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The China-Taiwan Situation - Supporting Material

Updated: Apr 1

This page highlights supporting material to our article China is Preparing for War.

Updated on February 29, 2024

Crossing the Strait

This introductory chapter begins with a concise review of how the current

situation developed, including a review of the policy positions and the stakes for China, Taiwan, and the United States. It then reviews the impact of PLA modernization on the cross-strait military balance and on the PLA’s ability to execute the major military options available to Chinese leaders. The third section reviews the current debate on when the PLA might be able to conduct the most demanding option—an amphibious invasion of Taiwan— and what factors might influence the Chinese calculus about whether to pursue forced unification. The fourth section presents five key findings from the book, followed by brief summaries of the individual chapters. The conclusion considers the relative role of military and political factors in determining deterrence and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Military and Security Developments involving the PRC

The 2022 National Security Strategy states that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the only competitor to the United States with the intent and, increasingly, the capacity to reshape the international order. As a result, the 2022 National Defense Strategy identifies the PRC as the “pacing challenge” for the Department of Defense. As the PRC seeks to achieve “national rejuvenation” by its centenary in 2049, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders view a modern, capable, and “world class” military as essential to overcoming what Beijing sees as an increasingly turbulent international environment.

China is preparing for war - a timeline by hedge fund manager Kyle Bass at the Hudson Institute (July 2023): 

Surveying the Experts : China's Approach to Taiwan

How Deep Are China-Russia Military Ties?

BCA Research - Interview with Matt Turpin - Extract

60 minutes Australia - a roundtable:

China Economic Spying Units:

The CIA Factbook on China

PLA News Website

Transcript: World Stage: China with Matthew Pottinger - The Washington Post (March 2023): 

MR. POTTINGER: Yeah. I suspect that he is going to make this his legacy achievement. He is determined on his watch, I believe, to try to resolve, as you put it and as he puts it, the Taiwan question. I don't know what that means in terms of timing.
We've seen him take a number of steps that I haven't gotten a lot of attention yet, basically preparing the society for war, passing new laws that are designed to mobilize the society, build out the reserve capacity. He's building combat field hospitals across Fujian Province right now, right across from Beijing. He's building air raid shelters right now. It's reminiscent of the 1950s with the Korean War and then with the Sino-Soviet split, when he mobilized, Mao Zedong mobilized, the society to start digging tunnels and moving a lot of their manufacturing into the underbelly of mountains and things like that. This is happening right now.
[..] I guess I would say that the relationship is at the worst that it's been since the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989, and then there was a slow road back to rebuilding ties. And the United States made a big gamble in the 1990s and following through in the early 2000s that we would bring China into the world, really enrich China, train its experts, its new business leaders and technocrats, even military officers, scientists and open our markets up in order to raise, help raise the standard of living in China with the hope -- and it was an explicit hope of successive administrations in the United States -- that over time, China would evolve into something friendlier and more liberal, first, as a more liberal market system, and then hopefully even its political system would follow.

As Economy Falters, China Looks to Army for Answers

Amid this crisis, Beijing’s decision to double down on defense spending—combined with the party’s shift from a “peaceful rise” to its increasingly bellicose “wolf warrior” diplomacy—is a deliberate strategy. Backstopped by credible threats, Beijing is in the process of wresting from the rest of the world the resources, market access, technology, and capital that it needs. In other words, the CCP is positioning to coerce—or, if necessary, fight—its way to riches.

Deterrence in Taiwan Is Failing

China Ponders Russia's Logistical Challenges in the Ukraine War

What Drives Putin and Xi (Part Two)

A Conversation With Stephen Kotkin and Orville Schell

China's path to self-sufficiency in technology, energy and food

China's Agriculture and Strategic Food Reserves

China's Propaganda & Patriotism

Upgrading Air Bases and Rocket Forces

How Beijing Boxed America Out of the South China Sea- WSJ: 

Beijing is becoming the dominant force in the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes each year, a position it has advanced step-by-step over the past decade. With incremental moves that stay below the threshold of provoking conflict, China has gradually changed both the geography and the balance of power in the area.
The disputed sea is ringed by China, Taiwan and Southeast Asian nations, but Beijing claims nearly all of it. It has turned reefs into artificial islands, then into military bases, with missiles, radar systems and air strips that are a problem for the U.S. Navy. It has built a large coast guard that among other things harasses offshore oil-and-gas operations of Southeast Asian nations, and a fishing militia that swarms the rich fishing waters, lingering for days.

Water Cannons and Lasers: South China Sea Standoff Around World War II-Era Ship Heats Up - WSJ:

China has been quietly and illegally occupying islands in the South China Sea and has already built military bases and airports in at least 4 of them

Xi Age of Stagnation - Foreign Affairs: 

For anyone who has observed the country closely over the past few decades, it is difficult to miss the signs of a new national stasis, or what Chinese people call neijuan. Often translated as“involution,” it refers to life twisting inward without real progress.
The government has created its own universe of mobile phone apps and software, an impressive feat but one that is aimed at insulating Chinese people from the outside world rather than connecting them to it. Religious groups that once enjoyed relative autonomy—even those favored by the state—must now contend with onerous restrictions. Universities and research centers, including many with global ambitions, are increasingly cut off from their international counterparts. And China’s small but once flourishing communities of independent writers, thinkers, artists, and critics have been driven completely underground, much like their twentieth-century Soviet counterparts.
China’s leadership shuns debate and feels no compulsion to explain itself.

The Delusion of Detente and China's Political Imperative :

The CCP’s prime directive is to never let China be bullied or divided again—a goal, China’s leaders believe, that requires relentlessly amassing wealth and power, expanding territorial control, and ruling with an iron fist. As an economic late bloomer, China must use mercantilist methods to climb up global value chains long monopolized by the West.
With China surrounded by 19 countries, many of them hostile or unstable, the country’s leaders believe they must carve out a broad security perimeter that includes Taiwan, chunks of India, and most of the East China and South China Seas, where 90 percent of China’s trade and most of its oil flow.
Expansion is also a political imperative. The CCP justifies its autocratic rule in part by promising to recover territories lost during the century of humiliation. Demilitarizing those areas now would mean surrendering the CCP’s solemn mission to make China whole again and, consequently, diminishing its ability to use anti-foreign nationalism as a source of legitimacy.

Trade is shrinking between China and the US:

China is pivoting toward Southeast Asia as an export destination. While its exports to the U.S. fell 17% on the year for the first half of 2023, its shipments to ASEAN grew 2%, according to Chinese trade data. Some observers believe that Chinese exporters are increasingly routing products through the region for processing to sell on to the U.S. and elsewhere.

China exports by continent

The Battle of Lake Changjin (Korean war)

The no. 1 movie in China

I Will there be a NATO in Asia?

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