Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Ian Easton On Taiwan: So you think China will win?

In contrast, China has an established policy of state atheism. Persecution against religious groups has bred deep discontents. And it is getting much uglier. China’s dictatorial leader, Xi Jinping (習近平), has made the eradication of all “politically unreliable” faith groups a cornerstone of his rule. In western China, for example, devout Muslims are now routinely imprisoned, tortured, and brainwashed until they deny the existence of Allah.

Orwellian police states tend to have short lifespans. By brutally repressing fundamental human rights, the Chinese authorities are playing with gasoline and matches.

Two, Uncle Sam has Taiwan’s back (most of the time).

Washington has struggled living up to the spirit and the letter of the law: the Taiwan Relations Act. Nonetheless, American efforts to support Taiwan’s defense and security have given the Taiwanese military advantages that Chinese war planners do not regard lightly. In the eyes of Chinese officers, Taiwan’s defenders are almost always better led, better trained, and better equipped than they are.

From their perspective, even more worrisome is the thought of the US military coming to Taiwan’s rescue. The Chinese military establishment believes that whoever controls Taiwan will control the future of East Asia and the Western Pacific. They are convinced that Taiwan will decide the outcome of the US-PRC strategic competition. They take it for granted that Uncle Sam will not allow this island to fall into their hands easily. Any great power war over Taiwan could unhinge the Chinese regime.

Three, Taiwan’s geography is a general’s dream come true. China’s is a nightmare.

Taiwan garrisons over a dozen, well-fortified islands just off the coast of China. These granite citadels bristle with missiles, rockets, and artillery guns that could devastate the ports and airbases in Fujian Province, effectively vetoing an enemy invasion before it was launched.

The Taiwan Strait is another formidable line of defense. Referred to colloquially as the “Black Ditch,” the Taiwan Strait is notorious for its foul weather and rough sailing conditions. Taiwan’s military has no land borders to defend. China borders 14 other sovereign states, many of which are unfriendly or unstable.

Most importantly, Taiwan’s rugged coastline offers China only a handful of feasible landing beaches. Taiwanese military engineers have spent decades preparing them for the worst. Amateurs imagine that the Battle of Taiwan would look something like the D-Day landings. It would actually have far more in common with the Dieppe Raid and the Anzio Campaign.

When considering Taiwan’s future, sunny optimism is certainly not warranted. The challenges facing this tough island nation are daunting.

But if you think Taiwan’s days are numbered, think again.

Ian Easton is a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute.

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