The inestimable Bill Roggio offers an excellent analysis of the potential for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. In general, I believe that Bill is correct in his analysis and conclusion:
China's near term problems of insufficient military strength to conduct and sustain an amphibious assault, the superior firepower of the opposing American military, the potential economic strangulation from its source of oil and the political implications make it highly unlikely that a full scale invasion is on the horizon. The key factor to consider in this equation is the fortitude of American leadership. President Bush's commitment to freedom and democracy, and his demonstrated willingness to back up his words with actions makes it unlikely any invasion would occur before 2008. Future American leaders must clearly and consistently state the forcible reunification of Taiwan with China is unacceptable, and must show a willingness to back up its words and defend Taiwan from Communist aggression. Strength, support and vigilance are the best deterrents.Bill is absolutely correct that future American leaders must "clearly and consistently state the forcible reunification of Taiwan" is unacceptable. They must also demonstrably provide evidence of U.S. resolve and capability to defend Taiwan both from a conventional and nuclear perspective. On that footing we are in good shape today.
In his analysis Bill did not discuss China’s efforts to develop a strategic oil reserve (evidenced by their higher than consumption purchases over the past year), non-traditional delivery means (see my post on the "string of pearls"), or China’s efforts to expand their naval reach or capability (as Bill says - "it's the logistics stupid"). All of which point to the realization that China’s leaders are aware of the limitations, as would be expected, of their current capability and are simply acting to reduce those shortcomings. Taken into consideration with their efforts to co-opt their recently announced military exercises with Russia, which they are attempting to reorient as a practice exercise mimicking an invasion of Taiwan, it is clear that China is at a minimum signaling their willingness to address their shortcomings and at worst they are delusional enough to believe that they could succeed in doing retaking Taiwan.
I’m confident that our economic strength, military capacity and diplomatic resources are sufficient to defeat any Chinese aggression, but as regular readers of the Little Red Blog know, I do not believe that we can ignore this or any potential threat based on our assumption (even if proper) that we would defeat the enemy.
Bill’s piece is excellent and worth reading, as are many of the comments that follow.