One of the biggest lies heard in the American media is that China may invade Taiwan. China has 1300 million people, so how can Taiwan with only 22 million people possibly defend itself. The simple answer is 100 miles of water, known as the Taiwan straits. A Chinese invasion would require an amphibious force larger than the Anglo-American force which landed at Normandy in 1944. China has only 10% of the naval power needed just to attempt a difficult invasion against Taiwan, which has only three practical landing sites, all heavily fortified. Anyone who performs some quick research will find that no expert believes China is capable of invading Taiwan, nor that it is building the naval force needed. All major powers acquire new warships every year, but every new Chinese warship is treated as proof of growing Chinese power by the American media.
The air forces among these two nations are considered an even match. China has more aircraft, but Taiwan has more sophisticated fighters with pilots who are much better trained. In addition, Taiwan's fighters operating in a defensive role would have the advantages of Taiwanese ground radar, E-2C airborne radar, and surface-to-air missile support. The Chinese Air Force could inflict damage on Taiwan, but would lose most of its Air Force in the process. It could fire some 300 missiles at Taiwan, but they are not precision guided and would have no military effect. In short, a massive Chinese air and missile attack could kill a thousand Taiwanese and cause some damage, but China's airpower would be sacrificed.
Likewise, the larger Chinese Navy could attempt to blockade Taiwan, but would be gradually sunk by sophisticated Taiwanese anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry. Last May, Professor Bernard Cole of the U.S. Naval War College, appeared on C-Span and informed America that China cannot invade Taiwan, and would be hard pressed to to blockade the island. The American media ignored this news, but made the U.S. offer to sell Taiwan "new" weapons a major story. Taiwan's lukewarm reaction confused most reporters. What happened is that the Pentagon was asked to develop a list of weapons to offer Taiwan, so the Generals and Admirals recommended that Taiwan buy used American weapons which they plan to retire. Most of these weapons are unsuitable for Taiwan's needs, and are overpriced considering their age.
Despite the image of a growing China superpower portrayed in the American media, China's military remains second class. Estimates of Chinese military spending range from the CIA's $12.6 billion a year, to $37.5 billion by the respected Institute of Strategic Studies, whose latest "1999" data will be cited throughout this article. Interestingly, both China and Taiwan (which spends $10.7 billion annually) devote a smaller percentage of their GDP to their military than the USA, which spent a whopping $305.4 billion in 1999. President Bush has also proposed a two-year increase in military spending that will exceed China's entire military budget. In contrast, news reports of China's "big military build-up" over the past two years fail to note that it just matches its economic growth, and amounts only $4 billion more each year. China does have nuclear weapons, but the USA has many times more and would use them to retaliate if Taiwan were nuked.
The most ignored aspect of the China-Taiwan conflict is China's other national security concerns. It has a long disputed border with unstable Russia (which spends $55.0 billion each year on its military). China also has a disputed border with India ($10.7 billion) which resulted in a short war in 1962 and a 1986 border clash. India's population will surpass China's by 2020, and Indians are irritated by Chinese military sales to their archrival Pakistan. Tensions with Vietnam ($0.9 billion) remain since 1979 when China invaded to teach them a lesson about invading Cambodia, resulting in a stalemate which killed 55,000 Chinese. Finally, China is wary of the Japanese, who killed millions of its citizens during World War II. Japan spends more on its military than China ($41.1 billion in 1999) and possesses the most powerful air and naval force in the Western Pacific. Japan may seem docile today, but politicians change quickly, and all Asian nations worry since Japan has begun building amphibious ships.
China's leaders have profited from better relations with the West. They are modernizing and enjoying the benefits of technology and trade. Starting a winless war with Taiwan would result in trade embargos and increased internal unrest among China's diverse cultures. The billions of dollars in new Taiwanese and American investment in China would end forever. China's unfriendly neighbors would support Taiwan and deploy forces to their borders in protest. Meanwhile, China's Air Force and Navy would suffer devastating losses fighting Taiwan, leaving the entire nation vulnerable to land grabs by hostile neighbors and internal revolts. A senseless war with Taiwan would cause China would lose everything it has gained over the past 20 years.
The Chinese seek no tension with the USA. They have learned to exploit the corrupt American political system for their own gain. American defense contractors are happy to sell them anything that can be excused as a commercial venture, and classified American military technology can be acquired indirectly; click Israeli sales to China for details. The Chinese have talked tough about taking control of their "renegade" province for over 50 years, but remain far too weak to take action. However, these facts are ignored as the U.S. Navy pretends that its aircraft carriers protect Taiwan from invasion, and whenever the U.S. military establishment points to potential enemies to justify spending increases. China will not attack Taiwan, and even if they do, Taiwan can defend itself.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
August 2001 Articles
have been returned to the Members Library
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
Aircraft Carriers Need Marine Air - improve capabilities while saving money
Inexpensive Space Launches - using compressed air
Buzzard Aircraft - ideal for counter-insurgency missions
Frequency Hopping Radar - avoids jamming
American Heavy Mortars in World War II - historical support for 155mm mortars
The Automatic 120mm mortar - just a bad idea
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