Twenty Chinese fighter jets entered the Taiwan Air Identification Zone on Friday, March 26, in the most massive radar raid ever recorded on the island. In the hostile formation, the Taipei command identified four nuclear-capable H-6K bombers. Unusual activity for its aggression, Taiwanese argue; Beijing replies that it is about exercises demonstrating the determination to defend one’s national sovereignty. And here comes the point. According to Beijing’s statements, every move denounced by the West as aggressive and expansionist (from the normalization of Hong Kong to the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea) is a legitimate defense of national sovereignty. Taiwan is the next target, there is no doubt about that. We just have to try to imagine the timing of the action, to try to prevent them.
The Chinese military build-up
There are numerous signs of an acceleration in Beijing. After having favored large land units for decades for the defense of the borders with Russia and India, the Chinese army recently has tripled its landing strength: today it can count on 35,000 men trained like US marines. Departments equipped with fast and versatile hovercraft-type vehicles, protected by air forces and airborne artillery. According to US intelligence in 2017, the Chinese only had 10,000 Marines. The man-made islands built in the South China Sea have been fortified and would inflict heavy casualties on the American fleet; the development of anti-aircraft land-based missiles worries the Pentagon.
China’s military actions towards Taiwan
Raids by Chinese jets beyond the midline of the Taiwan Strait have intensified since last year. In 2020 they forced the island’s fighters to fly 3,000 times. And every time one of Taiwan’s 140 F-16s takes off in pursuit of a Chinese aircraft, its operational life is shortened. The pilots of Taipei are also under stress: eight fatal accidents in 2020. The last mission of the 20 Chinese planes is also part of this tactic of wearing down the opponent. Observing all these maneuvers by the Chinese armed forces, Admiral Philip Davidson of the American Indo-Pacific Command just informed the Washington Congress that China could attempt a military solution within the next six years.
The invasion of Taiwan in 2027: why
Not a randomly chosen date. Six years would mean 2027, which has significant significance in China’s political calendar. In 2022, the Congress of the Communist Party will be held, called to extend the mandate of Xi Jinping as general secretary and president of the People’s Republic for five years. Since 2012, when he was first appointed, Xi has begun to say that the Taiwanese province must return to the motherland, the question can no longer be left open and passed on to future generations. He now has five more years, until 2027, to keep his promise and deliver himself to history as the great reunifier. Xi, who also chairman of the Central Military Commission, continues to order the army of prepare to fight to win a war. Beijing analysts report that Taiwan will be the story of the next five years. Perhaps they do so at the request of foreign policy strategists, anxious to distract Washington’s attention from Hong Kong, Xinjiang, human rights and business practices. But the temptation must be strong. At each meeting with the Americans, the Chinese delegates recall that the relations between the two superpowers are based on the recognition that there is only one China. This, according to Xi Jinping, means that the Taiwanese province must return to the motherland.
Washington and the doctrine of strategic ambiguity
Washington has been applying the doctrine of strategic ambiguity for decades: fhe arms the ally he does not recognize as a sovereign government, sends the units of his fleet to display the flag in the Taiwan Strait, keeps his strategic bombers in flight, but does not say whether he would go to war to defend it. So far the strategic ambiguity has been sufficient; or so far Beijing has thought about strengthening its device, evaluating the risk and the determination of the opponent. It is up to Beijing to make its own calculations of costs and benefits, according to the game of strategic ambiguity. But what if Joe Biden finds himself in a position to get out of the ambiguity? The People’s Liberation Army could attempt more limited but destabilizing actions: Chinese TV in January broadcast footage of a cruise missile destroying a building. It is a CJ-10, a precision device capable of bringing a 500 kg explosive warhead to the target. It was a decapitation experiment, a warning to Taiwan, Beijing said, pointing out that the CJ-10 can be programmed to sneak precisely into the window of a building within a two-thousand-kilometer radius. Taiwan is less than 200 from the mainland coast. At the moment, Beijing’s strategy still seems to be based on the physical and psychological wear and tear of the opponent. On the diplomatic front, it uses its economic power to convince one by one the few governments that still recognize Taiwan to cut off relations: there are only 15 left and the only one of weight is that of the Vatican City, which notoriously has no armed divisions to deploy. . What would Joe Biden’s United States do? what if during a demonstration raid there was a firefight in the skies of Taiwan or if a missile hit the island?
March 27, 2021 (change March 27, 2021 | 13:53)