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  • (dramatic music)

  • - [Johnny] In the summer of 1995, China sent a bunch

  • of its troops to the province of Fujian.

  • They then started testing missiles and putting it on TV.

  • They then started running highly publicized combat

  • exercises, very similar to what it would look like

  • to cross this 130 kilometer wide straight

  • to invade the island of Taiwan.

  • A place that China doesn't think is a real country

  • but rather a part of China itself

  • a rebellious island province in an unfinished civil war.

  • - Another round of Chinese war games

  • near Taiwan has the us and other concerned.

  • - [Johnny] China did all this saber rattling

  • because Taiwan's president had asked

  • for a visa to visit the United States

  • and the US Congress voted to give it to him

  • defined Beijing and undermining China's claim to Taiwan.

  • Oh, and Taiwan was holding their first democratic election.

  • - [Reporter] These are the first free elections

  • of a Chinese leader in 5,000.

  • - [Reporter] China announced Friday

  • that it would start the new military exercises

  • less than a week before Taiwan's presidential election.

  • - [Narrator] China hated that all of this was happening

  • on this island that they think is theirs.

  • Hence all of the military flexing,

  • but look who shows up next.

  • - Diplomatic trouble may be brewing again

  • between China and the United States.

  • (dramatic music)

  • - It's the US military.

  • And they're sending their biggest show

  • of military force in Asia

  • since the Vietnam war right here in China's neighborhood.

  • President Bill Clinton sent in all of the US's best stuff.

  • Aircraft carriers, guided missile cruisers, destroyers,

  • powerful weapon systems

  • from the most powerful military on earth.

  • So all of this concentrated US military power

  • comes into the region

  • and enters right here through the straight of Taiwan.

  • It was a response to China

  • and all of its efforts to intimidate Taiwan.

  • The message was very clear.

  • "China, we are way more powerful than you.

  • So back off and let Taiwan do its thing."

  • And guess what?

  • It totally worked.

  • China backed down and the US reasserted itself

  • as the global powerhouse, a power that no one can mess with.

  • Okay. So now let's fast forward to last fall.

  • A lot has changed in this 20 or so years

  • and China is at it again, flexing on Taiwan.

  • Their favorite way of doing this lately

  • is flying military aircraft into this air border

  • Taiwan's air defense identification zone or ADIZ,

  • and ADIZ is airspace that if you enter

  • you should identify yourself

  • or else the nearby country will assume

  • that you're coming to attack them.

  • China has started flying military aircraft

  • over this airspace

  • without asking permission, without identifying themselves.

  • Not just like once or twice

  • but like dozens of times per day, hundreds of times a month

  • these are the actual recorded flight paths

  • of Chinese aircraft flying over Taiwan's ADIZ.

  • And then back to China, it's a giant F.U.

  • to Taiwan or rather remember whose boss here.

  • Luckily there's some really amazing data

  • on every single one of these Chinese flyovers.

  • They're all documented.

  • - [Reporter] Taiwan's air force scrambled again today.

  • - This is research

  • from the Foreign Policy Research Institute

  • and it's incredibly useful to see China's activity

  • in Taiwan's ADIZ.

  • You can see this massive surge late last year in flyovers.

  • This is a graph that shows every single time

  • a Chinese jet has flown over Taiwan's ADIZ in 2021.

  • You can see that it comes

  • to a peak in the first week of October.

  • This was the week that China was celebrating its founding

  • and they were sending a very clear message to Taiwan.

  • You will be ours.

  • That week, this Chinese state owned publication comes out

  • with this headline: Time to warn Taiwan secessionists

  • and their fomenters: war is real.

  • This is not fair play.

  • So guess who shows up to the region to calm things down?

  • - A US war shit has sailed through the Taiwan Straight.

  • (upbeat electronic music)

  • - So right after this huge bulk of flyovers

  • of Taiwan's aides, the US sends in guided missile destroyers

  • through the Taiwan Straight.

  • And there are accompanied by a Canadian show.

  • - One of 25 Chinese aircraft that entered its defense zone.

  • - Oh, but this time it didn't work.

  • Here's when the US sailed through the Straight.

  • And here's what China does after.

  • Tons more flyovers of Taiwan's ADIZ.

  • Looking at the raw data,

  • you can see that these flyovers start happening

  • almost every day.

  • (upbeat synth music)

  • It's not the 90s anymore.

  • Things have changed.

  • Bill Clinton can't just send a bunch of Naval ships

  • to the Taiwan Straight and expect China to back down.

  • We're living in a different era.

  • The biggest difference is that

  • China's military has become way more powerful

  • in the last 20 years.

  • Add to that, that there's zeal

  • for taking over Taiwan to reunite it with mainland China

  • has grown immensely every year since.

  • The reason I'm telling you this story

  • and showing you the difference between how China reacted

  • in the 90s and how it reacted last fall

  • is because that difference is really important

  • if we want to think about

  • what war looks like in this region.

  • I've been talking to military experts.

  • I've been diving deep into military reports

  • and writings from the Chinese military itself

  • to try to understand what war with Taiwan would look like.

  • It's something that is becoming more likely year by year.

  • So what's to follow is my best attempt

  • at understanding what war in the Taiwan Straight looks like

  • a war that drags in the United States and its allies.

  • War is impossible to predict, and so we don't know for sure

  • but what I hope we can do here is look at a scenario

  • and learn how conflict works and what calculations

  • all the countries involved would have to make

  • in what might become the next world war.

  • - I just wanna make China understand

  • that we are not gonna step back.

  • - China's aggression against Taiwan is accelerating

  • and it's blaming the US.

  • - [Reporter] Beijing has been getting

  • increasingly tough on Taiwan.

  • - [Reporter] So you are saying

  • that the United States would come to Taiwan's defense?

  • (dramatic music)

  • - Yes. And yes.

  • - Hey, before we dive into this

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  • And now let's dive into the scenario

  • about potential war between Taiwan and China.

  • (cheeky music)

  • Okay, I'm gonna dive into a very specific scenario

  • of how conflict could escalate in the Taiwan Straight.

  • But first I have to say something.

  • I have to get this off my chest

  • which is I've felt a little bit conflicted

  • making this video.

  • I feel very against the sort of machismo fascination

  • with conflict, like it's some sort of cool, good thing.

  • When at the end of the day

  • what we're talking about are people's lives.

  • We are talking about valuable taxpayer money.

  • We are talking about the future

  • of entire societies being ripped apart by a power struggle.

  • This is not sexy and cool.

  • This is a nightmare.

  • Secondly, let us all just acknowledge right now

  • how easy it is to dehumanize China

  • and its leaders and its military.

  • But let me just remind you that China doesn't want war.

  • They don't want bloodshed.

  • They will probably try much less violent ways

  • to try to force Taiwan to the negotiating table

  • before resorting to all out invasion.

  • But the reason I want to make a video

  • about the nightmare scenario, because even

  • if a military has a goal

  • for a less violent intervention, that's not how war works.

  • Conflict is very messy and one miscalculation can lead

  • to an escalation in the conflict.

  • And now you have a wildfire that is

  • out of control on both sides.

  • It's incredibly easy for the momentum

  • of conflict to bring us into that kind of situation.

  • And that's why I wanna suss out what it could look like.

  • Okay. Those are my of disclaimers.

  • Let's dive into this.

  • (dramatic music)

  • I'm gonna start rolling here.

  • I'm two.

  • Okay. I'm gonna clap here comes.

  • Okay, I need to bring you over

  • to my desk to show you some documents I've been staring at.

  • Any invasion of Taiwan starts with this document.

  • This is a Chinese law meant to stop any parts of China

  • from succeeding from China itself.

  • And it mentions Taiwan.

  • It basically says that if Taiwan tries to assert

  • its independence from China or, and this is the most

  • important part, or if the possibilities

  • for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted

  • that China shall employ non peaceful means

  • and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty

  • and territorial integrity.

  • Translation, if they run out of diplomatic solutions,

  • China is required by law to invade Taiwan

  • and force it to reunite with China

  • and know I don't read or speak Mandarin

  • but Google translate, come on.

  • Listen, we're like 70 years into peaceful solutions

  • being tried and not working.

  • Meanwhile, on the island of Taiwan support for any sort

  • of reunification is at an all time low.

  • Like it's not looking like peaceful reunification

  • is gonna happen,

  • which is making the interpretation of this law

  • more and more on the side of China should do this forcibly.

  • Okay, so that's the legal justification

  • from a Chinese perspective,