Biden and the importance of Taiwan

Posted: November 18, 2020 in Uncategorized

While Taiwan has always been a contentious issue between China and the USA, under President Trump it has become a hot topic.

Under President Biden, or in the follow up President, it will come a point the issue will come to fruition.

Taking a step back. What is the issue? While Taiwan has been independent since the Chinese revolution, China has always considered it as part of China. While it is practically impossible to see China changing idea, Taiwan is fiercely independent and drifting ever more away from China.

What will happen will be a moment of truth in deciding who will be the dominant empire of the future.

3 scenarios

  • 1962 Cuba Kennedy style scenario. The USSR was trying to set up nuclear missiles on Cuba and at the end at to retreat as the US looked ready to start a nuclear war.
  • 1956 Suez Canal Crisis style scenario. This is by definition the moment where the British Empire ended. Egypt nationalized the Suez canal and Israel, under the benevolent watch of Britain and France, occupied part of the Suez Canal. While the military operation was technically a success, both France and Britain had to retreat under pressure from the USSR and the USA.
  • An actual limited war. While a “US win” scenario is almost impossible to see as Taiwan is too close to China and China has achieved an “area saturation level”, the aim should be to make it too costly in term of human and military costs. It almost reminds me of Iwo Jima that costed the life of 25,000 people (plus 20,000 wounded) for an island of barely 20 square kilometre and the Japanese having very little heavy weaponry.

Taiwan would be a much harder objective. While the Taiwanese army is very much smaller it is preparing for an invasion from 1949 with tunnels and traps.

Taiwan is mountainous and with few usable beach and the Chinese Army does not have a sizable paratrooper forces.

Then there is a well defended archipelago (Penghu) that must be taken unless you want the fleet being sunk. While the taking of the archipelago is doable, it is hard as it is defended by over 60,000 troops armed with US weaponry.

The weak link of Taiwan is that it has only two submarines. But it would just need the intervention of a couple of US attack submarines to make a Taiwan takeover an impossible scenario.

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