence in the Taiwan Strait. But their proposed solution—a U.S. security guarantee for Taipei—would not solve that problem and might even provoke a Chinese attack.​
(c) To reduce the chances of war, Team Biden needs to signal credibly that Beijing would pay a high price for invading Taiwan. Washington cannot, however, make its willingness to defend Taiwan unconditional.​

7. Watch the above video in which Bonnie S. Glaser explains:

China’s current strategy is not to invade but to induce a sense of despair in the Taiwanese.​

And there are other military conflict scenarios I am more afraid of than a simple blockade of the main island of Taiwan — where the chance of occurrence is more than 10%. For example, raise a fake dispute or event over Kinmen Islands and use that as an excuse not to allow Taiwanese flights or Taiwanese coast guard ships to approach them. There is no invasion or blockade of the main island and it forces a disproportionate response. The PLA(N)’s surface force of over 450 ships can carry a variety of anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles to force an Australian Naval Task group in the 2030s, to exercise emissions control, while striking from over the horizon, with one barrage of missiles. Even the very capable JMSDF with their 4 huge escort fleets will struggle in the 2030s.

If you're Taiwan,
1) never going to be able to go on the offensive in the sense of landing on the mainland
2) never going to outnumber them in most any serious sense.
8. From a tactical perspective for an island defence, not correct. I am concerned that you (as a long time member), don’t seem to understand basic war fighting concepts — the Taiwanese Army needs to and will conduct large scale spoiling counter-attacks at brigade strength, in each division sector. Let me expand on a basic concept, for the discussion to be meaningful. Relative combat power (RCP) as a concept needs to be understood, including the use of reserves for spoiling counter attacks. How RCP is to be applied is detailed below.

Blue Lower quality than RedBlue Same quality as RedBlue Greater quality than Red
Blue with smaller numbers than RedAvoid battleAvoid battle, apply Tactics of Division if unable to avoid battleApply Tactics of Concentration
Blue same numbers as RedAvoid battle, apply Tactics of Division if unable to avoid battleApply Tactics of DivisionApply Tactics of Concentration
(a) The Lanchester Square Law allows us to compare the RCP of two fighting forces and anticipate the outcome of battle. There are 3 points that needs to be highlighted, as follows:​
(i) RCP of a force is not the number of units; but​
(ii) the RCP is proportional to the square of the number of units and proportional to the quality of units; and​
(iii) if we know the qualities and numbers of two forces at the start of a battle, we can tell the outcome.​
(b) If Blue forces are outnumbered but are of greater quality, they can defeat a Red enemy force of lower quality. Commanders should use Tactics of Concentration—to divide the Red forces into smaller groups, so that Blue forces have greater quantity and quality (and so greater RCP) in each battle against the smaller groups of Red forces. The Blue forces can take on these smaller groups of Red forces one by one, eventually wiping them out.​

(c) If Blue forces have greater numbers but of lower quality, they can defeat a smaller enemy force of greater quality. Commanders should use Tactics of Numbers—to prevent the Red forces from dividing Blue forces (i.e. prevent Red forces from using Tactics of Concentration against them).​
 
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OPSSG

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Post 3 of 4: Explaining the concepts of deterrence & relative combat power in reply to ManteoRed
(d) If Blue and Red forces are evenly matched in numbers and quality, commanders should not fight the enemy head-on. Instead, commanders should use Tactics of Division—to use terrain, time and location to set up a battle favourable to them. This could involve the deliberate setting of decoys, traps and surprise manoeuvres.​
(e) If you understood the concept of RCP as explained above, it does not matter (as much) that during the initial stages, Taiwanese F-16s, are going up into the sky out-numbered; and they, as the Blue force, have certain specific tactics to set up a battle favourable to them.​
9. Despite an annual defence budget of US$16.89 billion for FY2022 (from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2022), let me say again that Taipei is Kabul on steroids due to decades of under investment. Lots of rage from the online media in Taiwan but actually impotent, when it comes to raising, training and sustaining a force. For clarity, let me add some points:
One, in the distant past due to RCP, the numerically inferior Taiwan’s Army successfully pushed off a PLA landing before in the Battle of Kinmen, with tanks. The tank platoon fired until they ran out of ammo and proceeded to drive over PLA infantry. No quarter was given, then.​
Two, in 2020, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), said the Taiwan Army is planning the purchase of the most advanced tanks to speed up the pace at which it replaces old models while remembering a soldier killed in a M41A3 tank accident in Kinmen County. One soldier -- Sergeant Lin Kai-chiang (林楷強) -- was killed in an accident involving a M41A3. The light tank (as part of the Kinmen Defense Command's Lieyu Garrison Battalion), was heading back to its base at the end of a drill when it crashed into the embankment, near Lieyu Township. After this death, the Taiwanese plan to replace the M41A3 tanks, with the M41D, a modified and more modern version of the Walker Bulldog (that is equipped a new 76-mm gun M32K1, a Detroit Diesel 8V-71T engine, and thermal imaging sights).​
Three, due to RCP concerns and the danger of the forces in the Kinmen islands being flanked, the Taiwanese are not going to defend the Kinmen islands with Taiwan’s most capable tanks — the 108 M1A2T Abrams (to be delivered in batches).​
Four, Taiwanese army personnel are expected to be sent to the US for training and acceptance of new main battle tanks (MBTs) in 2022. The M1A2Ts are expected to be delivered to Taiwan from 2023 onwards. The first 18 MBTs will be used for train-the-trainer (to be conducted in the U.S.) in 2022; with another batch of 18 to be delivered directly to Taiwan in 2023, a further 28 in 2024, the next 30 in 2025 and the remaining 14 in 2026, Taipei Times reported.​
Five, there is a stain on Taiwanese character that cannot be bleached out by time; as there are multiple incidents of Taiwanese pilots defecting with their aircraft to mainland China and these include:​

(i) on 8 Aug 1981 flying a F-5F, by Maj. Huang Zhicheng and landing at Fuzhou;​

(ii) on 11 Feb 1989, flying a F-5E, by LTC Lin Xianshun and landing at Fengshun; and​

(iii) on 3 May 1986 (from HK on a return trump from Bangkok to Taiwan), by Cpt. Wang Xijue who handcuffed his co-pilot (and flew a Boeing 747-200F from China Airlines), landing in Guangzhou Bay International Airport.​

Wang’s defection notably forced Taipei to reverse its pledge to never contact the Beijing government, and is credited with sparking the beginning of a renewal of cross-straits relations between the two rival Chinese governments from 1986 onwards.​

10. Going forward for the defence of the main island, at the point of landing, at the beachhead, Taiwanese MBTs (along with its supporting armoured infantry) in a brigade sector, mustering its RCP, must kill enough to ensure that they out number the PLA’s first and second waves — if they fail to do so the PLA would breakout of the beachhead and the Taiwan Army would be forced to counter attack, rather than reinforce existing forward positions. Reinforcement is morale boosting. Losing the position and counter attacking is morale sapping.

So it seems like especially those Frigates are a total budgetary drain in the event of an actual conflict. Sending them out into the Straight seems like a cruel waste of lives for no foreseeable gain. The only use I could imagine for them is to essentially weld them to the dock and leave only enough crew on board to man and operate the onboard air defense systems.
11. You are a member since Apr 2012. Therefore, I am surprised that your proposed cure is worse than the problem. In the era of precision guided glide bombs, a Taiwanese navy ship needs to remain mobile, launch decoys (like Nulka), to have a better chance of survival. These are concept issues. To cure these concept related problems, please read, “Air Power 101 for New Members” and watch this video on Ex Pacific Griffin, held in Guam in 2017, 2019 and 2021 (that latest was held from June 21 through to July 7), for some basic naval war fighting tactics in modern navies.

12. If shooting starts, Taiwanese hope for prompt American or Japanese reinforcements by sea will not materialise. In part because PLA(N) submarines will remain a potent threat for months and they will hinder attempts at reinforcement. As a recent report by the US Congressional Research Service points out, while China’s current submarine force is now quantitatively smaller than it was in 1990, it has ‘greater aggregate capability than it did in 1990, because larger numbers of older, obsolescent boats have been replaced by smaller numbers of more modern and more capable boats’. A staff report for the US–China Economic and Security Review Commission puts the trend towards a more formidable Chinese submarine fleet by 2020 into a table:

China’s Submarine Fleet, 1990–2020

Type1990199520002005201020152020
Diesel Attack884360515457-6259-64
Nuclear Attack (SSN)455666-86-9
Nuclear Ballistic(SSBN)111233-54-5
Total934966596366-7569-78
The report also notes the ongoing modernisation of the fleet, defining ‘modern’ submarines as those able to launch ballistic missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).

China’s Submarine Fleet, 1990–2020, approximate percent ‘modern’

Type1990199520002005201020152020
Diesel Attack0%0%7%40%50%70%75%
Nuclear Attack0%0%0%33%33%70%100%
That assessment is underlined by recent Congressional testimony from the US Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI). The ONI also expects that by 2020 the ‘vast majority’ of China’s submarine force will be armed with ‘advanced, long-range ASCMs’.
 
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OPSSG

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Post 4 of 4: Explaining the concepts of deterrence & relative combat power in reply to ManteoRed

13. To deter the PLA, professional war planners in Taiwan have invested significant time, effort and intelligence gathering resources to gain a better understand the PLA’s force structure — so as to generate realistic enemy courses of action or ECAs.

(a) To my simple mind, PLA’s force structure is MLRS and artillery heavy, as they place great emphasis on these support arms to engage in attrition of Taiwanese forces. It’s a much harder fight, when ROC Army is forced to retake a lost position than to reinforce an existing defence line, as part of its own course of action or OCAs.​
(b) Once a PLA force is secure enough (to allow follow-on forces to land on the beachhead), one possible ECA of the PLA is to push in a MLRS or artillery system. If such an unlikely ECA happens, it can quickly affect the RCP of the Taiwanese defenders — especially if Taiwanese forces are hit with an barrage while on the move to reinforce a position.​
Some Key Terms Defined for Readers
(1) Strategy - The overall concept of using military power to achieve political and/or military ends

(2) Tactics* - The art of winning battles and engagements (and this idea is always tied to a specific area of operations, usually at a lower level of command and against a specific enemy)

(3) Battle - A violent collision of forces at a specific time and place

(4) CONOPS - The planned positioning and movement of forces to gain an advantage over the enemy

------------------------------------------------------------
Note: *The following definition of tactics may also be used:
(i) The employment of units in combat (FM 3-0).

(ii) It includes the ordered arrangement and maneuver of units in relation to each other, the terrain and the enemy to translate potential combat power into victorious battles and engagements. (FM 3-0 & FM 3-90).
14. The correct strategy for Taiwan is to bandwagon it’s interests with Japan to achieve political and/or military ends. After the alignment of geo-political interests, Taiwan needs to go about acquiring the correct military platforms (or equipment), to execute its island defence CONOPS. Only with the execution of the correct tactics can Taiwan win its battles. To address the above concern, there are two concentric defensive rings, the ROC Army can consider investing in, to increase FxA to enhance deterrence of the PLA.

(a) For the ROC Army to increase force or F, they are investing in suicide drones, anti-landing craft missile defences and anti-ship missile defences, in multiple layers, to prevent any PLA amphibious landing is obviously a crucial first outer ring by a special budget for additional defence spending over the next five years (see paragraph 16(a) below for details of these budget measures).​
(b) The RCP discussions in paragraphs 8 to 10 above on improving the fighting ability of the ROC Army to enable a spoiling counter-attack in force is the next ring of defence — should the PLA attempt to breakout of the beachhead. For the ROC Army to increase their ability or A, they next have to focus on investing in sufficient quantities of new armoured vehicles and 8x8 war fighting concepts and capabilities (from year 6 to year 10 onwards, after the US$9 billion is spent), in the ROC Army capability development roadmap. At that stage, standards for equipping of each battalion and for their training cycle becomes more important to the discussion.​

15. The quality verses numbers debate is a common feature of many military discussion forums but I hope by explaining the concept of RCP, and some of the maths (as provided in the link), forum members can get an idea of how AI is used to determine the most dangerous ECA -- in planning, its not only the most likely ECA that a planner worries about. Most often good quality troops in a defensive section can win but not always. The interesting questions are:

Q2: Why are there times when good quality troops with a good plan fail in battle?​
Ans: I have a proposed answer to Q2 but would rather not answer it here -- to encourage discussion. A part of the answer, the concept of OODA or observe–orient–decide–act, is explained in AirPower 101 for New Members.​
Q3: What are the determining factors which decide which side wins a particular battle and under what CONOPS?​
Ans: Again I have a proposed answer to Q3 but would rather not answer it here -- to encourage discussion.​

16. Besides the factor of the naked will to win, which cannot be determined in advance, there are associated concepts on RCP that affect the ability of a defender to fight. Therefore, it is no surprise that sources have reported that:

(a) Taiwan plans to set aside an extra US$9 billion as a special budget for additional defense spending over the next five years as it prioritizes long-range and anti-ship weapons in the face of ongoing pressure from China; and​

(b) a small contingent of around 20 U.S. special operations and conventional forces has been conducting the training for less than a year, the official, who declined to be identified. Some of the trainers rotate in and out. The training has been going on for at least a year, amid China’s rising verbal threats against Taiwan — this will ensure that the USSOCOM is able to demonstrate its relevance to Great Power competition and engage in sense and strike, should the need arise. A single ODA team will make a huge difference in any Taiwanese division sector’s fight, if air power is relevant.​

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report of U.S. forces in Taiwan, but Pentagon spokesman John Supple said that generally speaking, U.S. support for Taiwan’s military is gauged on its defense needs.
 
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STURM

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The Chinese leadership mindset and tolerance for losses will make your knees go weak. The Korean War, is a good example of Chinese loss tolerance.
Fully agreed. The Korean war however was a very long time ago, the PLA had no choice but to accept horrendeous manpower losses to compensate for American superiority in the air, firepower, etc. It was a war they knew they were not ready for but one which from their perspective they had to enter. The Chinese [from what they picked up from the Soviets and also from experiences gained during the Civil War] made it a point [when possible] to attack on multiple axis, to reinforce success rather than failure, to rely on deception measures, etc, but due to various shortcomings still had to rely on human wave attacks and accept that huge losses were unavoidable.

Given that the PLA has not seen any recent combat [the short war with Vietnam was in 1979] and that it has steadily narrowed the gap between itself and potential opponents [it is a very different army from the one which fought against Vietnam, India and the Soviets - all more recent examples of wars/clashes compared to the Korean war], does the PLA leadership still have the same mindset/attitude with regards to huge combat losses as it did 70 odd years ago in Korea when it had little choice?

Sure, in the event it felt it had to land in Taiwan, it understands and accepts that losses will be high but does the PLA still have the same level of loss tolerence? Another vital question is does the Chinese public [it has undergone a rapid change in recent times and despite goverment control has wide access to foreign news] have a high loss tolerence level?

We can speculate based on what we know and we think we know but like many things, we won't know for sure until it actually happens.
 
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OPSSG

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Part 1 of 3: An inchoate reply to STURM’s Qns

…does the PLA leadership still have the same mindset or attitude with regards to huge combat losses as it did 70 odd years ago in Korea when it had little choice?
1. Thanks for your questions. If the CCP under President Xi feels that it’s hand was forced by DPP, yes. It’s a core mission that they don’t want to execute — because it is not in their interest.

2. Below is an extract of a Mar 2021 discussion with John Culver, a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer, with past responsibilities on analysing East Asian affairs, including security, economic, and foreign policy dimensions. The 2 quotes below will serve to frame the lens from which I tend to see events.

Ryan Hass: How do you see cross-Strait issues playing in China’s domestic politics? Is Taiwan policy a high priority or a source of debate? And do you expect the role of Taiwan in China’s politics to change as the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) draws nearer in fall 2022?​

John Culver: One of my core assumptions is that things said by the CCP about Taiwan are generally not directed solely or principally at the Taiwan public, but instead at China’s own domestic population, or at the U.S. government and a few other foreign governments — principally Tokyo and Canberra. This reflects the fact that Taipei has not taken highly provocative or precipitous actions since 2008, when then-President Chen Shui-bian stirred controversy by advocating, through a public referendum, for Taipei to pursue U.N. membership under the name “Taiwan.”​

In this vein, I don’t expect the role of Taiwan in China’s politics to change due solely — or even mostly — to the 20th Party Congress in 2022, unless provoked by Taiwan’s own election cycle, which would be gearing up for the January 2024 polls. Thinking back over the past 30 to 40 years, we’ve seen street demonstrations in China (officially the People’s Republic of China, or PRC) — some violent — over Japan and domestic local issues (land use, pollution, ethnic strife). Some have even been directed at the United States, after events like the 1999 accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade or the 2001 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fighter collision with a U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft. But I don’t recall ever seeing a major protest in China over Taiwan policy, which to me says that the PRC public isn’t on tenterhooks over the issue and generally thinks that the CCP’s policies toward Taiwan are “tough enough” and correct. In other words, President Xi Jinping and the CCP are not facing much domestic pressure to do something, or at least to do something different. But galvanizing Chinese public opinion to justify harsher policies is a card Beijing could always play — we should keep in mind that it has not.​

Ryan Hass: Part of China’s strategy appears to be placing psychological stress upon the people of Taiwan, both to raise perceptions of the costs and risks of independence and also to seed the idea that unification ultimately is inevitable. Do you agree? If so, how (in)effective do you China’s efforts have been?​

John Culver: Taiwan is an issue that the CCP sees as a threat to its legitimacy, not an opportunity to be seized. That has meant that CCP policy toward Taiwan is largely about what it wants to avoid, not what it wants to achieve — reactionary, not exploitative. But that is changing, especially since Xi in 2019 and more recently has framed “reunification” as a requirement for achieving the “China Dream” tied to the CCP’s longstanding goals for 2049, the 100th anniversary of the PRC’s founding. We should worry that Xi may decide to take risks that his more constrained predecessors since Mao Zedong would not.​

I don’t think China today actually seeks to place severe psychological stress on Taiwan. Most of its actions are more formal and symbolic — like the current “pineapple boycott” — and are meant to stay ahead of Chinese domestic opinion, or warn against exploitation by the United States or another outside power. Beijing is rigorous about cataloging and protesting every “improper” action by the United States, Taiwan, or occasionally by third parties, to ensure that it is vocal in opposition to continued erosion. And yet, by most measures, the situation continues to erode. For Washington, dating back almost a decade now, there are diminishing incentives to “please Beijing” by not doing something with Taiwan — they’re going to protest anyway, even to modest arms sales, official visits, etc.​

3. In May 2000, former prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) set forth his views on Taiwan in an article titled ‘The Cruel Game’. As the late LKY put it, Taiwan should negotiate with Beijing.
(a) Either the PRC would continue to grow in power until it overwhelmed Taiwan’s resistance or it would collapse allowing Taipei to safely ignore whatever concessions it had made.​
(b) LKY understood that accommodating Beijing’s preferences would be difficult: ‘The last thing any Taiwanese, even of mainlander descent, desires is to be ruled by China’. Still, he argued, it is better to enter into unification negotiations willingly to win the best deal possible — which was the KMT position under Ma.​
(c) Simultaneously, Taipei should ‘influence China’s evolution’ ensuring that ‘they will change to fit into the world’. Otherwise, if unification came via armed takeover, ‘the eventual adjustment, whether in 20 or 50 years, [will be] that much more painful’.​
 
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OPSSG

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Part 2 of 3: An inchoate reply to STURM’s Qns

4. The CCP under President Xi has an image problem, in that a significant number of Chinese citizens believe the PLA can conduct such an invasion in the late 2030s. IMHO, after President Biden’s 1st term of office:

(a) There will be no first use of force by Beijing. But Beijing’s threat to use force against Taiwan is credible and will grow — which is why I took time to explain the formula for deterrence and RCP, as concepts over 4 posts (on the topic of — Explaining the concepts of deterrence & relative combat power). A CCP attempt at reunification will not be made between now and Nov 2024, because Team Biden has put proper China experts in the NSA to craft an approach to keep the peace.​
(b) The last 44 MBTs of Taiwan’s MND order for 108 M1A2T Abrams, will be delivered. As I keep repeating:​
(i) due to the endless domestic political in fighting, presently, many of Taiwan’s conscripts see military service as a waste of time. Until and unless the Taiwanese conscript trust the fighting ability of their sister unit to hold their flank, you will see the progressive collapse of defenders if they face a determined opponent;​
(ii) for American and Japanese military assistance to arrive in sufficient numbers, Taiwan needs to buy time for these foreign reinforcements to arrive — assuming that ports and airports remain functional and that these heavy forces can have the support of the navy to fight their way there (by sea), in the face of PLA(N)’s submarine fleet; and​
(iii) the conventional American logic is let’s arm the Taiwanese to the teeth. But have they looked at the rot in the MND in Taiwan? The teeth can’t bite if the gums are rotten.​
5. Who is it to say, that another idiot like Trump will not win the next U.S. Presidential election in Nov 2024? Trump’s mis-rule till Jan 2021, accelerated the arrival of the multi-polar world view — sealing shut America’s unipolar moment under Bill Clinton. This was discussed in over 6 posts (on the topic of — Many Chinese believe that Trump accelerated American decline) that I do not intend to repeat.

6. Beijing’s approach under President Xi is self-defeating. Rapid increases in PLA(N)’s capability shorten warning times for JMSDF and RAN should Chinese intent change, justifying increases in Australian and Japanese defence spending including making long-term investments in new capabilities — SSNs for Australia and STOVL carriers for Japan. The greater the threat, the greater the steps others will need to bandwagon against Beijing. That is why:
(a) Japan's new prime minister, Kishida Fumio, said that Taiwan is an important partner and that he will seek to deepen the bilateral relationship. Speaking to Japan’s parliament of the relationship between Taiwan and China, Fumio said he has always looked forward to the resolution of the issue through dialogue between the concerned parties;​
(b) we can see India’s renewed interest in the Quad (of which Japan is a member and soon to be an operator of 2 STOVL carriers).​
(c) we watched to birth of AUKUS and the Australian decision to go the SSN route; and​
(d) we saw the spectacle of VP Harris and Secretary Austin jetting around the Indo-Pacific, to keep partners engaged and shore up alliances. Secretary Austin thanked Singapore for the logistical support that it provides to U.S. military aircraft and vessels, as well as for facilitating the regular rotational deployment of U.S. Littoral Combat Ships and P-8 Poseidon aircraft.​

7. In Jul 2021, John Culver has expanded on his thoughts:
“From Beijing’s perspective, China and the United States have been moving toward a strategic “systems rivalry” for the past decade. The CCP apparently reached this strategic conclusion after the 2008–2009 Global Financial Crisis and framed some of the more dire implications for its rule in the 2012 CCP “Document No. 9”.​
Beijing assumes that this rivalry will last decades. It could involve periods of “cold war” and military conflict – especially in East Asia, where US alliance responsibilities and Chinese sovereignty claims and “red lines” converge.​
…​
If Beijing comes to see US antagonism to CCP rule as structural and bipartisan – especially in the aftermath of the 2020 US elections – China’s self-imposed restraint to prioritise stable US relations and drive economic reform and growth would be greatly weakened. For the CCP, the relatively peaceful, stable global and regional environment that prevailed in the late bipolar Cold War and post-Cold War would end.”​

Another vital question is does the Chinese public - which has undergone a rapid change in recent times and which despite governent control has access to foreign news - have a high loss tolerence level?
8. Yes, I strongly believe so. I know it’s hard to imagine but China has a strategy for its rise — including a plan to reduce losses as part of CCP plans to build the country’s resilience for loss tolerance.
 
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OPSSG

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Part 3 of 3: An inchoate reply to STURM’s Qns

…but does the PLA still have the same level of loss tolerence?
9. Yes, there is no doubt, but I would not deliberately set out the questions the way you have — as I am of the view that the PLA leadership (at the CMC level) have to plan for and accept the necessary Chinese combat losses to achieve its geo-political goals (that would accompany such a mission).

(a) That being said, Beijing is not in fact looking for excuses or an opportunity to attack its neighbour, Taipei. IMO, the CCP is looking for reasons not to do so. Part of the reason for current tensions is that the DPP does not want to return to the 1992 Consensus. Speaking at a May 2021 Taipei symposium on Taiwan-China relations, Ma Ying-jeou said that President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration had failed to come up with an alternative to the “consensus” and had fostered ill sentiment toward China.​
(b) China’s Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council recently said the DPP authority's attempt to seek "Taiwan independence" and its refusal to recognize the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus are the fundamental causes to cross-strait tensions. He also slammed the DPP authority for its collusion with external forces to seek "Taiwan independence" and its sabotage of cross-strait exchanges and cooperation.​
(c) In contrast to the DPP stance, the CCP on the mainland see the 1992 Consensus as the political foundation for cross-strait consultation and negotiation — which means DPP will not allow the fig leaf of CCP pretending that they will keep talking about reunification. The “1992 consensus” — refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.​

10. It seems the ambivalent Taiwanese media (in the above Mandarin YouTube video) are trying to force a choice Singapore is unwilling to make (to choose sides). It seems to blame LKY for disclosing the existence of Exercise Starlight to China, when Taiwanese spies and traitors are doing a far better job of reporting details —Taiwanese loyalty is so suspect that there are multiple incidents of pilots, defecting to mainland China in their F-5Es or F-5Fs. This a stain on Taiwanese character that cannot be bleached out by time.

(a) I just can’t respect Taiwanese media spin that is based on lies or half truths being mischaracterised by Taiwanese spin. They report as if the hosting of Singaporean troops does not bring significant benefits for Taiwan. Exercise Starlight is an unilateral infantry battalion level exercise in Taiwan; and it is not as significant as the Taiwanese try to make it out to be. The PLA gets far more information directly out of the Thai, American or Taiwanese military than they will ever get from the SAF. The SAF in conducting map planning for ADMM Plus exercises do share limited information with the PLA and this is necessary for exercise purposes.​
(b) Let me give another example of this attitude. When an accident happens with a Taiwanese vehicle, instead of checking if anyone is injured, you will see Taiwan’s drivers take out an abacus to calculate real or imagined damage. What is actually happening is the scaling down of some exercises in Taiwan, as training in ungraded in Australia and the US, where our equipment are. In contrast to Taiwanese ambivalence, the Americans, as a smart power, have rolled out the red carpet for Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) detachments basing on American soil — with no requirement of a choice being forced upon Singapore.​

(c) I urge Americans and Taiwanese to better understand the balancing act of Singapore and ASEAN. There is a very strong tendency especially in Taiwan to look at this (the U.S.-China rivalry) as a binary issue. But it's not a choice to take sides either with the United States or China. I also see little or no Taiwanese effort at building a domestic political consensus in preserving Exercise Starlight. The poor ties with Taiwan are the result of Taiwanese attitude, where their characterisation of the SAF exercises with the PLA is so deliberately wrong, it is hard to know where to begin​
(d) I have seen multiple Taiwanese disinformation and mis-information on Singapore that uses a passive aggressive reporting style — where they are implying that the Taiwanese don’t really welcome the SAF (due to Singapore engaging in confidence building measures with the PLA), while stating that Singaporean troops are withdrawing from Taiwan due to China — when it is not true. If anything is true, Singapore has withstood Chinese pressure to withdraw troops. The truth is the SAF will train where the organisation can get better. And the Americans offer great, instrumented air-to-ground ranges, for realistic training, at Mountain Home and Luke Air Force bases, where the F-15SG and F-16V detachments are located.​

11. Unlike the Taiwanese media, who imply betrayal of their interests by active misrepresentation of facts, the Americans welcome the SAF. By American actions of reassurance (eg. VP Harris’ high profile visit to Singapore and Congress support to continue to sell F-35Bs to the RSAF), the Americans remain relevant to Singaporean security aspirations. In any discussion on Singapore troops in America, there is a need to keep in mind that the Commander of RSAF detachments in America is an American but he is accustomed to listening to his Singaporean deputy commander — to provide cover for any local blow back (eg. noise complaints or military accident investigations).

12. This is why, there is no problem for the U.S. to host Exercise Forging Sabre, a biannual, unilateral SAF exercise, to conduct live-fire training of the Singaporean division strike centre — the above video link is to a documentary series on how the logistics of this exercise was done in a Corvus-19 safe manner, for exercise participants by the Singapore Army’s forward support group (FSG).

13. American observers of Singaporean performance at Exercise RIMPAC 2021, Exercise Pacific Griffin 2021, Exercise Forging Sabre 2021 and Red Flag 2021, understand the high-end nature of these war games. The SAF is a proficient user of AI (and a host of advanced sensors), to sense make and thereafter to attack an aggressor, at a time and place of our choosing. This mapping imagery analysis capability of the Singapore Army enhances the RSAF’s omnidirectional deterrence messaging, without causing offence to our neighbours.

14. Like Singapore, Japanese deterrence messaging, without is done causing offence to China. On top of 4 escort fleets, Japan has also invested in 2 STOVL carriers and Australia is seriously working through the steps required to acquire SSNs.
(a) In contrast to Japan, Taiwan is buying a few missiles and 108 M1A2T Abrams and a quarter of the SPHs they need for fleet renewal?!?! Taiwan just spent NT$40.52 billion (US$1.41 billion) on 108 MBTS when the minimum they need to acquire is at least 216 modern MBTs. Taiwan just placed an order of 40 M-109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzers (SPH), when the minimum they need to acquire is at least 120 modern SPHs.​
(b) This is why I keep repeating — if Taiwan wants to move away from the “1992 consensus” and still keep the peace, proper war prep is necessary — which means acquiring a minimum number of MBTs (it needs to be twice the amount announced in current plans), acquiring a minimum number of SPHs (it needs to be 4 times the amount announced in current plans), and stocking the proper levels of ammo, POL and consumables stocking, to keep aircraft and vehicles moving for 60 days of high intensity conflict. This is because the Taiwanese navy can’t survive in a fight with the PLA(N) for more than 7 days and it’s Air Force can’t strike at range, from day 1.​
 
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STURM

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Yes, there is no doubt, but I would not deliberately set out the questions the way you have — as I am of the view that the PLA leadership (at the CMC level) have to plan for and accept the necessary Chinese combat losses to achieve its geo-political goals (that would accompany such a mission).
Thank you for your follow on posts.

Indeed, as I indicated the Party and PLA leadership understands and fully accept that losses will be high in the event they attempt a cross straits invasion. Of this there is absolutely no doubt. It is to them a price worth paying if they have to.

For me the question which is not how determined and capable they are to take Taiwan or about overall limitations the Taiwanese face but whether the Party and PLA leadership as a whole, as well as the Chinse public [both have undergone fundamental changes over the past few decades], has the same level of tolerence to huge manpower losses compared to the period during Korean war which was 70 odd years ago, was during a period when the PLA had absolutely no choice [like the Soviets in WW2] but to use its large manpower to compensate for certain inherent weaknesess and when it was a very different organisation, one which had very little answers to the various advantages its opponents enjoyed.

The key problem is we have absolutely nothing to base an asessment on given that the last conflict the PLA was involved in was in 1979 against Vietnam. Whilst it can be argued that China's political and military leadership, as well as the public, has a higher level of tolerence compared to a whole list of other countries, the question of whether the level of tolerence is as it was decades ago, is open to question/debate.
 
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Ananda

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This few days article from Forbes seems showing that sentiment on Taiwan Defence. Basically Taiwan must invest more on their defense as other player in Asia Pacific has done to answer China Move. It's also raise question on how far China want to gamble with its economic properity.

For me the question of Economics Turmoil that follow China Invading Taiwan is something that can be more factor by CCP assides the costs they will has to take in the form of Military casualties.

China economy is basically build on exports, electronics and real estate. They are facing problem in Real Estate and problem to move the market on more advance electronics than just smart phones. Thus at this moment they relied more on consumers goods export which they still hold huge advantage to everybody else due to their massive end to end capacity.

Taiwan already part of Greater China economics ecosystem. Invading Taiwan actualy hurting their own consumers goods ecosystem, and advance electronics products. Two pilar that CCP must hold in order to off set growing problem on their other pillar of Real Estate/Property.

Economics prosperity is the main 'gun' that CCP has toward their population political aspirations. The question also what boundaries the CCP want to gamble with Economics.
 

STURM

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It's also raise question on how far China want to gamble with its economic properity.
China does not want to gamble or take any major moves which will have negative consequences for its economy. It would prefer to continue doing what it has been doing without any conflict. Everything it does, after weighing all the pros and cons, is calculated to bring it benefits without actually resulting in conflict. If however it feels that it has no choice but to engage in a conflict, the most it can do it to strive to limit the before it spreads into a large protracted one.
 
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ngatimozart

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China does not want to gamble or take any major moves which will have negative consequences for its economy. It would prefer to continue doing what it has been doing without any conflict. Everything it does, after weighing all the pros and cons, is calculated to bring it benefits without actually resulting in conflict. If however it feels that it has no choice but to engage in a conflict, the most it can do it to strive to limit the before it spreads into a large protracted one.
I am unsure about this at the moment. Xi Jinping is quite happy to let the economy suffer as he fights his factional war against Jiang Zemin and his faction, if some of the commentators are to be believed. It has become very personal because according to these commentators there has been an assassination attempt against Xi and since then his personal security has increased. The assassination attempt came out of the Public Security Bureau and two senior members have been fired with one, Sun Lijun, Vice Minister being expelled from the Party and subject to judicial scrutiny. The other, Fu Zenghua was Minister of Justice and is now under investigation.


WRT the PLA acceptance of high casualties, back in the 1950s thru to the 1970s/ 80s this would have been the norm. However now I think that the PLA would have to think about the political consequences of exceedingly high numbers of of only sons being killed on the battlefield. The general population would not be happy about this and it would have the potential to cause a groundswell of anger towards both the PLA and the CCP. Even though the PLA is the fist of the CCP, it would still cop anger along with the CCP. It would be very much a delicate path for them to tread.
 

STURM

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WRT the PLA acceptance of high casualties, back in the 1950s thru to the 1970s/ 80s this would have been the norm. However now I think that the PLA would have to think about the political consequences of exceedingly high numbers of of only sons being killed on the battlefield. The general population would not be happy about this and it would have the potential to cause a groundswell of anger towards both the PLA and the CCP.
Fully agreed. As mentioned in my post a lot of things have changed since the Korean War. Although China's political leadership is willing to incur the penalty of high combat losses in the event of a conflict with Taiwan; I highly doubt if the overall level of tolerance is similar to what it was in the 1950's. A major point is that China's population does not view things as it used to; times have changed, It also has easy access to foreign news. Huge losses after years of preaching how capable the PLA is would not make the political leadership look good.
 

Musashi_kenshin

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OPSSG, thanks for your lengthy posts. It's easy to forget that mods are unpaid, and I doubt you're able to knock long posts like that in just a few minutes. There's little point in me saying all the things I agree with as it would take much too long.

You're right that strictly speaking if Beijing were looking for reasons to declare war, it probably would have done so by now. My concern is that that the CCP's policies have somewhat painted itself into a corner regarding how to resolve the political problem.

I recall reading Lee Kuan Yew's comments some time ago. Up until the last decade I can see where he was coming from on negotiations. But given what's happened in Hong Kong, I honestly think that ship has sailed. The National Security Law, which its proponents kept claiming would only affect a very small number of people, is now being used to completely rewrite HK's constitution and effectively remove all the freedoms the city used to enjoy.

(In recent years I seem to recall that the CCP has made it clear that it rejects the KMT's interpretation of One China, and that from its point of view One China means Taiwan under the PRC.)

I can see Taiwan accepting fig-leaf unification as part of a final deal. However, to imply it's the end result before negotiations begin (which I think is how most Taiwanese see the One China principle as pushed by the CCP) would require a lot of trust that Taiwanese don't have towards China right now. After all, what is unification if Beijing has no control over Taiwan? It's not really unification then, is it, it's effectively independence.

A much more productive way forward in my view would be for the CCP to put the constitutional situation on hold with Taiwan and embark on a period of confidence building even if it takes 20 years or so. It would be the surest way to head off younger more pro-independence Taiwanese, whose views are increasingly becoming the norm, pushing for constitutional change and/or a UDI. It would also make it much easier for Taiwan to make some sort of constitutional concession before starting talks for a final political solution, because there would be confidence it wasn't a trap being laid by the CCP.

I don't see the CCP choosing that strategy soon, but it is the most realistic way forward I think. Perhaps this is another reason why Taiwan needs to continue to up its game regarding defence spending and strategy, to make Beijing more realistic about how to engage with it rather than wish we were still in the 1970s and 1980s where the KMT's word was law such that unification could be agreed without consulting the general public.
 
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