A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would likely be doomed if the United States defended the island, an American think tank said Monday, but insisted on the devastating costs it would incur for American forces.
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Military experts, compiled for a war simulation by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, pointed out that any party directly involved in such a conflict (the United States, China, Taiwan and Japan) would suffer “huge” casualties.
“We came to two conclusions,” said Eric Heginbotham, a security researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“First, in most cases, China has little chance of succeeding and achieving its operational goals or occupying Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
“Second, the cost of a war would be high for everyone involved, and certainly for the United States. »
The simulation tested 24 different scenarios, each involving attempts by China to take over Taiwan by force by 2026.
The level of US involvement would be crucial: without American help to defend Taiwan, the island would be captured by the Chinese army in three months or less.
The simulation assumed that the invasion would begin with a Chinese bombardment that would wipe out most of Taiwan’s naval and air forces within hours.
The Chinese navy would surround Taiwan and send a landing contingent of thousands of troops across the Taiwan Strait.
According to the scenario described by the experts involved in the simulation as the most likely scenario, the Taiwanese army would force the invaders to establish themselves along the coast.
“Chinese attacks on Japanese bases and American surface ships do not change the situation: Taiwan remains autonomous,” describes the scenario.
For Matthew Cancian of the Naval War College, a research institute of the United States Navy, crucial variables would determine the degree of success of an invasion: the degree of Taiwan’s determination to repel an invasion, but also whether or not Japan was permitted to the United States to to launch counterattacks from their bases in Japanese territory.
Without it, “American intervention would not be sufficient to preserve Taiwan’s autonomy,” Mr. Cancian said.
The simulation also raised some unknowns, including whether the United States would risk a nuclear conflict by attacking China directly.