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Taiwan invasion could trigger protracted war: Brookings fellow

Researcher believes fight for Taiwan would not deliver quick, final victory for anyone

PLA 73rd Group Army carrying out amphibious assault exercise. (Weibo photo)

PLA 73rd Group Army carrying out amphibious assault exercise. (Weibo photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An invasion of Taiwan by China may trigger a protracted war that could last years, according to one research fellow at Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Brookings Institute.

Rather than consider a fight for Taiwan’s survival as a war in its own right, it would be more accurate to think of it as “the first battle in a protracted struggle,” Michael O’Hanlon writes in an opinion piece that appeared in The Hill on Monday (Jan. 17).

O’Hanlon compares the current situation between Taiwan, China, and the U.S. with wars of the past. He argues neither Beijing nor Washington are in a position to force the other into total surrender and regime change, which is how Germany and Japan were defeated and World War II concluded.

“Neither has, or likely will achieve, the credible capability to attain all-out victory against the other, in light of the nuclear arsenals available to each side,” he writes.

Were China to attempt to take Taiwan by force and fail, O’Hanlon posits, the former would not simply abandon its mission. Instead, it would try other means, be they military or economic, to annex Taiwan, leading to a prolonged conflict.

Conversely, were China to attack and win a fight against Taiwanese and U.S.-led forces, an embittered U.S. and its allies would be certain to try to open another battlefront against China at a later stage, further endangering world peace. O’Hanlon concludes by emphasizing the importance of deterring Beijing but also calling out those in the Washington policy establishment who believe a quick victory over the People's Liberation Army is possible.