China Would Have Its Hands Full Trying to Conquer Taiwan

    Zachary Keck

    Security, Asia

    Here is why.

    To have any chance of successfully invading Taiwan, then, China would have to establish total air superiority and command of the sea in the area. As Beckley explains, “If Taiwan retained substantial air defenses and offensive strike platforms, a Chinese amphibious invasion would be impossible, because Taiwan could pick off PLA landing craft as they motored across the Taiwan Strait.and sea command in the strait.” Although China has amassed an incredibly large missile force to destroy Taiwan’s defensive capabilities at the outset of a conflict, it would still need to take Taipei by total surprise to be successful. If Taiwan had some advanced warning of an attack, it could disperse its aircraft to some thirty-six military airfield across the islands, while also relying on a number of civilian aistrips and even some highways that double as emergency air bases. Taiwan also has a bunch of road-mobile missile launchers and anti-aircraft weaponry, as well as a number of ships and submarines capable of attacking Chinese forces with cruise missiles.

    With President Xi Jinping having consolidated his power at the 19th Party Congress, and the United States increasingly distracted at home, it may seem like a given that China will reestablish its predominance over the Asia-Pacific region. A new study casts doubt on this, however, arguing that Beijing doesn’t have the military power to defeat its neighbors. In fact, it probably can’t even conquer Taiwan.

    The new study by Michael Beckley, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, was published in the academic journal International Security. In the article, Beckley argues that China’s neighbors could thwart Chinese military aggression through anti-access/area denial strategies with only minimal U.S. assistance.

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