Defending Taiwan

By Elbridge Colby

The Biden administration faces a stark reality: Over the next four years it’s possible that China will try to take Taiwan. For the first time since 1950, Beijing may reasonably think it has a viable military option to force what it regards as a renegade province to heel. President Xi Jinping has said Taiwan must be part of China—and has signaled he intends to do something about it.

The stakes for America are immense. Keeping Taiwan out of Beijing’s grip is crucial for denying China’s goal of attaining regional hegemony and eventually global pre-eminence. The island occupies a pivotal geographic position. If Taiwan falls, China would have the ability to project military power throughout Asia. Japan, the Philippines, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands would all be more vulnerable to China’s military. …

But the U.S. must do four things, urgently.

First, deploy an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system to monitor Chinese airfields and ports of embarkation, and to target Chinese invasion forces should conflict erupt.

Second, buy more long-range munitions, especially antiship weapons, and position them in the region at sea and in places like Guam, Japan and the Philippines. This would help make the U.S. ready to blunt the initial waves of the Chinese amphibious fleet and air-assault elements.

Third, have powerful forces further back in the Pacific and beyond ready to reinforce those blunting forces.

Fourth, routinely exercise these three components together to demonstrate to Chinese military planners that launching an attack would be unlikely to succeed.

The U.S. can likewise handle a Chinese attempt to blockade or bombard Taiwan into submission. Especially with American support, the Taiwanese would be unlikely to buckle under such pressure, even if brutal, since the alternative is to be swallowed up by Xi Jinping’s China. This is especially true if Taiwan had stockpiled enough food, energy supplies and other essentials. A well-prepared U.S. could also conduct a “Taipei sealift” to deliver the supplies needed to prevent China’s from strangling the island’s populace….

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