Several China-Taiwan experts and analysts are saying that Xi Jinping’s military remains a threat to the island nation, despite all the warnings from Taiwan’s allies of a possible counterattack on China.
The Pentagon’s report published in 2021 (Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China) revealed that the People’s Liberation Army intends to execute a “blockade of sea and air traffic” and disrupt imports from Taiwan. In addition, a coordinated air artillery strike and seizure of the country’s outer islands would ensure a victory for the PLA. However, according to the Pentagon, this would only be possible if Taiwan’s allies decided not to intervene.
The capability for a PLA amphibious assault has grown in recent years. Still, the report notes that “large-scale amphibious invasion is one of the most complicated and difficult military operations, requiring air and sea superiority, rapid buildup and maintenance of supplies ashore, and uninterrupted support.”
Such an attack would provoke an immediate reaction from Taiwan’s allies, including the United States, which maintains a constant presence in the China Sea region with its warships. However, Japan’s position is also clear, with the Japanese defense minister saying in 2021 that his country is “family with Taiwan” and that Taiwan’s security “is clearly related to the protection of Okinawa.”
Therefore, a war move of this scale will not be easy for China. Moreover, the PLA’s weaknesses in coordination and strategic cooperation within the army services would seriously impede the success of a possible operation on Taiwan.
When Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, he initiated a campaign to “clean up” corruption within the party, including the PLA. Reforms were implemented to bring in new, younger officers and to unify the Western-style army commands.
However, a recent report published by the U.S. National Defense University showed that senior PLA officers lack comprehensive training in other army services, as well as a lack of experience in overseas military operations.
In this regard, a longtime U.S. Army admiral said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping would be preparing the PLA to be ready in about six years and only then begin an attack on Taiwan.
In a 2021 testimony to the U.S. Congress, Philip Davidson, admiral and former commander for the Indo-Pacific, said he believed a Chinese invasion of Taiwan was possible.
“I am concerned that they are accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order,” Davidson said. “They’ve been saying for a long time that they want to do it by 2050, I’m concerned that they’re bringing that goal forward.”
“Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before that,” he added. “And I think the threat will manifest itself during this decade. In fact, within the next six years.”
Davidson said that “forty years of strategic ambiguity” had “helped maintain Taiwan and its current status,” but that the official U.S. position on the matter “should be routinely reconsidered.”
The United States does not recognize Taiwan as a nation independent of China. However, President Joe Biden has stated that the U.S. will react on Taiwan’s behalf if the communist Chinese regime decides to attack.
Recently, according to CNN, CIA Deputy Director David Cohen said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping wants the Chinese military to be ready to retake Taiwan in 2027.
“He (Jinping) has not made the decision to do that, but he has asked his military to put him in a position where if that’s what he wants to do, he could do it. According to CNN, Cohen said the Intelligence Community continues to believe that Jinping’s interest in Taiwan is to gain control by non-military means.”
He further noted that U.S. intelligence agencies are closely watching the Russian situation and assessing China’s actions on Taiwan if the Russian-Ukrainian war could affect the political state in the strait.
On the sidelines of Nancy Pelosi’s visit over the past month, China released a white paper on Taiwan on Aug. 10, titled “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era.” The report shows Xi Jinping’s intentions on Taiwan beyond the threatening military exercises and fighter jet overflights. The “one country, two systems” concept in Taiwan would not be entirely aimed at implementing a governing regime on the island nation. Still, it would be more focused on maintaining a system similar to that of Hong Kong.
“Taiwan can continue with its current social system and enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law,” the white paper states. However, it does not indicate anything related to the form of government. Instead, it stresses that reunification should be done ” peacefully” and “recognize that mainland China and Taiwan have their own social systems and ideologies. […] Differences in social system are neither an obstacle to reunification nor a justification for secessionism.”
Although the white paper reiterates that reunification should be “peaceful,” the Chinese Communist Party states, “we will not renounce the use of force and reserve the option to take all necessary measures.”
The upcoming 20th CCP Congress is to be held in October, where Xi puts an unprecedented third term in the Communist Party at stake, something neither Mao Zedong nor Deng Xiaoping could achieve. Therefore, the Taiwan Strait is a hidden weapon the Chinese leader would use to gain a foothold within the party. Moreover, with the PLA changes, Xi wants to win over the top commanders. Therefore, the rumor about a possible advance in Taiwan with an army “ready” for any decision is a wink to test the loyalty of the Chinese army.