In Monday’s Wall Street Journal Letters section, a letter-writer pooh-poohed the idea that the People’s Republic of China might actually invade the Republic of China and reclaim the island of Taiwan.

A decision by Beijing to invade Taiwan would create a major geopolitical crisis for China. Its extensive global trade and investments would be disrupted, creating economic problems. An invasion would result in an occupation. The people of Taiwan have lived in freedom and under the rule of law—they are not about to put on Chinese handcuffs and live in a communist society.

Houlihan made an all-too-common mistake that political and military analysts make in assessing an enemy nation’s motives and goals. Here, he assumed that the PRC cares about costs of regaining and reoccupying the island of Taiwan, just because we would have those concerns. In the end, if the PRC succeeds, it will have destroyed the Republic of China (without the US’ and others’ support, the “people of Taiwan” won’t be capable of resisting PRC handcuffs for any length of time) and regained the island.

And humiliated us, driving us from the western Pacific, opening up the Republic of Korea and Japan—hated enemies—to tacit, if not explicit, control, and putting Southeast Asia, which it has failed repeatedly in invading, under its thumb.

And gained control of the South China Sea shipping lanes, further strangling the RoK and Japan, and inflicting sufficient economic damage on us as to be able to control, in large part, our behavior.

Those may well be goals, in PRC eyes, worth spending a bit of political and economic capital to attain.

The PRC certainly is building, as fast as it can, a military capability designed for the purpose. The PRC also has the stated goal of replacing, in the near-to-medium term, us as the sole world power.

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