Russia's lackluster performance in Ukraine till now should have a direct impact on the PLA's assessment of how things will unfold if it invades Taiwan. 700 or so missiles launched by Russia failed to neutralize Ukraine's meagre air force. Russian troops and convoys are getting ambushed non stop. While Ukrainian claims of Russian casualties might be exaggerated, I think the Russians have lost around 5000 troops in these two weeks. Hundreds of tanks and APCs destroyed and abandoned. It's an outright meme now with Ukrainian tractors towing away Russian tanks and air defence systems. Dozens of Russian planes have been shot down by the still functioning Ukrainian air defence systems. Those bayraktar drones have also proven very effective. And all this with a direct land border with Ukraine, on mostly flat terrain.
Taiwan has a much better air force and air defence systems than Ukraine. They also have a better anti ship capability. As far as military infrastructure is concerned, Taiwan has a substantially bigger network of underground and armoured facilities than Ukraine. The much feared Chinese missile barrage doesn't seem quite that menacing anymore after seeing the results of Russian missile strikes. Chinese fighter jets will have to contend with advanced and networked air defence systems along with modernized F16's and Mirage 2000s. That will likely result in far more losses for the PLAAF than what the VKS has faced till now. And for a land invasion, they'll have to perform amphibious landings, which is another animal altogether compared to just crossing a land border in tanks and trucks. Overall, I don't think anyone in the PLA is confident about being able to successfully invade Taiwan right now.
Yep the very senior leadership of the CCP and PLA will be watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine with considerable concern. The CCP / PLA Foreign Minister Wang Yi, said last Monday
"We have seen that some people emphasise the principle of sovereignty on the Ukraine issue, but continue to undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Taiwan issue. This is a naked double standard, ...
". What will have given them the concern is not so much the "poor" performance of the Russian military, but the very and untied strong resistance of the Ukrainian military, political classes, and people. This will be a very good example to the Taiwanese and the CCP cannot restrict Taiwanese knowledge of such resistance in anyway. So that will be gnawing at their stomachs creating ulcers. Next the how Europe, EU, NATO, US, the West quickly united behind Ukraine and the rest of the world joining in isolating Putin and Russia. In the UN General Assembly vote
on the Resolution demanding "that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
; 141 countries voted in favour, 35 countries abstained and five including Russia voted against.
Then there are all the sanctions against Russian banks, businesses, organisations and individuals, right across the board. The CCP hierarchy have very significant amounts of their wealth invested overseas, plus they have family who have immigrated to foreign lands. The Chines National Bank has the vast majority of its foreign reserves in US$, Euros, Japanese Yen etc., and very little in gold; far less than the 30% of foreign reserves that the Russian National Bank has in gold. So what the CCP top leadership see now is both their own personal wealth and the national economy nuked if they are sanctioned like Putin and the Russians are. And there is little that they would be able to do about it. They simply don't have the nuclear weapons leverage of 9,000 plus warheads that Putin has. Unlike Russia they are also importers of energy, especially hydrocarbon based energy along with iron ore and coal to drive their steel mills. They are also net food importers. The video below discusses the CCP leadership and its fear of sanctions.
The next point is what you have said about PLA military capabilities and its ability to successfully invade Taiwan. The first mistake would be to underestimate them or be arrogant about what you perceive their capabilities to be. The British in Singapore and Malaya, other European colonial powers and the Americans were like that about the Japanese in 1941 and look where it got them? Singapore and Hong Kong fell, Burma, the Dutch East Indies, French Indo China, and the Philippines were all overrun and subjugated by the Japanese Imperial Forces. That's a good lesson about assumptions based on ignorance and arrogance.
We don't know what the PLA will be like, what its doctrines will be, how good it will be etc., in a near peer conflict because it hasn't fought a war since 1978 / 79 and under completely different circumstances. It doesn't have a long institutional memory of war fighting and that does make a difference because that long history helps shape traditions, discipline, culture, transfer of knowledge between generations, and creates an esprit d' corp within a military. People may think that battle honours are silly, especially battle honours from centuries ago, but you talk to a Guardsman, who has battle honours on the Regimental Colour from the likes of Waterloo (1815) or battles prior to that. It's their history and they are very proud of it and that pride in their regiment, ship, or squadron, translates to a better soldier, sailor, airman or airwoman with them all working as a team and for each other.
The PLA is loyal to and answers only to the CCP and that creates a different dynamic in a way. However the Red Army of the USSR as the same with the CPSU and yet during the Great Patriotic War (WW2) the soldiers etc., fought with great bravery. It did help that the NKVD were standing behind them with orders to shoot those who failed to move forward. Back then, like in the modern day PLA, each unit had political officers and they could and did on occasion create problems. So it would be interesting to see how much say a CCP political officer has in a combat situation. It would also be interesting to see if the political officer's involvement slows down the reaction time in an unexpected situation.
You will note that I have spoken directly to your comments about Russian armour, weapons, tactics, strategy, leadership, and personnel capabilities. This is deliberate because lots of claims and counter claims have been made and there are still to many unknowns at the moment. I will comment that I think that this is unlike them though and something isn't right, but what that is I wouldn't hazard a guess although I do have some unsubstantiated suspicions that I don't care to share.
We actually don't know a lot of how the PLA will react or operate in a combat situation. Hence we must treat them as though they are as good as ourselves, if not better. To do otherwise would be extremely foolish.