Leadership: The Campaign Against Taiwan

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September 6, 2007: For the last decade, China's strategy against Taiwan was one of intimidation, and changing the balance of forces via a military buildup. The intimidation has taken the form of threatening to invade Taiwan, or blockading it, if Taiwan refused to surrender its independence and become a province of China. Meanwhile, Chinese diplomats worked on Taiwanese politicians, and convinced a significant number of them that it would be unwise, and wasteful, to acquire more weapons. In other words, resistance is futile. Meanwhile, China has obtained over 300 modern jet fighters, to match Taiwan's force of 330. Taiwan has bought no new fighters in the last decade. China emplaced over 600 ballistic missiles on its coast, within range of Taiwan. In response, Taiwan added a 200 Patriot anti-missile missiles. In the last decade, Taiwan added four Kidd (modified Spruance) destroyers to its fleet, while China added nearly eight times as many modern warships and submarines. While Taiwan has developed some new anti-ship and cruise missiles, China has done the same, and manufactured over five times as many missiles.

The Chinese influenced deadlock in Taiwan's parliament has left Taiwan much weaker, compared to the 1990s. Increasingly, Taiwan has been falling back on the American pledge to defend it against Chinese aggression. This pledge has some meaning, because Taiwan is the home of a significant fraction of the worlds production capacity for computers and computer components. While China is not much of a nuclear threat to the United States, that is changing. If current trends continue, in another decade, China will be able to grab Taiwan, and the United States may have a hard time putting up a timely and effective defense. But the major problem is that any military confrontation between China and the United States would do great damage to the world economy, of which China is now a major part. China is a major exporter to rich and poor nations alike. For the United States and the West, war with China would be a political inconvenience. But for Chinese leaders, the economic disruption would put over a hundred million workers (in export dependent industries) out of work, and make worse the existing anger of the working class against government corruption and inefficiency.

 


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