Saturday, May 26, 2007

US Bluntly Warns China: You Don't Have It To Take Taiwan

A new Pentagon report bluntly warns the Chinese that the consequences of attacking Taiwan would be too great to bear:

In the report, the Defense Department explicitly describes what would happen if China should attack Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island that Beijing claims as its own. It says China does not yet have "the military capability to accomplish with confidence its political objectives on the island, particularly when confronted with the prospect of U.S. intervention."

An attack could severely damage China's economy and lead to international sanctions, spur a Taiwan insurgency that could tie up the Chinese military for years, and possibly cause Beijing to lose its coveted hosting rights for the 2008 Olympics, the report said.

"Finally, China's leaders recognize that a conflict over Taiwan involving the United States would give rise to a long-term hostile relationship between the two nations - a result that would not be in China's interests," the report said.

Michael Pillsbury, a former Pentagon official who now serves as an adviser on China issues, called the Taiwan language the "most blunt warning in any U.S. document in history to China of the really bad things that will happen if they attack Taiwan."

I sometimes wonder if the US underestimates China's abilities, and the new links it is forging with the pro-China side in is interesting that they chose to warn Beijing that it could lose its right to host the '08 Olympics -- as if they know China is at this very moment contemplating an attack. I've speculated before what a Chinese attack might look like, and also that it might be sooner than anyone thinks.

The "blunt warning" misses a key point: sanctions go both ways. While the US has been breaking its military and its treasury in its stupid and criminal failure in Iraq, China has been on the march all over the world. If the US intervenes, Chinese markets might be closed to it for years afterwards, and Chinese allies hostile to its interests. Here's a sobering thought for the Pentagon: we are more hated than China at the moment, and given the manifest incompetence and venality of our President, this will only get worse.


Boyd Jones said...

Do you feel the Taiwanese would really mount an insurgency? I am sure a few would -- but the vast majority of Taiwanese would probably want to get on with their lives. The Taiwanese would not, like say the Israelis, fight to a man and then some after being conquered.

Anonymous said...

For the most part Michael I agree with most of your statements but allow me to discuss the following: "While the US has been breaking its military and its treasury in its stupid and criminal failure in Iraq, China has been on the march all over the world."

Only the U.S. Army is extended in Iraq. Not the U.S. Navy and Air Force which I'm a part of. The warning clearly points towards U.S. intervention involving mainly U.S. air/naval forces, not any ground troops. More than 60% of the buildup on Guam and Okinawa involves mainly the Air Force and Navy. Of course the Marines hasn't really been exhausted either.

The MAIN military unit in Iraq is the U.S. Army.

So I sort of disagree with that particular statement unless you can prove otherwise.

On the other hand, I wholeheartedly and entirely agree that Bush is a knucklehead as well as several members of his administration, but looking at the other 08' presidential candidates, I don't really see a total difference except on Iraq, but not on Taiwan. I think most of them are ignorant on Taiwan, however Taiwan's greatest weapon is going to be its democracy if things hit the fan.

Overall, very good analysis as usual except on that one statement that the U.S. is draining its resources into Iraq. It's just the U.S. army.

ps- if I'm wrong, then please point it out

Michael Turton said...


Read this The Navy is also performing other missions. But of course you are right, the main burden of the occupation falls on the Army.


Anonymous said...

Also Michael what about the trade issues. You know we have a new Congress nowadays and the Democrats seem to be more critical and view China as an economic threat and they're forcing the Bush administration to get tough with China in the area of trade. I don't know if you've noticed but I have. Also it seems the new Congress has paid more attention and are trying to pull out of Iraq, particularly the Democrats, but there are a couple of knuckleheads who are ignoring the "ringing alarm bells" regarding China.

Also I've posted this analysis from you as always on facebook so that other young Americans like myself and Taiwanese, Chinese, and other peoples concerned can see this analysis from you. Quite a couple of people have checked out your blogs Michael, you're getting famous. ^_^. You can thank me later..j/k.

Anonymous said...

"The Navy is also performing other missions. But of course you are right, the main burden of the occupation falls on the Army."

I agree. But yeah I knew the Army had most of the burden. I'm also aware of naval forces off Iran and stuff like that but most of the Navy and Air Force are in the Pacific arena.

Thanks for clarifying Michael. :)

JZ said...

10% of the population of Taiwan siding with the PRC is enough to make a take over work. It is a number the US can only dream of in Iraq. The PRC knows how to deal with insurgency. I also think a population swap would occur: force Independence supporters to live in Henan or other inland province, and move mainlanders to live in Taiwan. However, I still do not think war is likely in the short term as Michael thinks.

If the KMT wins next year, things will go steady. I also think Frank Hsieh will keep things steady. So there will at least be peace between 2008 and 2012. For the US and people of Taiwan, it is only a matter of waiting till Chen Shui-bian has gone away and pray he does not do anything stupid before that. Chen Shui-bian is unpredictable and a liability for both the US and China, and the people of Taiwan.

If things go badly, and you are still in Taiwan, I would move to a densely populated area. I am pretty sure the PLA won't deliberately target civilians.

David said...

Good stuff Michael. Excellent analysis. I don't think that Beijing will make a move prior to the Olympics...too much money and goodwill at stake. I could see the mainland making a move sometime in '09.

I also think the US has more to lose than China if they intervene. While the US has been busy with the mess in Iraq, the Chinese have been making friends in many parts of the world.

Unknown said...

Taiwan better hope that Paulson doesn't pull a Kissinger in any financial talks with China and sell out the island once again. The women whom he is dealing with, Wu Yi, is a staunch anti-TIer. (see wiki)
She is also a former petroleum engineer, ex-deputy mayor of Beijing during Tienanmen and ex Health Minster during SARS Paulson's Goldman Sachs is already deeply tied into China with bank IPOs and selling junk mortgage bonds and everything else as well all know.

Here is something fishy from:
(an interesting website, search May archives for this): So China is investing $3 billion in the Blackstone Group. Anything interesting about Blackstone? The billionaire co-founder of Blackstone, Steve Schwarzman, was George W. Bush's dorm mate at Yale, where they were both members of the Skull and Bones secret society.

When you really take a look at the US$ and the dire situation the fiat (petro)currency is in, it makes you wonder how the USA can pull off protecting Taiwan.
recommend link (Jim Willie, - all his articles are worth reading)

Also, a possible Shanghai stock market collapse may be bad news or Taiwan(riots in China/a good time for Chicoms to divert attention?)

The war bells for a US/Iran confrontation seem to be ringing again, also not good news for Taiwan.

Ke Yuehan said...

Michael, I agree with Walter. Remember, while the PLA is more than capable of lobbing missiles at Taiwan, this does not equate to unification by force. The PLA would have to physically occupy Taiwan, and they (according to Jane's latest estimates in print), don't have anywhere near the naval assets to do this.

Also, with regard to your comment abou their markets being closed to us, I think you have that backwards. The current trade imbalance is heavily in their favor. Without access to our markets in the US, the Chinese economy would go in the tank. Russia and the EU cannot hope to come close to taking over our demand for Chinese made goods.

Next, if the Chinese have learned nothing in the last 17 years, it should be that noone loves or can defend one country invading a much smaller, weaker one. No one really supported Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and only slightly more than no one supported our invasion of Iraq in 03...

China has no real allies, that's just not the way they fight wars. They have never really fought with allies (except when we forced CKS to work with us in WWII), only lackies (e.g., the North Koreans and the Vietnamese until the 70's).

Lastly, I really have nothing to say to dispute your reading of the current president, but then again he's got less than 18 months of real power, and I don't see the Chinese doing anything until they at least see who the front-runners of each party are.

Great blog!

Mark said...

That kind of saber-rattling is a bit unsettling. Why write a report like that?

Anonymous said...

michael, which of the top presidential candidates is the best informed on taiwan( not counting tancredo, who isn't a front runner) ? also, do you have an escape plan for your family if there were an invasion? and finally, ac at forumosa is saying that the pentagon' s tough talk was inspired by the rmb revaluation issue. do you agree? hope you have time to answer!! happy memorial day!

Michael Turton said...

Mark, it was very unsettling to me. Almost as if they are daring China to take Taiwan.

v, I can't tell yet who is the most informed candidate. Maybe ac-dropout is right, but consider the source ;). If the Chinese invade I'll stay here and document, document, document. If things get hairy AIT has an escape plan.


Michael Turton said...

Yuehan, thanks for the compliments.

First I think the bean-counting approach underestimates the power of political approach. Sure, by US standards China's navy is too weak to take Taiwan, but in the HanGuang exercise last year, they had the Chinese putting their troops on fishing boats.

Too many unknowns. But you guys are right, sometimes I am just too pessimistic.


Anonymous said...

Trust me, if China invade Taiwan, it will be with US' blessing. Just when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Such as announcing that war between Taiwan and China is a civil matter.

Anonymous said...

Re: The next POTUS,
Ron Paul, who I respect and think is the only savior for the USA, had this say about Taiwan recently:

(CNN John)KING:..I do want to get your views on foreign policy. Let me give you another example. If China took back Taiwan today, you say go to the Congress, or does the president not have the authority as commander in chief?

PAUL: Absolutely he does not have the authority. Where does he get it? You can't go to war without Congressional approval. And that's not a threat to our national security. That's something internal affairs. Why should we send hundreds of thousands of Americans to die in a civil war? link

Unrelated, but good mp3 audio: The Coming China Wars (financial) P. Navarro is Prof at UC Irvine.

Lastly, a link that explains simplistically how the fixed exchange rate in China is causing all kinds of financial problems on the PRC side.