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Pentagon fears China-Taiwan Showdown

 
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Hallie



Joined: 09 Jun 2003
Posts: 3
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2003 9:11 pm    Post subject: Pentagon fears China-Taiwan Showdown Reply with quote

I just read in the newspaper about the Pentagon fearing a showdown between Taiwan and China in the near future because China doesn't want the U.S. in Taiwan and 'westernizing' it. The Pentagon also has intelligence that China is building it's missiles. Anybody read about this? What are your thoughts? I've heard from friends that have travelled to Taiwan in the past that every once in awhile China sends missiles over Taiwan just as a scare tactic. But this latest has me a little concerned since we will be leaving for Taiwan in about a month. Should I be concerned? What do you make of this?
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wix



Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Posts: 250
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reasons that China might declare war on Taiwan have nothing to do with "the U.S. in Taiwan and 'westernizing' it." Superficially at least Taiwan is quite Westernised and many parts of China are following a similar path of development and modernisation. And the US no longer has any troops stationed in Taiwan.

Quote:
The Pentagon also has intelligence that China is building it's missiles. Anybody read about this?


This is common knowledge. You can read it in any newspaper that covers the Taiwan-China issue.

Quote:
I've heard from friends that have travelled to Taiwan in the past that every once in awhile China sends missiles over Taiwan just as a scare tactic.


They are referring to what happened during the 1996 presidential election. China lobbed a few missiles into the sea of Taiwan in an attempt to show its displeasure about the Taiwanese conducting free and democratic elections. It didn't stop Taiwan from holding the election. There were further threats during the 2000 presidential election (although no missiles). That didn't stop the Taiwanese from electing a president who is supposedly pro-independence.

People have differing views about whether there will be a war or some serious conflict between Taiwan and China. Personally, I think that for the near future the status quo will be maintained and there is unlikely to be any serious problems except for exchanges of harsh words. Also the risk of earthquakes and typhoons in Taiwan is probably far greater than the risk of war. Did your friends tell you about that?
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Hallie



Joined: 09 Jun 2003
Posts: 3
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep - heard about the typhoons and earthquakes. Thanks.

Here's the newspaper quote:

"Beijing apparently believes that the United States poses a significant long-term challenge. China's leaders have asserted that the United States seek to maintain a dominant geostrategic position by containing the growth of Chinese power, ulitimately 'dividing' and 'Westernizing' China," the report said.
China has about 450 short-range ballistic missiles but is expected to increase its inventory by more than 75 missiles each year, defence officials reported. Last year, the Pentagon estimated that China's military had acquired 350 ballistic missiles and was adding at a rate of 50 a year."

That's just a small quote out of the article entitled, "Pentagon says China may be preparing for Taiwan attack"

Anyways, that's what I read and was just curious as to what others thought...I knew that there has been tension for many years between China and Taiwan.... but Wix, if you don't think it's a huge deal, then I guess we don't need to be concerned. Just saw it in the Toronto Star (newspaper) and wanted to hear others' thoughts on it and the Pentagon's recent comments.
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wix



Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Posts: 250
Location: Earth

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but Wix, if you don't think it's a huge deal, then I guess we don't need to be concerned.


Well, it's only my opinion and many others would disagree with it. An article entitled US warns of increasing China threat appeared in the Taipei Times yesterday. It appears similar to the one you are quoting.
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2003 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Pentagon was saying the same thing five years ago. I wouldn't be overly concerned about this "threat". Your number one safety concern in Taiwan, believe it or not, will be the traffic. When you get over there you will know exactly what I mean. Wink
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Okami



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 121
Location: Sunny Sanxia

PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2003 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a typical lover's spat. China is waiting for Taiwan to come to it peacefully via the PFP/KMT or when things get so bad in China that attacking Taiwan takes the focus off of homegrown problems in a similiar way to the Argentina/Falkland Islands.

China is actually working on keeping aircraft battle groups away. taking Taiwan would be incredibly easy, but fighting off 1 possibly 2 US aircraft battle groups is a whole other problem. Hence the purchase of Kilo submarines from Russia and the technology transfers. The Chinese communist party's first goal is survival. Losing a war with the US over Taiwan will not help the regime. Once you're here and study a bit of Chinese history and culture and work here you'll understand when I say that Chinese people are often their own worse enemy.

The missiles fired in 1996 didn't have warheads. Lee Tenghui in his infinite wisdom decided to tell the world what was suppose to be classified information provided by 2 Chinese generals to Taiwanese agents. The 2 Chinese generals were shot and an intelligence source was compromised.

The Pentagon likes to release these reports for a number of reasons. One, to let China know that despite all that "were all about peace" crap they spew. We know that they would be gobbling up countries on their borders left right and center if it weren't for US and Russian military power. Don't believe me? Take a look in Kashmir and Tibet and ask the Vietnamese what they think. Two, to get the Taiwanese to stop being so damn complacent. They can't keep their humvees running for christsakes and have a nasty habit of crashing planes. With an army of conscripts, nobody expects a lot from them. Normally no matter what you went to school for, they just make you a soldier. If you're well off and connected, they let you be a driver for the numerous generals in the Taiwanese army even if you don't have a license and can't drive a car. I really wish I was making this up, but I'm not. Read about the Nationalist army and it's battle spirit(I had to take 10 minutes to recover from laughing from writing that) in WW2. The only benfit is the majority of the Chinese army is in similiar shape, but have capable political commissars to keep things together.

Traffic is fun. It takes some getting use to. Rent a scooter and try it out for a month and you'll get the swing of things. In Taipei, they stop at stoplights most of the time, outside of Taipei it's an option but doesn't seem to be mandatory.

CYA
Okami
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Chairman Roberto



Joined: 04 Mar 2003
Posts: 150
Location: Taibei, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2003 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a related sidenote--

The People's Daily "forgot" to mention this news item on our side of the pond. In listening class, the language lab has screens that are hooked up to my computer screen at the front of the class. The computer has a pretty good DSL connection, so I usually tool around the web for listening exercises. Soooo....during listening class (this is summer school for rural teachers), I went to Yahoo, and my finger slipped on the mouse...whoops! I "accidently" opened up the news item about China pointing them thar rockets at Taiwan. I even went into a lengthy explanation over the new vocabulary word "missile." I wish I had a camera for all the shocked looks..

During the break, I walked out the door, and everyone ran to my desk to look at more forbidden fruit on Yahoo News.

Crazy laowai! Oh well, I might get fired, but probably not....not when there's, oh, five million other job vacancies....heh heh Twisted Evil

The Original Love Missile,
Roberto
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jason_seeburn



Joined: 26 Apr 2003
Posts: 399
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 10:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Pentagon fears China-Taiwan Showdown Reply with quote

[][][]

Last edited by jason_seeburn on Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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7969



Joined: 26 Mar 2003
Posts: 5681
Location: South China, by the sea.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 1:00 pm    Post subject: Okami.... Reply with quote

you may know a lot about teaching but your quote as copied below....


"taking Taiwan would be incredibly easy, but fighting off 1 possibly 2 US aircraft battle groups is a whole other problem. Hence the purchase of Kilo submarines from Russia and the technology transfers."

leaves much to be said. if you knew the current state of the PLA, both organization and their inventory, you would take reconsider that taking taiwan would be incredibly easy. " the taiwanese military possesses superior equipment in almost all categories when compared with china, but is outnumbered. china doesn't possess, nor will they for some years (maybe decades) to come, the ability to land enough troops on taiwan to take the island.....

well, it would be easier if you read david shambaughs latest book on the chinese military. it may be big and modernizing, but it may well get the same from taiwan that it got from vietnam in the late 70s..... a bloody nose. further, the world is no longer willing to sit back and let invasions such as one that china might like to launch against taiwan happen without repercussions, serious ones. america has pledged to do whatever it takes to help taiwan defend itself, as stated in the taiwan relations act.

a complicated issue at the very least.
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Okami



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 121
Location: Sunny Sanxia

PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear 7969,

Before you say that I don't know what I'm talking about. Please use a little more evidence, facts and figures. Otherwise you'll come across as a troll, which I don't think to be the case.

As bad as the PLA army is, the ROC army is just as bad and numerically inferior. Estimates are that there are up to 6,000 members of the PLA special forces working throughout Taiwan. The strategy is simple.

1. Use missiles and air superiority to disable/destroy AA missile batteries and fighter aircraft. Most aircraft are in sheet metal hangars, instead of the concrete ones recommended by the US military.

2. Use special forces in country to capture Taichung airport to move in more special forces by air and capture the harbor. Use navy to bombard Taipei, but leave Xinchu intact. Set generous surrender terms and use a divide and conquer strategy with the armed forces and political groups. This scenario is the one deemed the most likely to succeed and the simplest. Taizhong is straight across from Xiamen.

3. Use every available ship to move as many tanks, big guns, supplies and men into Taiwan as quickly as possible. China is only 10-15 years behind Japan/South Korea in ship building technology and rapidly catching up.

4. Use fuel-air explosive bombs to good effect on any mass concentrations of troops(US military tactic). The ROC army is ridiculously heavy with generals and infantry. I could easily see a situation where "too many cooks ruin the stew."

PLA may not have its entire act together yet, but they're getting there. With the judicious use of propaganda(already in effect) and political commisars, they'll whip their troops into a frenzy and set them loose on a bunch of consripts. Most of the troops needed would come from the special forces, with normal units following up to hold on to gains made or act as reserve.

The US would probably do something, but I think Europe would just engage in in yet more navel gazing as they have neither the troops nor the capability to intervene.

Awaiting your rebuttal,
Okami
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7969



Joined: 26 Mar 2003
Posts: 5681
Location: South China, by the sea.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 1:33 pm    Post subject: okami.... your rebuttal.... Reply with quote

"1. Use missiles and air superiority to disable/destroy AA missile batteries and fighter aircraft. Most aircraft are in sheet metal hangars, instead of the concrete ones recommended by the US military. "

prc has about a 6:1 advantage in fighter aircraft. numerical superiority to the prc, however out of some 2700 fighter aircraft, over 2100 of them are clones of the MiG 19/21, 1960s vintage. operational numbers are most certainly much lower. of taiwan's 444 fighters, 146 are f-16s and another 60 are french mirage 2000. quality is far more important than quantity. missile advantage to prc. taiwan's air forces are quite capable of inflicting heavy damage on chinese industrial areas within range of their fighters.

"3. Use every available ship to move as many tanks, big guns, supplies and men into Taiwan as quickly as possible. China is only 10-15 years behind Japan/South Korea in ship building technology and rapidly catching up."

conventional wisdom states that a numerical advantage of at least 5:1 is necessary for a successful amphibious assault. prc would have to launch an assault of some 1.25 million troops (and associated equipment to be successful in this attack. far beyond their current capability of moving perhaps one division and 300 tanks simultaneously. if beijings goal is physical occupation of the island through force, that is out of the quesiton.

"4. Use fuel-air explosive bombs to good effect on any mass concentrations of troops(US military tactic). The ROC army is ridiculously heavy with generals and infantry. I could easily see a situation where "too many cooks ruin the stew."

prc military is in a constant state of "reorganization." that is code for every time they reorganize and amalgamate/break up formations they have failed and have many organizational problems. also very top heavy with officers and reserves at a low state of readiness. exploding fuel air bombs.... not sure that taiwan will deploy their troops in rank and file fashion a la waterloo.

you are right in that the pla is getting its act together, but it is a long and slow process. look for the technology gap between the us and prc to get bigger every day, not smaller.... taiwan's advantage. they don't readily admit it, but the pla was awed by the american performance in gulf war I and don't relish facing them. their propaganda sections will tell you different. they know that any showdown with taiwan (through other than peaceful means) means dealing with us forces as well (via the taiwan relations act of 1979, although the shape of that response is a bit of an ambiguous wild card at the moment. in the end, taiwan's best defence is the fact that it's an island and will not be easy to take.

for a good source, read "modernizing china's military" by david shambaugh, china expert. should tell you also, that i used to work for a western military in the "information" department. I regularly saw information covering this very subject and remain well-informed. i can't write any more right now... no time. take care.
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Okami



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 121
Location: Sunny Sanxia

PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2003 4:13 pm    Post subject: Jolly good show, old man!! Reply with quote

Finally a bit of logic and reason to an argument with good points included.

#1
Taiwan's fighter jets have 8 minutes to scramble when missiles are launched at them(movable targets) or their airfield(fixed GPS locatable targets). This isn't a lot of time and I think that keeping Taiwan's air force on the ground through triangulation of the airfields location and targeting of missiles on it would seriously hamper any technological superiority.

#3
China is becoming a very competitive player in shipbuilding and is taking a page out of the Japan/ South Korea book and heavily subsidizing it. They know how many ships they will need and how many they will lose. When you have 1.2 billion people, it's just a number's game.

China doesn't have to physically occupy the island, just get the political party in charge to agree to its terms. There is a difference. If they caused enough damage and threaten to target Xinchu(It produces 20% of Taiwan's GDP) the Taiwanese gov't in charge would roll over like a bitch in heat. Physical occupation can come after political reconciliation on China's terms.

#4
Fuel air bombs are good for breaking up masses of troops that defend or plan to counter attack an area. The idea is to use PLA special forces(regular well equipped, hardened troops) against conscripts(not exactly the most reliable troops with often dodgy equipment) as I outlined in #2 which you failed to respond to.

I agree:
The Gulf War 1 and especially 2 scared the shit out of the Chinese and North Koreans. The US military is so advanced that not even Europe(NATO) can keep up with it.

Like I stated before, 1-2 aircraft carrier groups not the Taiwanese military are what cause fear and trepidation in the Chinese gov't and PLA. Taiwanese military problems are well documented by the US military. There is a lack of political will to rectify the deficincies, hence the Taiwanese military is something of a paper tiger. Islands can be just as easy to take as a mountain, it requires political will and the troops to do it. China has both. China can't however deal with American military might till it displaces US manufacturing capability. The Swiss company that makes JDRAM(sp?) that fit onto bombc and make them GPS attack capability, decided not to sell any of them during Gulf War 2. A point not lost on the Pentagon, I'm assured. This is what China wants to undermine more and more as time goes by. A fickle emotional Europe represents a greater danger to the world than China ever will. China(Chinese general actually) has actually written a paper covering this very same thing

CYA
Okami

PS I've read a lot of books on China. Most are spectacularly deficient in one area or another as if the problem they speak of lives in a petri dish or a bell jar. They often contain good points, similiar to searching for a needle in a haystack. I'll look up the book when I have time however as I would not want to be disrespectful.
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7969



Joined: 26 Mar 2003
Posts: 5681
Location: South China, by the sea.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2003 6:20 am    Post subject: some more points.... Reply with quote

first off, i can't respond to every point you've made previously as i just don't have the time to craft a response, and/or i don't have time to surf this site often (usually both).

"#1
Taiwan's fighter jets have 8 minutes to scramble when missiles are launched at them(movable targets) or their airfield(fixed GPS locatable targets)."


any potential attack by the mainland will not be a surprise to anyone. troop movements are closely watched and anything out of the ordinary will result in a heightened state of alert in the usa and in east asia as a whole. taiwan's fighters may have eight minutes to launch, given that all components of the enemy strategy goes according to plan.... highly unlikely. military forces are subject to murphys law. i have firsthand experience.

#3
China is becoming a very competitive player in shipbuilding and is taking a page out of the Japan/ South Korea book and heavily subsidizing it.


what kind of ships are they building? amphibious landing craft or oil tankers? the taiwan strait is not deep and is not a big military operating area.


China doesn't have to physically occupy the island, just get the political party in charge to agree to its terms. There is a difference. If they caused enough damage and threaten to target Xinchu(It produces 20% of Taiwan's GDP) the Taiwanese gov't in charge would roll over like a *beep* in heat. Physical occupation can come after political reconciliation on China's terms.

this is another wild card in the whole situation. from what i see here in taiwan, there are people and groups who may welcome reunification and many who would oppose it at all cost. the use of chinese propaganda (threats) is one thing, but will they back it up with force and can/will taiwan call their bluff? intervention by the us and others is always looming.


#4
Fuel air bombs are good for breaking up masses of troops that defend or plan to counter attack an area. The idea is to use PLA special forces(regular well equipped, hardened troops) against conscripts(not exactly the most reliable troops with often dodgy equipment)


haven't heard of this strategy before (use of fuel air bombs). are you referring to napalm? further, china is developing some sort of rapid reaction capability (special forces) but i'm not aware of any "hardened" troops in the pla. do you mean troops tested under combat conditions? if so, i'm not aware that china has any. vietnam was awhile back. i agree that the conscript troops in taiwan may not be the elite, but you make do with what you have. conscripts involved in defence of their homeland have proven to be good in the past.

it's been acknowldeged that taiwan may have to defend itself for up to two weeks until the us can mobilize enough forces to reinforce them (even if only logistically), however, even with a modest us naval battle group in the area, china would suffer enormous damage. establishing initial air superiority and knocking out key C3 installations is the road to victory. in the event of a china-taiwan conflict, with us assistance, this is quite plausible. i do agree, that the missiles remain a major problem. further, the days of masses of troops and armour are long gone. at any rate, i don't see any conflict occurring. china cannot afford the political fallout that will result from any kind of aggression against taiwan. ultimately, the whole situation is very complex and there are too many variables involved to make an accurate prediction of what might happen if someone did this or that....

fortunately, i think the new leadership in china will come to a more realistic understanding of taiwans' existence, once they rid themselves of the influence of old has-beens that have recently departed.

as for the book by shambaugh, i don't see it as deficient in any way. it focuses on the modernization of the chinese military and nothing more. it's pretty comprehensive and is backed up by many good sources.

warmest regards from taiwan.
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naturegirl321



Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 8996
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2003 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haven't they been talking about this for the past couple of decades?
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