A Chinese bid to invade Taiwan annex the democratically ruled territory will fail but the military forces of China, the US, Japan and Taiwan will suffer enormously, according to extensive war game simulations done by a US think tank.
The complex simulation was done in the backdrop of rising concerns that under Xi Jinping, China is committed to fulfill its goal of 'reunifying' China by annexing Taiwan through military means. Tensions in the South China Sea have been high in recent times, with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) routinely conducting drills inside Taiwan's air defense zone.
The report on the war game simulation done by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is titled 'The First Battle of the Next War'. Geopolitical and military strategists conducted as many as two dozen war scenarios to arrive at the conclusion that a war over Taiwan will fail to reach its original goal of annexing the territory but would leave four militaries devastated.
Losses for the US
The military losses for the US will be quick and devastating and the US will take long to recover from the blow it receives to its global hegemony. "The United States and Japan lose dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and thousands of service members. Such losses would damage the US global position for many years," the report says, according to CNN.
The US will succeed in stopping China from annexing Taiwan but at least two US aircraft carriers 'would lie at the bottom of the Pacific," says the report. As many as 3,500 US soldiers will die in the first three weeks of the war. The US will also lose between 10 to 20 large warships and hundreds of aircraft.
Losses for China
In addition to failing to conquer Taiwan, China will also suffer heavy military devastation. The PLA will lose about 10,000 troops, while at least 155 combat aircraft and 138 major ships will be destroyed. "China also suffers heavily. Its navy is in shambles, the core of its amphibious forces is broken, and tens of thousands of soldiers are prisoners of war," the report says.
Losses for Taiwan
Taiwan will remain undefeated with the help of the United States but its military and economy will be nearly decimated in the war, according to the war games simulations. Taiwan's army lose about 3,500 soldiers while all of its 26 destroyers and frigates will be sunk by China. "While Taiwan's military is unbroken, it is severely degraded and left to defend a damaged economy on an island without electricity and basic services," the report adds.
Losses for Japan
Japan will be drawn into the war as it hosts US military bases. The PLA will go after the US military bases in Okinawa as the war breaks out, drawing Japan into the war. Japan would lose at least 100 fighter aircraft and 26 warships, the report says.
Will war Break Out?
CSIS says it is highly unlikely that a war between China and the US will break out over Taiwan. Despite its aggressive posturing, China will do everything possible to avert a war, the report says. Beijing would instead pursue other strategies like diplomatic isolation and economic pressure to achieve its South China Sea goals. "The Chinese are going to do everything they can in my estimation to avoid a military conflict with anybody," the report say.
However, in recent times there have been increasing Chinese military drills in the region. Taiwan reported the biggest ever Chinese incursion into its airspace in the last week of December. Taipei said more than 70 Chinese aircraft including fighter jets entered its air defence identification zone in the last 24 hours.
The Taiwanese defense ministry said the incursions were made by 42 J-10, J-11, J-16 and Su-30 fighter jets as well as two Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft, a KJ-500 early warning aircraft. The ministry added that as many as 43 aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait's median line. The breaching of the median line is a significant step as it is seen as the unofficial buffer between China and self ruled Taiwan.
China has ramped up military activities in recent months, heightening speculation about a possible invasion of the island, which Beijing sees as part of the mainland. China sees the self-ruled and democratically governed Taiwan as a rogue breakaway region that must be united with the mainland. Under Xi Jinping, China has reaffirmed that it will not abandon the possible use of military power to take back the island.