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Will China go in for a military takeover of Taiwan?

Chinese President Xi Jinping

China has in a White Paper released on Wednesday withdrawn a promise to not send troops to Taiwan if it takes control of the island, signalling a decision by President Xi Jinping to grant less autonomy to the island than offered in the earlier White Papers presented in 1993 and 2000.

The million dollar question that many security experts are grappling with is whether the white paper on “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era” is part of the political and diplomatic posturing by the Xi Jinping regime or will Beijing actually invade Taiwan in the near future.

According to a Hindustan Times report based on the views of national security experts, the prohibitive economic fallout that would result is a sufficient deterrent for China not to go in for a military takeover of Taiwan.

The question does not have simple answers but the cost benefit analysis by top national security experts reveals that taking over Taiwan by China by use of military force is easier said than done.

“With US President Joe Biden on May 22, 2022, stating that it was American commitment to militarily defend Taiwan against Chinese attack, it is reasonable to presume that the chances of an all-out war are very high if President Xi decides to take overTaipei through force. While it is certain that Taiwan will be devastated in the fight against China, the eastern coast of China, which heavily contributes to Beijing’s economic might, will also be hit hard by Taiwanese Yu Feng and Hsiung Feng II E land attack cruise missiles,” according to the Hindustan Times article authored by senior journalist Shishir Gupta.

The article argues that China would be set back by 10 years if its manufacturing hubs located in the coastal cities get bombarded by missiles fired by Taiwan in retaliation. 

Any move by China to capture Taiwan will lead to economic retaliation from US and its allies with even pacifist Japan having no other options but to shed its peace doctrine. The Chinese investment into US government securities will be frozen by Washington with western countries likely to recognize Taiwan by junking the “One China” policy. This will be preceded by Capitol Hill passing the Taiwan Defence Act 2021, the purpose of which is to maintain the ability of the US Armed Forces to deny a fait accompli by the People’s Republic of China against Taiwan. The bill was introduced in US Senate on June 16, 2021 and has been referred to the Committee on Armed Services, the article states.

The Chinese military action against Taiwan will not only push Japan into military emergency but also will invite the mighty US Navy into the theatre with ASEAN countries forced to take sides when the red flag goes up.

China's white paper on self-ruled Taiwan follows days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises near the island in protest against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit last week.

The PLA has now concluded the war game simulating the capture of Taiwan but has promised to keep the entire Island under watch through frequent combat air and naval patrols in the Taiwan Straits separating the island from the mainland.

But the issue is can China afford to get hit for a minuscule island merely to satisfy the ego of the eternal leader? The article concludes.