Millions Without Connectivity, Banks in Disarray, and Taiwan’s Semiconductor Powerhouse Grinds to a Halt in the Face of a Potential Chinese Invasion. The island’s security planners run simulated worst-case scenarios constantly to prepare for the day Beijing decides to try to take over. This is a crucial task often overlooked by those outside the region. But for the US to be successful in helping defend Taiwan, it must believe that Taiwan is truly a friend and not just an object of Chinese aggression.
But the real problem with a war with China isn’t invading or reunifying the island under Chinese rule. It’s a more significant challenge that spans years and costs trillions of dollars. Therefore, the US must be careful how it approaches any conflict with China over Taiwan, particularly given its current economic woes.
The US must think about defending Taiwan in ways that don’t involve a costly and ill-planned invasion of its territory. That means rethinking its defense budget to invest in new capabilities like counterinsurgency, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and cyber warfare. It also means reducing its dependence on expensive, vulnerable, and complicated systems for command, control, communications, and weapons platforms. Many of those systems are legacy technologies that don’t have the same relevance today, and they’re a drain on an already stretched military budget.
One area that needs a major revamp is logistics. This includes establishing a base to handle heavy supplies of troops and equipment and developing an emergency airlift capability. A failure in this area could spell disaster for any American-backed operation, as the experience of Ukraine shows. When the Ukrainian military ran out of fuel, it couldn’t use its helicopters or land transport to replenish its stockpiles. In a similar situation, if an ample supply of supplies gets held up by Chinese forces, it may be months before the US can get them to Taiwan.
The other key issue is addressing the “Ukraine model.” That refers to how the US and Western aid slowly trickled into that country once Russia started its military assault. It’s a lesson that Taiwan must learn from and act on quickly.
While some experts believe a full-scale invasion of Taiwan is unlikely, others are less optimistic about the threat from Beijing. Dan Grazier, a senior policy fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, believes a Chinese attack will disrupt the trade in food and fuel that China relies on for its survival and could trigger a collapse of the Chinese economy in short order.
A more likely scenario is a series of strategic moves from China designed to pressure or subdue Taiwan. These could range from stepped-up coercion to an outright military invasion. The latter is a more daunting task because it’s likely to lead to a prolonged war that could bring in international sanctions against China, as well as a US-led blockade of the country.