US has few good options if China seizes islands near Taiwan, war game concludes US has few good options if China seizes islands near Taiwan, game concludes of war


The scenario, sketched in a report of the Center for a New American Security, began with China using military force to take control of Dongsha, a small atoll in the South China Sea between Taiwan and Hong Kong, where about 500 Taiwanese troops are stationed.

This type of limited aggression could be a precursor to the seizure of other islands near Taiwan or an outright invasion of the democratically ruled island as Beijing seeks to test and incite Washington to defend Taiwan.

But once China established its own military footprint on Dongsha and pulled out Taiwanese troops, the United States had no credible way to coerce China into returning the island to Taipei’s control, the report said. Economic sanctions took too long to produce effects and appeared too weak to influence China’s decision-making, while any military action risked escalation into war, which the United States and Taiwan want to avoid if possible. .

Instead, the report stressed the need for a multilateral approach, suggesting that the United States, Taiwan, Japan and others are working to dissuade China from seizing the island in the first place. .

“The United States and Taiwan must begin to coordinate today to create a credible deterrent against limited Chinese aggression or coercion against Taiwan,” the authors wrote. In all scenarios, cooperation with Japan was essential to establish an effective deterrent.

Rising tensions

Beijing has increased military pressure on the island in recent weeks and Taiwan’s defense minister earlier this month made a dire prediction: By 2025, China will be able to mount a “large-scale” invasion of Taiwan. The war game focused on an invasion of Dongsha in 2025.
Last week, US President Joe Biden said the United States was determined to come to the defense of Taiwan if attacked by China – remarks that seemed to oppose the stated US policy of “strategic ambiguity”.

When asked twice in a CNN town hall whether the United States would protect Taiwan if China attacks, Biden said yes.

“Yes, we are committed to doing it,” he said.

White House official tried to clarify Biden’s comments on Taiwan after town hall, saying the president “was not announcing any change in our policy and there was no change in our policy” in his remarks on China and Taiwan.

The United States is providing defensive weapons to Taiwan, but has been intentionally ambiguous about its military intervention in the event of a Chinese attack. As part of the “One China” policy, the United States recognizes China’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.

But the issue is at the center of the administration’s concerns, and China’s plans for Taiwan are among the “overriding issues” for the CIA’s new China Mission Center, a newly created body dedicated exclusively to collecting. and Beijing intelligence analysis, CIA deputy director David Cohen said. said at an intelligence conference this week.

Intelligence officials have yet to see anything to suggest that China is planning a military invasion, according to people familiar with the assessments.

Cohen, speaking virtually at a conference in Sea Island, Ga., Said the agency’s analysts were trying “to figure out precisely how [Chinese president] Xi Jinping, who is basically the decision-maker on this issue, how he thinks about Taiwan “, both” in relation to the [20th Chinese Communist Party Congress]”in 2022 and” relative to the comparative strength of the Chinese army and the US military “.

China celebrates 50 years at UN, determined to prevent Taiwan from entering

The aim is to provide policymakers with “indicators” of a possible invasion – the factors that motivate Chinese decision-making – so that US policymakers can determine the best course of action.

“There is a number one set of issues with China,” Cohen said. “Taiwan is definitely one of the number one issues with China that we are focusing on.”

Former intelligence officials also speaking at The Cipher Brief suggested that a brutal military takeover of Taiwan was unlikely, but that China would more likely follow the model used by Russia in its annexation of Crimea in 2014: a secret and slow takeover first followed by more overt military movements to solidify the reality on the ground.

Xi also “without a doubt concluded that he is to his advantage when he decides to travel to Taiwan to coordinate these activities with the Russians in order to complicate the US problem with multiple crises,” said Mark Kelton. , former deputy director of the CIA.

“Taiwan is going to be a test”

“Taiwan is going to be a test,” said Norm Roule, former head of national intelligence on Iran. “Our determination on China in Taiwan should be questioned. People should say, ‘If you weren’t defending Afghanistan, would you defend other countries?’

China has shown a broad willingness to test this determination. In recent weeks, China has sent a record number of military jets to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), including fighter jets and early warning planes. The incursions did not violate Taiwan’s airspace, which stretches 12 nautical miles from the coast, but signaled a clear message of Beijing’s intention.

“With the daily incursions into the air identification zone surrounding Taiwan, Xi clearly signals and tests Western resolve,” former CIA deputy director of counterintelligence, Mark Kelton, said at the conference.

Rahm Emanuel, Biden's candidate to be sent to Japan, says China would be at the center of the work

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for Taiwan’s “meaningful participation” in the United Nations, hailing the island as a “democratic achievement”. Even though Taiwan could participate as something less than a full member state, such a move to recognize Taipei would anger Beijing, which has made it clear that it sees Taiwan as part of China.

“The fact that Taiwan has actively participated in certain specialized UN agencies for the vast majority of the past 50 years is proof of the value that the international community places on Taiwan’s contributions. Recently, however, Taiwan has not been allowed to contribute to UN efforts. He said in a statement.

China’s strong objections have kept Taiwan away from international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO). The United States has maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity over Taiwan, refusing to recognize the island’s independence while refusing to recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

“Taiwan’s exclusion undermines the important work of the UN and its related bodies, all of which should benefit greatly from its contributions,” Blinken said.


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