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  • China has been gearing up to invade Taiwan.

  • And the US has failed to act.

  • Is time running out?

  • Welcome to China Uncensored. I'm Chris Chappell.

  • The Chinese Communist Party has become more  and more aggressive with Taiwan. For instance,  

  • sending warplanes near the island nation.

  • Like, a lot of warplanes.

  • Especially when high level  US officials are visiting.

  • And that's because the Chinese Communist Party is  in a bit of a fix. In the past it had said, by the  

  • year 2020, the Chinese Communist Party should be  prepared to invade Taiwan. It basically made the  

  • mistake of all those old science fiction movies  that were set in the far, far future of 1999.

  • But the Chinese regime faces another challenge, in  what it callsreunitingTaiwan. That challenge  

  • is the US. The US is showing  unprecedented levels of support of Taiwan.  

  • Including selling them weapons

  • Like, a lot of weapons.

  • All the weapons.

  • So how has this changed China's invasion  plans? I know the person I need to talk to.  

  • Joining me once again is Ian Easton, senior  director at the Project 2049 Institute.

  • Thanks for joining me Ian.

  • Ian, it's always a pleasure to have you on.

  • Chris, it's a great pleasure to  see you. Thanks for having me.

  • Definitely. So the Chinese Communist Party said  it would be ready to retake Taiwan by 2020.  

  • I mean, I guess there's a few months leftbut how likely do you think that is now?

  • Well, I think happily they're not ready or if they  are, they've decided that they're going to delay a  

  • potential attack on Taiwan, certainly by this time  of the year, if they have not already mobilized,  

  • if they're not already prepared to launch  amphibious fleets, and they're not, then their  

  • window of opportunity has closed. And so Taiwan  is not safe from a potential conflict, of course,  

  • because there's a lot of other things  that the Chinese Communist Party could do,  

  • but they are safe from invasion because  from the end of this month forward, the  

  • sea states that the wind and the wave conditions  and the Taiwan Strait make an invasion virtually  

  • impossible. And that won't change until  the middle of late March of next year.

  • So last time you were on the show, we talked  about how Hong Kong in some ways had saved Taiwan  

  • because the communist party  was so focused on Hong Kong,  

  • that it wasn't spending as  much effort to threaten Taiwan.  

  • Now that the CCP has cracked down on Hong  Kong, are things more dangerous for Taiwan?

  • Yeah, I think it's much more dangerous now. To  your point, the only good thing that has happened  

  • is that folks in Taiwan, and I think here in  Washington, have started to wake up to the  

  • threat. They've seen what happened to Hong KongThey've seen the backsliding on commitments that  

  • the Chinese Communist Party made. And they've  seen this really terrible human right atrocity  

  • with the national security law, which is this  draconian law, which really prevents any real  

  • freedom of press freedom of assembly. Any of the  freedoms promised to the people of Hong Kong.

  • I think that served as a wake-up call, and  that's all to the good. The problem is,  

  • now that the world has been shocked by Hong Kong  and really staggered by what has happened and  

  • not actually done anything to raise the costs for  some of the Chinese Communist Party's outrageous  

  • behavior, I'm afraid that it could be the case  that the CCP elite have drawn a conclusion from  

  • their experience that we really don't want them  to draw. And that conclusion is that they can do  

  • almost anything. They can have concentration camps  in Xinjiang. They can do this massive crackdown,  

  • which again, I think really shocked a lot of  people in Hong Kong, and now they can threaten  

  • Taiwan and no one is going to stand up against  them. And so I'm afraid that for those reasons  

  • and others, that it's going to be very difficult  to prevent a crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

  • So even though the window of opportunity  for an invasion this year has passed,  

  • would you say that we should be more or  less worried about an invasion of Taiwan  

  • in the next year versus this past year?

  • Well, I think with every year that  passes the balance of military power, and  

  • this is not my own assessment, but this is from  the department of defense. And you can read  

  • the recently published report to Congress on  Chinese military power. They released it last  

  • month. According to their assessments, China's  military reform and reorganization program,  

  • which Xi Jinping started in early 2016,  has really changed the nature of the threat  

  • that the United States faces and that Taiwan faces  from the PLA, the People's Liberation Army. And  

  • because China really has engaged in this sweeping  military buildup, I mean, it's really remarkable.  

  • It's actually stunning what they've been  able to do just in the past five years.  

  • And if those trend lines continue into the  future, as I think we have to expect them to  

  • do the balance will continue to tip in the favor  of China and that will encourage them to do what  

  • they've said very publicly they aim to do, and  that is to attack and eventually conquer Taiwan.  

  • And that's something that could drag us into  a superpower war. So it's very dangerous.

  • Well, so let's talk about the Chinese war planes  flying over the median line in the Taiwan Strait.  

  • Before this year, they had done it very  rarely, and now they send something like  

  • over 40 war planes across the line in  the last few weeks. Why are they doing  

  • that? Is it to intimidate Taiwan? Or is  there a tactical reason they're doing it?

  • Well, there's a lot of benefits from them. And you  could look at it from the tactical perspective.  

  • Every time they do that, they're able to gain  intelligence that whenever they send fighters  

  • across the Taiwan Strait media line, which they  no longer recognize that now they've officially  

  • denied that it ever existed. Even though everybody  respected it for really the past two decades,  

  • every time they do that, they have intelligence  gathering aircraft airborne, which are collecting  

  • signals and they have Taiwan on a stopwatchAnd they're seeing how long it takes Taiwan  

  • to scramble its fighters. They're looking at  their characteristics if the Taiwanese turn on  

  • their air defense radars, which I think might be  tempting for them to do in certain circumstances,  

  • the Chinese can collect all of that electronic  data and then they can use it in the future for  

  • deception purposes. They can use it to jam  those radars if they know what frequencies  

  • they run on. And they can learn more  about their electronic order of battle.

  • There's a lot of tactical things they can doThey can also wear down the pilots in Taiwan.  

  • They can wear down the airframes in Taiwan because  of the time we use military now is to constantly  

  • be on strip alert, and they constantly have  to have fighter aircraft actually orbiting  

  • around Taiwan to respond to these incursions  which are happening constantly now. That means  

  • that those are pilots and those are aircraft  that are not available for training. They're not  

  • available for professional military educationThey're not available for their other duties.  

  • And it really wears them down over time. I think  there's been some mixed numbers that have come  

  • out. One report said that Taiwan now was doing  3,000 sorties a year. Another said 4,000 sorties  

  • a year in response to, well, over 2,000 Chinese  military sorties around the Taiwan Strait area.

  • I'm not sure what the actual numbers arebut if that's true, that is just staggering,  

  • because that really is going to overtimeThat is going to wear out the pilots. It's  

  • going to wear out the airframes and it's going  to reduce readiness in Taiwan. Now, of course,  

  • that's just the tactical issue. There's also the  strategic issue. And the strategic issue is that  

  • the Chinese Communist Party has decided to  create a crisis in the Taiwan Strait. And  

  • they have done everything in their power with  their propaganda services, with their military  

  • exercises across from Taiwan. I mean, there's  recently amphibious landing exercises, which  

  • they highlighted. And they said explicitly  that they're preparing to invade Taiwan  

  • in addition to all that aircraft activityAnd in addition to cyber attacks. Taiwan's  

  • constantly being hit by cyber attacks. And so  there's a lot of provocations going on right now.  

  • And one of the questions is why. And  that's a question I think that remains open  

  • to some debate and interpretationbut it's an important one.

  • Well, I know China was also previously very  interested in economic or political infiltration  

  • in Taiwan. And I was in Taiwan earlier this year  for the election and my impression was that China  

  • was genuinely surprised that Tsai Ing-wen won  re-election. How does that affect their strategy?

  • Well, it certainly made it much more  difficult for them to infiltrate Taiwan  

  • and to subvert Taiwan's democratic government  from within. If the opposition candidate had won,  

  • or if the DPP had not won such a sweeping victorybecause they really did win this crushing victory  

  • in their parliament in addition to the presidencyobviously president Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected.  

  • If that had not happened, if that election had  gone another way, I think that would have been  

  • very dangerous for Taiwan's national security  because the opposition party has so many  

  • members whose own behavior in the past, a lot of  which has now come to light, is very questionable.  

  • And it's very questionable why certain  KMT politicians decided to go to Beijing  

  • and to sing the national anthem of the people's  Republic of China. Very questionable why one  

  • of their leading political candidates  is soon to go to the China youth forum  

  • organized by the Chinese Communist Partybut refuses to come visit the United States.

  • And even before the COVID-19 pandemic, they were  refusing to come to the United States and they  

  • would just constantly go to China instead. I  think those are some worrying signs. Locally  

  • to your earlier point, what happened in  Hong Kong did wake people up in Taiwan.  

  • They didn't see the threat of subversion. They  saw what might happen if they elected pro Beijing  

  • politicians or politicians who might be under  the influence of the Chinese Communist Party and  

  • could be coerced. And so they voted a different  way. And I think we're very lucky that they did  

  • because ensuring Taiwan survival as a democracyit's not only in the interest, of course,  

  • of the Taiwanese people, it's also in the interest  of the American people, that if we lose Taiwan,  

  • our entire strategic posture in Asia will  be devastated by that. It would be the worst  

  • thing to happen to the United States in terms  of geo-politics. It'd be a worst thing to happen  

  • since world war II. And so it's really,  I think fortunate for us that Taiwan is  

  • governed now by administration, which takes  the challenges that they have very seriously.

  • Well, so on that point. Many countries around the  world are changing their stands toward the CCP.  

  • And now there are even alliances like  the quad that are forming to counter  

  • the Chinese Communist PartyHow does Taiwan fit into that?

  • Well, unfortunately, Taiwan doesn't fit in because  our government policy in many ways is still  

  • mired in the past. That the way we treat  Taiwan is the same way that we've treated  

  • Taiwan since the late 1970s, when we  decided to close our embassy in Taipei  

  • and to de-recognize Taiwan's legitimate  government. And then to recognize the  

  • Chinese Communist Party government, the People's  Republic of China in Beijing. And since then,  

  • unfortunately, we've really treated Taiwan in many  ways like a pariah. In some ways we treat North  

  • Korea better than we treat Taiwan. And it's really  hypocritical because of course, Taiwan is this  

  • flourishing democracy. It's a very pro-American  country. I've traveled to a lot of places in  

  • Asia and I can tell you that the Taiwanese  people are about as pro-American as they come,  

  • and it really is a shame that so far, the  Trump administration has not done a fundamental  

  • re-look at our Taiwan policy. But having said  that, they have done a lot of good things.

  • There's been a significant improvement in the  amount of respect that Taiwan has given. There's  

  • been some high-level state department visits  to Taiwan and of course, arm sales to try to  

  • support Taiwan's ability to maintain a credible  self-defense. But I'm afraid it's really not  

  • enough. And if we continue to hold Taiwan at arms  length, Taiwan will just become weaker over time.  

  • There's a lot more that we could do. I meanwe could have shipped businesses to Taiwan.  

  • We could do joint military exercises with the  Taiwanese military to make sure that they're  

  • actually able to stand side-by-side with  our forces in the Pacific. And if needs be  

  • defend our common interests from the Chinese  attack. We could have a small number of U.S.  

  • troops or Marines stationed in Taiwan as  a strategic trip line to make sure that  

  • Beijing is clear about our intentions  if they invade. There's really a lot  

  • more that can be done. There's a lot of  opportunities for the future in that regard.

  • Why do you think those  things haven't happened yet?

  • Well, they haven't happened  because people are afraid.

  • Mm-hmm .

  • Any time there is an election in Taiwan, anytime  there's an arm sales notification to Taiwan,  

  • anytime there's a U.S. government visit to Taiwanor even a tweet about Taiwan, people are terrified  

  • that that is going to be the trigger  for a war because the Chinese Communist  

  • Party is constantly making these really radical  threats in that regard. And no one wants to be  

  • the decision maker, the leader that's responsible  for triggering a potential great power war. The  

  • problem with that type of reactive policy  is that if you're constantly reacting  

  • to what the Chinese Communist Party wants, then  you're not advancing towards what you want.

  • And what we should want, I think is to treat  a fellow democracy like a legitimate country,  

  • if it is, and Taiwan certainly is. And so then the  question becomes, well, if we're going to do that,  

  • how do we do that in an innovative wayHow do we do that in a creative way,  

  • such that we can maintain deterrence? We can make  sure that China doesn't actually come to a place  

  • where they can consider an invasion of Taiwanrealistic option or a favorable option for them.  

  • And we can do it in such a way where we don't  provide them a pretext for actually declaring war  

  • or just attacking out of the blue. I think  it's going to require a lot more thought.

  • So essentially the United States could do what  China always does and use short of war tactics.

  • Yeah. There's no question that  if the United States government  

  • got a group of strategists together from the  national security council, the state department,  

  • the Pentagon treasury, if they sat together  and they said, "How can we recognize Taiwan's  

  • government in the next five years?" Obviously  it's not something you want to do overnight,  

  • because again, that could actually provoke  the very thing you want to prevent,  

  • but how could we do in five yearsHow can we stair-step it? How can we  

  • take small, incremental, but consistent steps  into the future in such a way where five years  

  • from now we'll be in a much better place to  dramatically, and in terms of deterrence,  

  • because we know that strategic ambiguity, which  is our current policy, we know that doesn't work.

  • We would never do that with Japan, South Korea and  the Philippines. We would never do that with any  

  • other. And in fact, we don't do that. We have not  for the past seven years done that with any other  

  • democratic country that faces the type of  existential threat that Taiwan does. And so then  

  • the question becomes, "How can we do it in the  right way?" What are the creative solutions that  

  • might exist that no one's thought about beforebecause no one has asked the question before.

  • Do you have any sense how Joe Biden  administration might treat Taiwan?

  • I don't know. This is something that I know  a lot of people are very interested in,  

  • but of course we don't have evidence yet of what  a potential future administration might do because  

  • they're not empowered yet. And so we don't know  who is going to be his top advisors. There's  

  • some speculation out there, but we don't know for  sure who his foreign policy team is going to be.  

  • And until you know who the team is going  to be, it's really difficult to assess  

  • what their views are on any particular issueBut certainly whether it's president Biden come  

  • January 2021, or president Trump part two, this is  probably going to be the most important question  

  • that they're going to have to grapple with in  the coming four years. If they get it right,  

  • we'll be able to maintain peace in the regionIf they get it wrong, I think we're going into  

  • a very dangerous future. And so it's really  important that folks take it seriously

  • Well, thank you again for joining me and  it's always a pleasure to have you on.

  • Chris, it's my pleasure. Thanks so much.

  • Thank you

  • And Ian Easton also joined us on the China  Unscripted podcast this week to talk about the  

  • rise of the Chinese militaryand whether war with  the US is inevitable. I'll put the link below

  • Thanks for watching China Uncensored. Once  again I'm Chris Chappell, see you next time

China has been gearing up to invade Taiwan.

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China Taiwan Invasion: How Likely Is It Now?

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    zijun su posted on 2021/05/18
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