Mon, Jan 20, 2020 - Page 6 News List

Richard D. Fisher, Jr. On Taiwan: How China’s proxies threaten Taiwan

The January 11, 2020 election is over and democracy, again, is victorious in Taiwan, buoyed by a younger generation whose determination to remain free could sustain Taiwan’s democratic development for many decades. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), meanwhile, shows no sign of deviating from its Leninist core values demanding that it fear democracy on Taiwan and continue its longstanding preparations to murder it in order to achieve global hegemony.

But there is some debate over how long it will take CCP dictator-for-life Xi Jinping (習近平) to actually pull the trigger and invade Taiwan. One school of thought, led by retired United States Pacific Command intelligence chief and US Navy Captain James Fanell, is that 2020 commences the “Decade of Concern,” in which the domestic political demands of Xi and the CCP, combined with a Taiwan Strait balance of power increasingly favoring China, impels Xi to attack Taiwan during this decade.

Another view is that Taiwan remains in danger but does not face an imminent existential threat from China. Its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will continue to intensify military intimidation of the island democracy while its United Front organs foment constant political, economic, and cyber warfare. But the combined factors of Taiwan’s military preparations, myriad geographic challenges to invasion, and expectation that the US will come to Taiwan’s defense, will continue to provide the margin of deterrence against PLA attack.

In this mix, it is the American contribution that will remain decisive. It is only the US military that can supply the decisive nuclear forces to deter the PLA, and the Trump Administration is now in the process of rebuilding US theater nuclear forces and the ballistic and cruise missiles that can deliver them. In addition the PLA has to consider, as in 1950 when Mao Zedong (毛澤東), Stalin and Kim Il Sung were shocked that Washington decided to fight a terrible war on the Korean Peninsula, whether President Trump or his successor will actually go to Taiwan to fight a Chinese invasion.

In the realm of military planning this is a basic contingency that the PLA would have been considering for decades. But it could be much worse. It is possible to conclude that the CCP’s devotion to sustaining its dictatorship without consideration for the cost in lives has prompted it to create a second string of “offense,” starting with the help of its three dictatorship allies or proxies, North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan, to be able to wage nuclear terrorism or nuclear war.

China has tried mightily to hide or deny its role, but by enabling “independent” nuclear aggression by its proxies, the CCP’s strategy could be to tie down US forces sufficiently in order to “create” the conditions necessary to assure little to no US intervention to defend Taiwan, thereby assuring “victory” by negotiated surrender or invasion. It is this investment by China, insufficiently challenged by Washington since the 1990s, which now adds urgent legitimacy to the Decade of Concern.

On the Korean Peninsula and in the Persian Gulf, the United States and its regional allies hover close to the edge of war. To justify their harsh dictatorships, both North Korea and Iran require the US to remain the “Great Satan”. As their military and nuclear strength increases, their willingness to arm their allies and proxies with nuclear capabilities, or to undertake far larger acts of terrorism or military action, also increases the likelihood of US military intervention. This is China’s real goal: by sustaining these regimes and aiding their nuclear armaments, a small-scale US intervention can quickly escalate into major military commitments that leave other US interests undefended, like the Taiwan Strait.

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