China is frequently doubling the amount of money it spends annually on its military but as of yet it’s not battle tested. It seems that China is wanting to change that and they’re looking to reclaim someone they still claim; Taiwan. Just a few years ago Taiwan dominated militarily especially in the Taiwan strait but with China unveiling an aircraft carrier and re-positioning troops just across the way from Taiwan the situation seems grim. The problem with China wanting to take over Taiwan is that the United States is bound by The Taiwan Relations Act to provide for Taiwan’s defense.
The United States is in the midst of preparing an arms package for Taiwan that will include new Black hawk helicopters and an upgrade to its rapidly aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets. In total the deal is worth $5.3 billion and China hasn’t been happy with it since the day it was announced. Chinese efforts and temper tantrums have successfully prevented the U.S. from selling Taiwan new F-16s which Taiwan has been pleading for since the Bush administration. No administration to date has wanted to rock the boat with China but this deal has certainly done that.
Experts are now predicting that any future conflict between Taiwan and China will only last a few weeks and they would have to seek the help of foreign nations, the United States, to prevent a total defeat. China will soon have the ability to project quite a bit of power in the Taiwan straight with its refurbished aircraft carrier which could raise tensions to the point of no return. The Taiwanese navy is laughable compared to the 21st century Chinese navy. For example China operates over 20 submarines with some being nuclear powered whereas Taiwan operates 4 with 2 from WWII. China has also developed long range anti aircraft carrier missiles which could hamper any immediate U.S. response.
The United States has taken notice however and they have been making routine shows of force off the coast of China with partner nations such as South Korea and making friends with Vietnam. More recently however the United States is in talks with Australia to expand its military presence to directly counter China.
The arrangement, somewhat controversial in Australia, is expected to be a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s visit to the country in November.
While the United States denied wanting to build bases on Australian soil they did admit to wanting to increase their “posture” in the region. The United States and many other nations have been alarmed by China’s claims of waters that are seen by everyone but China as international waters. Both nations said that they would also focus on cyber security which has become the become incredibly important recently and China is behind most of the attacks in the world let alone the United States. The United States also recently announced that cyber attacks by a nation that disable infrastructure or steal military secrets would see retaliation dealt out by conventional military force meaning it is an act of war.
With all of these facts in place China still insists upon pushing further and I strongly believe that a conflict will arise soon. China won’t directly engage the United States but I do think that they’re crafty enough to pull the U.S. into a possibly long conflict by engaging a U.S. friendly nation such as Taiwan or Japan. Both of those nations have seen tensions rise dramatically with the increase in China’s military might and both look to the U.S. for defense. Would China drag the U.S. into another long conflict like Iraq? Sure. Kicking us while we are down would see them likely rise to the number one economy in the world well ahead of schedule while at the same time vetting their military. I also strongly believe that this is why President Obama was strengthening ties with India which is so far the only nation who China seems to be afraid of. Once China’s “scientific” only carrier is operational it will be only a matter of time before China looks to dominate Taiwan.
**Pre Publish Update** In response to the U.S. decision to sell Taiwan upgrades for its fleet of F-16 fighter jets, China has halted all military and security cooperation with the United States. Source: Reuters