Far from signaling the end, a grim new consensus between Taipei and Washington must now spur a new beginning that ensures Taiwan’s survival.
Military leaders in Taipei and Washington now agree there is a growing chance that by the middle of this decade the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership may decide to use its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to attack, or even invade, Taiwan.
On October 6, 2021, Taiwan Minister for National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) told members of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, “By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration.”
Earlier, on March 9, United States Indo-Pacific Command Commander Admiral Philip Davidson told US Senators, “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions… And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.”
However, there is still time for Taiwan and the US to take steps to accelerate a buildup of military capabilities to deter such an attack, and by so doing create the basis for Taiwan’s survival. These steps could include:
ACCELERATE US WEAPONS DELIVERIES
Recent reports from Taiwan indicate some new interest in advancing to 2022 the first deliveries of 66 new F-16V 4+ generation fighters sold to Taiwan in 2020, meaning they could all be delivered before the reported goal of 2026.
This will boost to about 200 Taiwan’s F-16s with 4+ generation combat capabilities, like the ability to simultaneously target more than 4 aircraft while carrying up to 10 air-to-air missiles, severely challenging PLA attempts to achieve air superiority necessary for an invasion.
Similar urgency must also advance the delivery of the 2020 US sale to Taiwan of nearly 600 missiles, including 64 of the 300-kilometer-range MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) short-range ballistic missiles, and 400 of the 124km-range RGM/AGM-84L Harpoon ground-launched anti-ship missiles.
These missiles are required urgently to allow Taiwan to put at risk PLA invasion embarkation points in Fujian Province, and to threaten the more than 100 large PLA Navy amphibious invasion ships and civilian roll-on-roll-off (RORO) ferries that will be transporting the bulk of PLA invasion armor to Taiwan.
ACCELERATE ASYMMETRIC CAPABILITIES
Washington can further strengthen Taiwan’s asymmetric strengths by selling the 900km-range AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER). These can take out PLA surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites in Fujian Province so as to protect Taiwan’s F-16s, and to clear the way for US resupply or troop-carrying aircraft.
In addition, the US should consider early sale of the Lockheed-Martin Rapid Dragon missile-launching pallets that could turn Taiwan’s 19 C-130 transports into JASSM-ER launching strike-transports.
Washington must remove technology controls that previously have impeded Taiwan’s ability to produce indigenous long-range missiles, now to be supported by a new US$8.7 billion special budget. Given the urgency of the CCP/PLA threat, it is now necessary to offer Taiwan the ability to develop or co-produce new US short and medium-range ballistic missiles with anti-ship seekers.
For its part, Washington must accelerate the production of new 500km to 800km-range Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM), 2,000km to 3,000km-range Typhon missiles and the 2,700km-range Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) missile that will equip US Army units and US Navy ships and submarines. These must be deployed by 2024.
Over the summer, the Biden Administration defeated an attempt by progressive Democrats to cancel a revival of production of the tactical nuclear weapon armed Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missile.
To strictly target PLA invasion forces Washington must revive production of low-yield (less than one kiloton) tactical nuclear artillery shells. One shell could potentially replace 15 strikes by F-16 fighters, or up to three B-52 bombers, almost ensuring that PLA invasion fleets will be destroyed.
EXPLAIN THE COST OF CCP AGGRESSION
If it is agreed that China is going to attack Taiwan, then it is now necessary to forge a global coalition of political-economic-informational and military support for Taiwan. This will first require leaders in Taiwan, Washington, and allied democracies to explain publicly the cost of CCP/PLA aggression.
In their own countries and in international fora like the United Nations, democratic leaders must loudly condemn the CCP’s plans for invading Taiwan by offering estimates of the cost in lives and treasure, outlining how the CCP will unleash a reign of terror against democracy-supporting Taiwanese, and how the PLA will turn Taiwan into a military base for aggression against Taiwan, the Philippines, and the world.
PREPARE CHINA’S ISOLATION
Such a campaign of global education must be combined with organization of a global campaign of sanctions to impose economic and political isolation on China, should it attack Taiwan, for as long as it is led by the CCP.
The CCP has no legal or natural right to murder Taiwanese or to eliminate their democratic political system built over decades of difficult but admirable decisions. Any CCP attack against Taiwanese who seek only to live in peace with China should result in all democracies declaring the CCP to be a criminal organization whose members require immediate arrest.
As Chinese assets around the world are seized, Chinese ships and aircraft should be impounded as they are denied entry to ports or access to air and sea lanes. Over the next two years China should be told of the schedule of sanctions that will be imposed immediately upon aggression against Taiwan, to start now with limits on the sale of resources and food intended to build stocks to thwart sanctions.
Russia should also be told directly that any military or material assistance for Chinese aggression against Taiwan will also result in Russia’s economic and political isolation.
MAKE NUCLEAR DETERRENCE CREDIBLE
For many reasons the CCP/PLA is now sprinting to build up its nuclear capabilities to a level of global superiority. These include joining with Russia to undertake joint nuclear coercion to stop US military assistance for Taiwan, and also to threaten countries that would join global sanctions against the CCP.
It is necessary for the Biden Administration very quickly to devise a strategy to rebuild US nuclear deterrent capabilities so that a potential 4,000 PLA nuclear warheads, anticipated toward the end of the decade, do not join 1,500 or more Russian warheads in nuclear coercive exercises or nuclear attack.
As the United States may require more than 5,000 warheads to deter both the PLA and Russia, Britain and France should be urged to increase their deterrent force to a new total of 1,000 warheads. The US should also arm a large number of new theater missiles with nuclear warheads and offer joint basing of tactical nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea.
These steps should be part of a military-political strategy to prevent a CCP war against Taiwan and that will go far to build the basis for Taiwan’s survival for decades to come.
But there should be no illusions, a CCP conquest of Taiwan would mark the beginning of decades of wars around the world as the CCP seeks to impose its political-economic and military hegemony, with the final goal of destroying all democracies.
Richard D. Fisher, Jr. is a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is an expert at bluffing and keeping the West on its toes, pushing relations to the edge before pivoting without warning. However, hemmed in and fuming, he is deadly serious about being heard on Ukraine. Those close to the Kremlin said that the Russian president does not want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he is ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the NATO in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia. After years of disillusionment
At a time when China continues its assertive policy toward its neighboring countries, the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Bhutan last month to resolve a longstanding border dispute. However, this is not the first time China and Bhutan have taken such efforts on this issue. Over the years, China has expanded its claim over territory in Bhutan. China claims over 764km2 of Bhutan’s territory, which includes Doklam, Sinchulung, Dramana and Shakhatoe in the northwestern region and the Pasamlung and Jakarlung Valleys in the central part of Bhutan. Although the two sides held
Among the voices expressing concern for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (彭帥) over the past two weeks, one was barely audible — that of her long-time former doubles partner Hsieh Su-wei (謝淑薇). Following their defeat in the WTA Finals championship match in Mexico on Nov. 18, Taiwan’s Hsieh and her Belgian partner Elise Mertens fielded questions via a Zoom call. Chinese state media had just released an incredibly suspicious e-mail, purportedly from Peng, and Canadian tennis Web site Open Court broached the issue. With the entire tennis world chiming in, seeking Hsieh’s opinion seemed obvious. However, the Web site’s reporter prefaced her question
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) sixth plenary session has ended and from all appearances, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has set the stage to rule for the rest of his life. Some might be tempted to declare that this calls for Xi to do a victory lap, but all is not well on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. To parody a line from Ya Got Trouble, a song from Broadway musical The Music Man: “There’s trouble in River City, (aka, Beijing). Trouble with a capital T, which rhymes with C for CCP.” Why? Taking control of a nation is always much