Sunday, June 17, 2007

More Media stuff on Taiwan

Preparing for finals in the PHD program, so not much time to blog today... former AIT head Therese Shaheen writes at American Enterprise Institute on the US relationship with Taiwan:

The rhetoric-reality gap provokes obvious questions: What preconditions are in place to ensure that military action is a last resort? Under what circumstances would the U.S. intervene? What is the state of the Taiwan military leadership? How ready are Taiwan's forces to defend themselves? How ready are U.S. forces to work with them, should that be necessary?

Taiwan might be more serious about providing for its own defense and less reliant on U.S. commitments if there were greater clarity into what they mean and how they might be discharged. But the limited interaction imposed by the reality of U.S.-China-Taiwan circumstances has made this goal difficult to achieve. Today, the bureaucracy makes decisions by self-policing an unstated policy of "nothing goes." One recent example: In May, the U.S. National Press Club hosted a discussion with Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian by video link. U.S. officials at the desk-officer level concluded that it would undermine policy to attend this public event, reasoning that Mr. Chen's appearance was intended as an attempt to circumvent restrictions on senior Taiwan officials visiting Washington, D.C.

But the lack of interaction goes beyond one-off, questionable decisions such as that. Military officers at the one-star level or above, or the civilian equivalent, are not permitted to meet in Taiwan with their counterparts. While there is serious contingency planning at high levels on both sides, senior U.S. planners and decision makers do not interact with their Taiwan counterparts. The dialogue instead is conducted by proxy at lower levels of government.

Even simple meetings are less frequent in recent years. As late as 2003, State and Defense Department officials--albeit at the mid-grade deputy assistant secretary level--were permitted to meet regularly with senior Taiwanese officials including the foreign minister outside of Washington, D.C. That contact no longer takes place. At the highest levels, the U.S.-Taiwan relationship would have to get much closer to even describe it as "arms-length." No cabinet-level officials have met their Taiwanese counterparts since the Clinton administration.

That last paragraph is scary....meanwhile, China threatens war over Bush's handshake with Joseph Wu. Right. And from David Lague comes this review of China's growing military ability to threaten Taiwan and the US. The article notes that China's strategy is to absorb the island without a fight -- hence its increasingly close links to the KMT -- but at the same time, China is pursuing weapons that it can use to negate US advantages, and take Taiwan before the US response gets rolling. However, the article ALSO says that China's plan is to attack and isolate US bases in the Pacific in order to prevent US forces from hitting Chinese forces attacking Taiwan. To wit:

There have also been reports in specialist defense publications that the army in September last year used a ground-based laser to temporarily blind a U.S. reconnaissance satellite tracking over China although these reports have not been confirmed.

Measures like these combined with jamming of radars and communications along with attacks on computer networks could force the U.S. military to fight an old-fashioned war, analysts say, where aircraft and warships would be forced to operate without detailed, up-to-date knowledge of the positions and intention of China's forces.

The Chinese Army is also developing its own surveillance and reconnaissance technology, analysts say, including satellites, airborne radar and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to guide precision weapons.

These weapons, including China's rapidly expanding missile force, could be used to attack ports, air bases, communication centers, logistics hubs and military headquarters in East Asia and the Pacific as part of a campaign to interfere with U.S. forces coming to assist Taiwan.

Another priority for China, according to military analysts, is improving its capacity to attack U.S. warships, particularly aircraft carriers, which would be crucial for the defense of Taiwan.

"To prevent deployment of naval forces into western Pacific waters, PLA planners are focused on targeting surface ships at long ranges," the Pentagon report said.


This seems like an updated version of the old "the Americans are soft and will quit if we just hit them hard enough." Even if the Chinese take Taiwan, does anyone really imagine that the US will not continue the fight if China strikes US territories and US assets in the Pacific? Either the Chinese must be very stupid, or the threat estimate has been tweaked....

19 comments:

Mignon Chang said...

Do you really believe that America cares that much for Taiwan? American interests are increasingly leaning towards China. How much support will America be willing to give another foreign country, especially in view of the Iraq freeze?

Sun Bin said...

"Either the Chinese must be very stupid, or the threat estimate has been tweaked...."

is this a typo? I thought you meant to say, "either the AEI anaylyst must be very stupid, ....."

:p

Michael Turton said...

No, that's the second article, Sun Bin. Shaheen isn't stupid. But it seems incredible that the Chinese would sort of indiscriminately hit US assets all over the Pacific, including in Japan, and not expect a war.

Michael

Arty said...

"the Americans are soft and will quit if we just hit them hard enough."

As long as China don't touch what American public consider as US territories i.e. Hawaii, Midway, base in Okinawa etc. However, I think most America will either consider Taiwan is a Chinese territory or an Independent nation. History has taught us that if you hit America hard enough outside of US, she will quit i.e. Vietnam, Somalia, and soon to be Iraq.

walter said...

American interests were increasing leaning towards Europe in WW1 and WW2...why do you think the German U boats attempted to disrupt the trade between the U.S. and Great Britian?

It's the same thing here. History repeats itself and yes I agree with Micheal. If this is what the Chinese in China are really thinking then it IS stupid. The U.S. wouldn't just sit there and not do NOTHING if its bases were hit. The United States is historically known for fierce retaliations.

One good example: Pearl Harbor and the conflict in the Pacific was pretty long, the Japanese were very good fighters but the United States didn't give up.

Zyzyx said...

If US backs off from intervening in Taiwan, it should not be worried. Taiwan is everything for the Chinese, while it is a mere pawn for the US. That is why in any war, the Chinese will win. They will have the motivation to win, while the Americans think they are going to another senseless war which was not needed if their country would just stick to its own business.

Michael Turton said...

Arty, I think you've read Iraq and Vietnam wrong. What history taught there is just the opposite: America will keep going even long, long after it has been defeated, hoping to redeem bad strategy by getting more people killed. The Vietnam war was our longest war....What does that tell you about a war between China and the US?

If you draw the "America will quit" lesson from Vietnam and Iraq, you're drawing the wrong lesson. 180 degrees wrong.

Michael

Arty said...

If you draw the "America will quit" lesson from Vietnam and Iraq, you're drawing the wrong lesson. 180 degrees wrong.

Sure, but that's just your opinion. China will not attack US bases unless we attack China first. Also, a war between US and china could be over as fast as Chinese ICBMs take to reach US and for ours to reach China. Just because of this possibilty, China can do whatever she wants to Taiwan and we won't move a bit. Of
course, my opinion could be wrong. However, I can tell you that we will be gone from Iraq within a year after 2008 election.

Michael Turton said...

Sure, but that's just your opinion

Arty, it's not my "opinion" that we were in Vietnam for more than a decade. In both Vietnam and Iraq, we stuck around long after defeat was obvious. Long, long after. The US might not intervene, but if it does intervene, it won't quit even after defeat is obvious. That's the most important lesson you can draw from our recent history. See also the Confederacy and its continuation of a war it could not win.

Michael

Arty said...

Arty, it's not my "opinion" that we were in Vietnam for more than a decade. In both Vietnam and Iraq, we stuck around long after defeat was obvious.

So I guess I don't know what are we talking about here. The end results are the same. Btw, who do you think is lending us money to fight the war? Who brought close to 1 trillions of our T-bonds? Personally speaking, just for the 1 trillion loan I will give Taiwan for free to China so I can relax in my house that I can only afford because of the low interest rate due to China's demand for T-bond.

walter said...

"As long as China don't touch what American public consider as US territories i.e. Hawaii, Midway, base in Okinawa etc. "


You might want to include "as long as China doesn't touch other DEMOCRACIES either. Where have you been lately? A recent poll showed that Americans made an exception to Taiwan when it came to foreign policy affairs. A recent Zogby poll showed that Americans believed that the U.S. still has a responsibility to defend Taiwan.

Furthermore in a war with Taiwan, this is mainly a naval and air type warfare....those are TWO of China's weaknesses, let alone...no experience in either of these areas.

When was the last time China used a modern navy or air force to accomplish their political objectives?


Also you want to use Iraq and Vietnam, let's talk about when China got its ass kicked right after we left Vietnam. Then on Iraq, you would think that China would have learned that if people don't like being occuppied, they will tie up your military for years. Maybe China can take notes, but nooooo. They're going to invade Taiwan and get defeated..and this is not an opinion, this is based off facts.

Arty watch what you say before you write.

walter said...

"If US backs off from intervening in Taiwan, it should not be worried. Taiwan is everything for the Chinese, while it is a mere pawn for the US. That is why in any war, the Chinese will win."


That's false. Taiwan is everything for the Taiwanese, not Chinese. The Chinese are just falsely obsessed with the island when they can't even govern their own damn selves properly.

Plus please don't leave out Japan. You really think Japan is going to sit there and let China beatup on Taiwan? I doubt it. Where the hell have you been lately?

The Chinese will NOT win this war because there's too many risks involved and this kind of conflict clearly caters to two areas in which the U.S. has both experience and superiority in and that's the sea and the air.

Show me one instance in which China successfully conducted an OVERSEAS invasion and I'll believe you. You can include the time when China under Mongolian rule tried to invade Japan but they were "washed away by a tsunami" ...oops I'm sorry I didn't mean to mention that one..is that too embarrassing? I'm sorry about that.

walter said...

"China will not attack US bases unless we attack China first. Also, a war between US and china could be over as fast as Chinese ICBMs take to reach US and for ours to reach China."

What's to say that if China attacks Taiwan that we won't intervene? The US didn't shift most of its naval forces from the Atlantic to the Pacific for NO REASON man. Also what do you think was the purpose of Japan and the U.S. including Taiwan in their strategic defense? It seems to me that American ambiguity is working as well because it causes the Chinese to really question whether or not America will defend Taiwan or not. I think and believe we will.

Also regarding ICBMs, we have a BMD that is steadily improving which is one reason why even Russia is upset over it. China has no BMD that I know of.

Trace said...

In my opinion the Chinese are too Chickenshit to invade Taiwan. I dont expect it. Even if Taiwan declared independence I doubt they would attack, what they would do is totally isolate Taiwan and thats it.

Communist leaders have no balls.

channing said...

We're being quite confident of the US's willingness to intervene. The Taiwan Relations Act and the US's general Taiwan Strait policy is vague and ambiguous--designed exactly so that the US would minimize the risk to itself and minimize the work it has to do.

The USA really doesn't want to deal with this issue. Can the US stand to displease the benefactor of its biggest trade deficit? We can't just talk military power. Politics encompasses all of human life--social, economic, military.

Just because Taiwan is "democratic" like us" and has a superior military doesn't mean it will dive straight into the interests of the ROC.

The Foreigner said...

The Chinese think they can attack American military assets, cowing America into inaction?

Remember the Maine.

channing said...

I think I fumbled. I meant to say, "Just because Taiwan is democratic like the militarily superior USA doesn't mean the US will dive straight into the interests of the ROC."

Runsun said...

Why Taiwan is Important to USA

Anonymous said...

Why would china touch U.S.A. there stupid they cant do anything right