Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rising (French?) Tide 

The blogosphere is buzzing again about the eminent showdown between China and Taiwan (Link to a concise understanding of the current conflict here , The text of the anti-secession law is here). Winds of Change has perhaps the best posting so far, examining far reaching consequences and causes, as well as the geopolitical factors leading to the current Chinese arms buildup. Two facts come out glaringly from the information present: (1) the level of Chinese Naval buildup is astounding:
"...the Chinese are currently embarked on a major shipbuilding program for their navy, a massive buildup where they are currently deploying seven new major ship classes at one time, building up to two of these new ships in each class per year. These include two more Project 956 Sovremennyy-class guided-missile destroyers (DDGs), the Type 52B DDG, the Type 52C Aegis-like DDG, the Type 54 guided-missile frigate, the brand new Yuan-class diesel attack sub (to augment the advanced Kilo-class (Project 636) they purchased from the Russians), the Project 093 nuclear attack sub, and the Type 094 nuclear missile sub."

7 New major ship classes!?! The sheer volume is astounding.
(2) The numbers seem to favor Chinese air superiority in the strait, in the vent of a conflict (From edefense):
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is huge. The PLA Ground Force has 1.9 million men, 14,000 tanks, 14,500 artillery pieces, and 450 helicopters. The PLA Air Force has 470,000 airmen, 2,550 jet fighters, and 400 ground-attack jets. The PLA Navy has 250,000 sailors, more than 70 submarines of all ages and conditions, including the Han nuclear attack and Xia ballistic missile boats; 20 destroyers; 35 frigates; and numerous other craft.

Assuming that Japan would side with Taiwan, and counting the available US fighters in the area, the balance still tips easily to the Chinese. Were they able to gain air superiority for even a small window of time, the consequences would prove disastrous. The presence of the new Chinese submarine, reportedly capable of staying submerged for days without snorkeling, also seems troublesome, but has been downplayed by US officials. The popular consensus seems to be that the war is inevitable, and estimates vary widely depending on the '08 Olympics as a factor, although Chinese officials have often placed it in the 2006 time frame.
In terms of US involvement, we have never stated overt intentions, although officials have repeatedly warned of intervention should an attack come from the mainland. Taiwan estimates 2 weeks of survival without intervention, China says 6 days. The hope, at least for China, would be to move quickly, as they would be no match for US carrier groups were the United States given time to respond.
The real story of the Day, and the prompting for this rather lengthy post, is the surprising developments involving France(via InstaPundit) Leaving aside for now the obvious snide remarks about pre-emptive warfare and etc., one has to wonder what exactly the French are thinking. Throwing support behind the anti-secession law seems a risky move, even taken in the context of the $600 million airbus deal. Instinct leads me to believe that defensive realism is at play here, as France tries anything possible to balance the EU against the US. Despite dreams to such ends, the only visible outcome of repealing the embargo would be... the invasion of Taiwan. Only this time, it would come with French Weapons

It's frightening stuff. Does the United States really have the fortitude to defend Taiwan when the gauntlet falls? I have to wonder if we have the stomach for it, especially after already being entrenched in Iraq, and with the record lows in military recruitment...It makes me wonder.

Reading about the build up of the Chinese military reminds me of when I was kid playing RISK, the board game. Remember how there was always some guy over in some place on the board not causing much trouble. Not enough to get invovled with him too much anyway. Then, you suddenly realize he has amassed a huge force, and now it becomes too risky to do anything about him. So, you continue to leave him alone. Before you know it, he's defeating everyone across the board just by sheer numbers.

Never worry about Americans once the shooting starts. You need to be concerned PRIOR to the "balloon going up."

If the Chinese attack, in a surge of martial passion we will enter.

Taiwan is an island, and that means the Chinese HAVE to dominate the AIR and SEA surrounding.

The Chinese bank on slight Taiwanese resistance, that too is a huge mistake. The Taiwanese will be fighting for that which is most dear to man, his family and his freedom. What will motivate the attackers, commie propoganda.

I am worried about getting maneuvered into a position whereby we allow the Taiwanese to be swallowed up, and all the while stand by.

THAT is a danger.
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