A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would likely fail if the United States helped defend the island – but would come at a debilitating cost to the US military itself, according to a US think tank.
Military experts convened by the Center for Strategic and International Studies to War the Conflict said every likely direct participant in a war – the United States, China, Taiwan and Japan – would suffer “enormous” casualties.
Chinese missiles would likely destroy US airbases in Japan and as far away as Guam, and sink two US aircraft carriers and between 10 and 20 destroyers and cruisers early in the invasion.
But the Chinese invasion force itself would be destroyed before it had even occupied a significant portion of Taiwan, and ultimately would be prevented from achieving its goal of capturing the island’s capital, Taipei, according to most. scenarios tested.
That, along with damage to mainland targets from Taiwanese counterattacks, could destabilize the power of the Chinese Communist Party, the report said.
“We came to two conclusions,” said Eric Heginbotham, a security expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“First, under most circumstances, China is unlikely to succeed in its operational objectives or occupy Taipei,” he said.
“Second, the cost of war would be high for everyone involved, certainly including the United States.”
The war game tested 24 different scenarios focusing on China trying to take over the island by invasion in 2026. The United States was crucial: without America’s help, Taiwan would be conquered by the Military. popular release in three months or less.
The war game assumed that the invasion would begin with an opening bombardment by China that would destroy most of Taiwan’s navy and air force within hours. The Chinese Navy would surround Taiwan and begin transporting a landing force of thousands of PLA troops and their equipment across the Taiwan Strait.
In what wargamers called the most likely scenario, the Taiwanese military would bog down the invaders on the coast.
“Meanwhile, U.S. submarines, bombers and fighter/attack aircraft, often reinforced by Japanese self-defense forces, rapidly cripple China’s amphibious fleet,” the report said.
“China’s strikes on Japanese bases and US surface ships cannot change the outcome: Taiwan remains self-governing,” he said.
Matthew Cancian of the US Naval War College said there were crucial variables that success depended on.
First, he said, Taiwan itself must be determined to fight back.
Second, Japan must allow the United States to launch counterattacks from bases on Japanese territory.
Without it, Cancian said, “then American intervention would not be enough to maintain Taiwan’s autonomy.”
In such cases, the human casualties would be high, around 10,000 in the first weeks of the war. The war game raised significant unknowns, such as whether the United States would risk nuclear war by attacking China directly.
He also questioned whether the American and Japanese public would be willing to accept the losses associated with defending Taiwan, saying American losses could hurt Washington’s ability to project global power for a very long time.
“The United States could achieve a Pyrrhic victory, suffering more in the long run than the ‘defeated’ Chinese,” the report said.
The report says Taiwan and the U.S. military need to build up their forces, focusing on the toughest and most effective weapons, to create more deterrence against a Chinese invasion.
“Despite the rhetoric about adopting a ‘porcupine strategy’, Taiwan still spends most of its defense budget on expensive ships and planes that China will quickly destroy,” he said. .