Friday, May 1, 2020

The Taiwan Opportunity

What do we need to counter China?  Well, lots of things but one of the major things is allies – not just any allies but, ideally, militarily and economically strong allies.  We need the kind of allies that will give China pause and make them reconsider their unbridled expansionist policies.

Japan is one such ally.  They have a strong military and robust economy.  With their strength and their proximity to China, they are a significant impediment for China.  India could be another ally if we can build better relations with them.  South Korea might be a qualified ally although their willingness to side with the US outside of the North Korean threat is suspect.

Yet another potentially strong ally is Taiwan.  They have a small, though competent, military and a reasonably strong economy.  What they lack on the military side of things is access to the latest US technology and support.

US support for Taiwan has always been a hesitant proposition, at best.  Successive US governments have refrained from demonstrating outright support and recognition in an attempt to curry favor (or at least prevent worsening relations) with China.  Well, that ship has sailed.  China has placed itself on a direct collision course with the US by flaunting international laws and treaties, conducting an expansionist territorial grab of the entire East and South China Seas and beyond, routinely trespassing into the territorial waters of neighboring countries, engaging in massive intellectual property theft, engaging in blatant currency manipulation, seizing US military assets, conducting cyber espionage, etc.  There is no need to placate China because there is no longer anything to be gained by doing so, if there ever was.

Just as the termination of the INF treaty with Russia has freed the US to pursue intermediate range ballistic missiles (as China has been doing for many years), so too does China’s now public and clearly acknowledged anti-US stance free us to pursue geopolitical strategies that were formerly off limits due to our naïve and forlorn hopes for peaceful accommodation.  Strengthening our relations with Taiwan is now a viable (it always was – we were just too timid to pursue it) course of action.

Consider what a greatly militarily strengthened Taiwan could do in containing China. 

Given the physical proximity of Taiwan to China, China would have no choice but to refocus a significant portion of their political and military resources away from expansion and towards containment and countering the threat of Taiwan.  This refocus would allow us the opportunity to push back against China’s recent expansions and incursions while China is otherwise occupied closer to home.

A militarily stronger Taiwan complicates China’s war plans by forcing them to allocate more resources to Taiwan which absolutely must by the first Chinese move in any war.

I know there are many ‘Chicken Little’ Chinese observers who are terrified that any strengthening of Taiwan by the US would instantly lead to total nuclear war but that’s simply fear-inspired garbage reasoning.  China has as much or more to fear and lose from a war with a Taiwan-US partnership (with, likely, Japan and others joining in against China) than we do.  China can bluster all they want but the reality of their military and economic position is that there’s not really anything they can do about it.  China has zero chance to win a war against the US (at the moment) let alone an alliance of the US, Taiwan, Japan, and others. 

Taiwan also provides a very strong counter to, and penetration of, China’s territorial claims.  Taiwan’s territorial claims and their associated Economic Exclusion Zone (defined as 200 miles by the UNCLOS treaty of which China is a signatory) provide the prefect legal justification for a Taiwan-US partnership to push back with military force, if needed, against China’s illegal expansionist activities.

Again, there are the same ‘Chicken Little’ fear mongers who believe that if we even strongly protest an illegal Chinese action we’ll instantly spark a nuclear war.  The reality is that China is using their military (their Coast Guard and fishing fleets are thinly disguised extensions of their military) to intimidate neighboring countries as they seek to execute de facto seizures of territory.  There is no reason we shouldn’t use our military to equally aggressively push back against these territorial seizures and partnering with Taiwan provides the necessary legal and international standing to do so by ‘assisting’ Taiwan at their behest.

So, how, specifically, should we support and strengthen Taiwan?

The answer is military subsidies.  Let’s outright give Taiwan ships, aircraft, weapons, equipment and logistical support.  It’s easily justified as an investment in our own security.  All Taiwan has to supply is the manpower to operate the equipment. 

Where would all this equipment come from?  Well, for one thing, it would help if we would stop SinkEx’ing our perfectly good ships.  Imagine what dozens of Spruances could do for Taiwan’s naval power.  We early retired the Tarawa class, if those would be of use to Taiwan.  Let’s give them F-35s and make China account for stealth aircraft right in their own backyard.  Supposedly, we’ve got thousands of M1 Abrams sitting in parking lots.  Why not give them good homes in Taiwan?  The LCS is of no use to us.  Let’s give them the entire LCS fleet.  The range, endurance, and maintenance problems that make them nearly useless to us would be greatly mitigated by operating in Taiwan’s home waters where those factors are not significant drawbacks.

Hey, if we can get some partial payments for the equipment, so much the better but let’s keep firmly in mind that the equipment transfers are for our benefit – payment is not required.  If it helps, think of these ships and aircraft as unmanned (by Americans) vehicles.

Right now, China is focused well outside the East and South China Seas - well beyond the first island chain to Africa, the Middle East, South America, etc.  Why not give China some serious problems to deal with right in their own backyard?  Let’s blur their global focus and make them refocus on their own backyard.  That can only help slow their global activities and give us opportunities to strengthen our own global positions.

In addition to providing equipment and support, let’s start conducting ‘port visits’ to Taiwan with occasional ships and aircraft and then, over time, with more and more ships and aircraft with longer and longer stays until, eventually, we’ve established a de facto permanent presence and base.  Does this kind of slow, incremental, creeping, reach sound familiar?  It should.  It’s the Chinese playbook!  Why shouldn’t we use it for ourselves?

Taiwan is an opportunity waiting to be grasped and all we need to do is demonstrate some fortitude to make it happen.

Of course, all of this depends on Taiwan being willing to cooperate and the key to that is demonstrating that such a course is in their own best interests as well as ours.


  1. Well all good but Taiwan would for that kind of deal really have say the words - Independence and we are Taiwanese. Their current PM came close but she still did not quite say it. Maybe ramping more military aid could follow but I think the US would have to careful you don't want to give the opposition ammunition.

    Also OT but looks like the shoe dropped on the FF(X)

    1. "Their current PM came close but she still did not quite say it."

      Perhaps because we won't say it?

    2. The largest part of why Taiwan's leaders won't declare independence is because according to their constitution the aren't a separate state. They are the real government of China and the PRC are illegitimate. That one of their governments should rule over China is one the few things that the PRC and the ROC can always agree on.

  2. I like this idea.

    Of course, we need to be aware that there will be political and economic complications that will arise from China feeling threatened.

    But I think that not doing this logical approach is the equivalent of appeasement.
    A robust support of Taiwan would, in my opinion, demonstrate a commitment to the region which would inspire confidence there that the US is serious about assisting their avoidance of Chinese domination.

    This would mean something to current allies like South Korea and Japan, and potential military allies like Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
    This should reduce the likelihood that these countries would need to try and cut the best deal they can with an aggressive and expansionist China.

    It would add to tensions with China, but that doesn't seem to be a reason not to do it.

    1. "This should reduce the likelihood that these countries would need to try and cut the best deal they can with an aggressive and expansionist China."

      A very astute observation - one I wish I had made!

  3. This is kind of what I've been talking about.

  4. "Also OT but looks like the shoe dropped on the FF(X)."

    So can we now forget about the LCSs?

  5. The reason we hold back beyond the PRC's clout is ROCs own political divisions. Independence, Native Taiwanese, Mainland ties still hoping for union on their terms, still devotees to the cause, and a legit risk of infiltration or a fifth column. We don't want those Kidds to end up in enemy hands after all.

    They need things that are good for anti access, highly automated, and simple to use. They only have an active force (all branches) of 160k. Yes, they have massive reserves. They could barely squeeze the Kidds into their force. They desperately need subs and we are the only country big enough to offer them without China putting on the squeeze. We need a diesel sub for democracy program we can export or work on scaling up the XLUUV so they can use it as a midget sub. Now that Saab and Boeing are in kahoots on TFX we should find a way to somehow get Taiwan some Gripens for short takeoff and landing. Way cheaper than F-35 and easier to maintain, without risking trade secrets.

    Same opportunity with MUSV and LUSV. Manned versions available for export.

    1. "We need a diesel sub for democracy program we can export"

      Now that's a great idea!

    2. "legit risk of infiltration"

      There is an information security risk but is it really that serious? I mean, it's a commonly held belief that China has already acquired every piece of information the US military has through its vast cyber hacking/attacking efforts.

    3. Having a design and having the item in hand to learn from still creates some wiggle room between the known and the unknown. They didn't go after the stealth in Kosovo and Pakistan for nothing.

    4. @ComNavOps , @AndyM:

      Don't forget China's infiltrayion of the Taiwanese command structure. The Lo Hsien-che case in 2011 comes to mind.

      The information security risk is one thing, but when there's a very good chance China has infiltrated and compromised Taiwan's command structure, when morale itself is in the pits...

  6. "Where would all this equipment come from? Well, for one thing, it would help if we would stop SinkEx’ing our perfectly good ships. Imagine what dozens of Spruances could do for Taiwan’s naval power."

    Those are good thoughts, but that requires a modest to extensive expansion of the Taiwan Navy to man and maintain these ships. That also means buying helicopters and weapons to equipment them. And, in the case of providing them with a Tarawa-class ship, Taiwan Navy would likely need additional surface ships to provide dedicated escorts.

    At the same time, the Taiwan Air Force needs to be strengthened. Giving them modern F-16s and Super Hornets would help with that.

    1. "That also means buying helicopters and weapons to equipment them."

      You caught the part about just giving them the equipment, right?

    2. Except, we're not in the habit of gifting billions in ships and weapons to another navy, regardless of how noble the intent might be. Besides, Congress wouldn't go along with this idea for a second. And, even if we gave Taiwan the ships, helicopters, and weapons for free, they would still be on the hook to expand their navy to man and maintain the ships. And, that is not a trivial cost.

    3. "Except, we're not in the habit of gifting billions in ships and weapons to another navy"

      Yes, we are. And, that was the point of the post - that we SHOULD be doing that FOR OUR BENEFIT as much as the receiving country's.

      We have a history/tradition of giving away military equipment: Lend Lease, huge dumps of equipment after WWII, we gave Iraq untold billions of dollars of tanks, vehicles, supplies, etc., we leave equipment in every country we fight in, we gave the South Vietnamese all kinds of equipment, we give away ships at near-free prices, we've given away untold amounts of equipment to Afghanistan, and so on.

      "regardless of how noble the intent might be."

      The intent ISN'T noble!!!! That was the point of the post - to give away the equipment BECAUSE IT HELPS US in countering China. That it helps the receiving country, too, is a win-win but we wouldn't be doing it out of nobility.

      "they would still be on the hook to expand their navy to man"

      No one is suggesting giving them 300 ships! Just give them whatever they can productively use.

    4. "We have a history/tradition of giving away military equipment:"

      The situations listed are all wartime experiences. Lend Lease was to enable our allies to defeat our common enemy. In South Vietnam, we left equipment behind to allow them to continue fighting North Vietnam. In Iraq and Afganistan, we left tons of support equimemt behind, but I don't remember leaving tanks behind in Iraq. I know we later sold Iraq 140 M1 tanks and some F-16s too. And, that some of that equipment later fell into the hands of ISIS.

      But, your suggestion would be to do this during peacetime which is something we've never done before.

      I agree that we should help Taiwan grow their military as a hedge against China. And, since taking office, Trump has ramped up arm sales to Taiwan.

    5. "The situations listed are all wartime experiences."
      "But, your suggestion would be to do this during peacetime"

      Wrong, wrong, very wrong! You aren't getting this China discussion at all. WE ARE AT WAR WITH CHINA!!!! It may not be a shooting war but it is most certainly war. China is attacking our networks daily, engaging in intellectual property theft on a massive scale, engaging in currency manipulation to try to tear down our economy, seizing our military assets, invading and seizing territory, making illegal claims of ownership over vast territories, engaging in spying on US bases, etc. They recognize that they're at war with us. It's up to us to recognize the same.

      And, by the way, yes we have given military equipment to countries in peacetime. For example, we gave the Philippines six riverine patrol boats in 2013. We have transferred at least two Hamilton class Coast Guard cutters to Vietnam. We gave six 45 ft Metal Shark patrol boats to Vietnam in 2017. We gave the USS Cyclone to Philippines. We gave away Perry class frigates for a song to any country that wanted them. We 'sold' four Kidd class destroyers to Taiwan for a total of $732M - essentially, a giveaway. And so on.

      Yes, some of these transfers involved a nominal 'payment' but were, essentially free.

    6. Its one thing to give away used coast guard cutters, but its quite another to give away brand new $100 million dollar F-35s.

      The Hamilton-class cutters we gifted to other navies were 30+ years old at the time of their transfer and long past their prime. The Metal Shark boats given to Vietman were valued at $20 million, peanuts compared to what you propose to give away. The Kidd-class ships served about 17 years old before they were decomissioned and sold to Taiwan. In the early-2000's, Taiwan's entire military budget was about $10B a year. So, at the time, $732M for the Kidd-class ships was a significant investment for them.

      Like I said, I'm all for boosting Taiwan’s military to counter China. But, if we're going to subsidize Taiwan, what about South Korea, Australia, and Japan? Granted we already do to some extent already, but if you want to gift Taiwan brand new F-35s, why not do the same to our other allies in that area?

    7. "if you want to gift Taiwan brand new F-35s, why not do the same to our other allies in that area?"

      If there are countries that could benefit from F-35s and use them productively but can't afford them, why not give them away? It's a cheap investment in OUR security. That's the whole point - giving away free (or nearly so) equipment could enhance OUR security, under the right circumstances. You seem not to be grasping that idea.

      We can't operate F-35s around Taiwan because we have no bases in the area (sure, we have some basing rights in Japan but it's still not the same as having bases on Taiwan, if you think that's where the problem and opportunity lies) so why not give Taiwan F-35s and let them operate the aircraft for us. F-35s buzzing around Taiwan would cause fits for the Chinese. Why not make them fret over us and be forced to react to us, for a change? Let's have Taiwanese F-35s intercepting every Chinese aircraft that shows it's face. We gain and for nothing more than the cost of some F-35s.

      We've got a few hundred early F-35 'concurrency orphans' that we'll never use. Why not bring them up to some minimal standard and turn them over to Taiwan?

      Rather than thinking why we can't do something, why not try thinking outside the box about things we CAN do?!

    8. The Turks are getting removed as F-35 suppliers due to the Russian S 400 missile system. Invite the Taiwanese to the F-35 supplier table.

    9. Except, military sales, like that of the F-35, allow for a larger production run which drives down unit costs and allows for the development costs to be amortized over a larger build quantity. And, with enough sales, one could even recoup development costs.

      But, an F-35 is clearly an offensive weapon system, enough of which could change the military balance with another nation. Selling a few used destroyers and frigates, not so much. Even if Taiwan bought a dozen plus Spruances, even refurbished, they all would have been about 25 years old when they went back into service. Would a dozen plus Spruance change the balance with China? It certainly would enhance their defensive capabilities, but it wouldn't change the scale with China to their favor.

  7. I agree this is a fantastic idea.

    However, if I were China, I would use this (increased US military cooperation/support) as a reason to just invade and occupy Taiwan. If we are serious about this, let's let Taiwan 'acquire' 20 - 50 nukes and mobile ballistic launchers (from Israel?) so that an invasion is off the table. We would want to do this in a way so that we would have plausible deniability.

    China uses North Korea and their nukes as a thorn in our side? Let's give them a dose of their own medicine.

    1. "We would want to do this in a way so that we would have plausible deniability."

      Setting aside the question of the wisdom of nuclear arms for Taiwan, why would we care if China knows it was us? We have to stop being afraid of offending them.

    2. "Setting aside the question of the wisdom of nuclear arms for Taiwan, why would we care if China knows it was us? We have to stop being afraid of offending them."

      Well, I can definitely see them doing the same in either Venezuela and/or Cuba if we go that route.

      Just an observation...

    3. As China knows, public opinion matters, both at home and abroad. That's why they go to such extreme efforts to influence it. There would be a diplomatic price to pay for just giving Taiwan nukes.

      - It makes it more difficult to prevent other countries (Iran, Saudi Arabia) from getting nukes.

      - It helps China tell they story that the US is the bad guy, not them. Most of our allies are democracies, and their support is both valuable and not unconditional. We want to make it easy for countries to support us, not China.

    4. When the CCCP dissolved 3,200 strategic warheads were in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. Those newly independent nations chose not to remain nuclear weapons states and gave the weapons to Russia. The treaty on the Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons does not limit nuclear weapons states providing aid/weapons to other nuclear weapons states.

    5. @purple calico
      "Well, I can definitely see them doing the same in either Venezuela and/or Cuba if we go that route."
      Venezuela and Cuba are not nuclear weapon states. Taiwan is a nuclear weapon state. China would be violating the treaty on the Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons if they assisted Cuba or Venezuela.
      The United States could assist Taiwan and not be in violation of the treaty.

    6. @michael woltman
      "Venezuela and Cuba are not nuclear weapon states. Taiwan is a nuclear weapon state. China would be violating the treaty on the Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons if they assisted Cuba or Venezuela."

      Couple things:

      Taiwan is not widely recognized as a sovereign state. Legally, its little more then a "rebel" province in the eyes of the UN.

      There is, I believe, a clause in the Non-Pro that allows for withdrawing without penalties. A clause that is probably broad in term and scope.

      I doubt china will care if they violate yet another treaty...

    7. "Taiwan is not widely recognized as a sovereign state. Legally, its little more then a "rebel" province in the eyes of the UN."

      Its funny how we can sell arms to a state that doesnt technically exist. I think its past time for the US to step up, be politically incorrect, and formally recognize Taiwan. I imagine the floodgates would open and many other countries would follow our lead on this. Now is exactly the right time to do this, considering the building anti-Chinese sentiment, and the shrinking by-the-day military advantage we may hold. A bold move now, coupled with a defense pact would show China, as well as other regional countries our commitment to the area. Bringing the Phillipines back into the fold would be the next step afterwards, as well as overtures to India. This all has a finite period of opportunity, which should be taken before it passes!!!

  8. The CIA discovered Taiwan was trying to acquire nukes (in the 70's?) and we talked them out of it. That may have been a mistake.

    It's okay if China THINKS we helped them get nukes. It's still helpful if we do it in a way that doesn't tie them back to us directly, just like they do with N Korea.

    1. There is no reason that ROC cannot have nuclear weapons. ROC is China as the PRC is apt to point out and China is a nuclear weapon state. The US could share design details with Taiwan like we do with the UK. ( I would not recommend sharing current designs)

    2. It is likely that PRC already has our designs for nuclear weapons. So, I don't know if there would be any damage to let the ROC have the designs as well.

  9. The Ticonderoga class cruisers could find a new home in Taiwan, the US Navy doesn't seem to want them, maybe the Taiwanese fleet could put them to good use.

    F-15's should also be offered. F-15 EX's and naval strike missiles would make it much harder for the PRC to invade the ROC. The use of ski jumps could increase the ROC air force's ability to respond to an attack.

    If your wanted to do some asymmetric engagement, the United States could offer dual citizenship to all ROC military personnel. Any attack on the ROC military would be an attack on US citizens.

    Try to create greater linkage between the economy of Taiwan the USA. Make it easy to do business in Taiwan. Make it ease to be a dual citizen of Taiwan and the USA. Make the citizens of Taiwan want to become the 51st state or a Territory of the United States like Guam or Puerto Rico.

    Make ships built in Taiwan qualify as Jones Act compliant if the shipyard is majority owned by US citizens.

  10. "unmanned (by americans)" is an awesome idea.

    Top Tier F16s and F15s would be better than F35s, we dont want China being able to practice with real F35s before a real fight. And the fight will be a knife fight in a telephone box with little use for stealth.
    Burners on full up to 50,000ft and fire missiles.

    An IADS.
    A couple of dozen radar of various types, a few thousand missiles, in various armoured sites, concealed sites and mobile vehicles.
    Hell, every time the US decommissions a burke, take the radars and silos and ship them over.

    A whole load of ATACMS
    Mix of anti ship and cluster loads.

    Ideally, you want Taiwan to remain none belligerent as forward radar post.

  11. I don't think giving Taiwan nukes is advisable. One, I think we should be opposed to nuclear proliferation in all forms. Two, I just don't see where this would be a good idea in any event. Three, if Taiwan really wants nukes, they can get them. Might make for strange bedfellows, but that's how global politics works. Fourth, we put many Americans in there, in any capacity, and nukes pretty much become unthinkable. China wants to own Taiwan, not nuke it, and the ramifications of a nuke strike by Taiwan against China could very easily kick off WWIII.

    The CDR Chip doctrine of nuclear proliferation has been that we should tell any country, "Look, if you really want nukes, we probably can't stop you, but if you ever use them or attempt to use them against anyone, or let them fall into the hands of terrorists, we will that that as an attack with such weapons against the USA, and we will reserve the right to respond in kind."

  12. Bottom line is that this is just my first island chain approach taken to the nth degree. I'm fine with it, and think it's the kind of thing we should have been doing all along. I've focused my discussion on the south end, because the north (Japan, South Korea) can pretty much hold their own, and the south gets at their oil supply. But this would be totally in line with what I have in mind for the rest of the chain.

    I'm trying to decide whether it would be better to do Taiwan first to show we are serious, or whether it would be better to do the others first and work up to Taiwan. I am deciding that I don't really have the intel information that I need to make that call.

    I do think that we need to take a more strident tone with China. They know they can't win a shooting war with us today. We might not destroy them, but we could put their fleet on the bottom and severely disrupt their economy, and that just might create enough civil unrest to take them down. It would be more than they want to deal with in any event.

    So while we hold that kind of advantage, shouldn't we be dictating the rules of the game, and not China? We need to give them some room to save face, but we can worry about that later.

  13. I'm from Taiwan.

    'Taiwan' is not a disposable thorn (no matter how thorny we make it) we poke/hedge China with at our discretion.

    We either give Taiwan nukes to hedge China's invasion threat, if we don't want to fight on Taiwan's behalf. Or, we sign a mutual defense treaty, and committed to fight/win an ASB 100 miles from Chinese shore on Taiwan's behalf when it declares de jure independence.

  14. Broadly speaking, America needs to stop wasting time and start aggressively countering China's "diplomatic" advances.

    They have already achieved success in reaching out to various strategic countries (Greece, Australia, Italy, etc.) which might very well end up in China's camp soon if nobody counters their moves.

    Sending random Burkes to do nothing in the SCS doesn't matter, ensuring the Chinese don't get any more allies/puppets matters.

    1. Exactly. We need to be doing everything we can--economically, militarily, politically--to cultivate allies around the first island chain. We pretty much already have Japan as an ally, and we need to form stronger relationships with Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, and Taiwan. If we don't, China will, and that will not be a good thing.

      If we can build an alliance that runs the length of the first island chain, we can contain China, at least militarily. But we need to get out of no-win wars of occupation in the Mideast. The really ironic thing is that at this point, if we are protecting anybody's oil supply, it's China's.

    2. "We need to be doing everything we can--economically, militarily, politically"

      Before we can do anything, we need to first adopt a confrontational mindset. Another way of saying that is that we need to specify China as an enemy. Currently, we're still trying to straddle the fence and conduct trade with China while simultaneously making useless protests and gestures of disagreement.

      We need to begin treating them as an enemy which means pulling out our manufacturing, halting trade, ending Chinese student visas, developing our own sources of rare earths and medicines, etc. We need to isolate them from us.

      Along with that, we need to begin confronting them militarily with a policy of not backing down and accepting the possibility of escalation.

      Then, and only then, can we begin trying to build a network of allies in the region. Until we do those things, no country in the region is going to believe we'll really confront China and be there for them when needed.

      So, we can talk about building alliances but until we demonstrate our own resolve, it will be nothing but fruitless talk.

    3. Absolutely. And if there is a silver lining to the cloud of CV-19, it is that we may finally be waking up about this.

      It's fairly low risk at this point, because China can't really afford to take us on. But they're working on that, and if we don't establish new rules now, it will be too late by the time we get around to it.

    4. I think that before we can do these things we will need to dis-entangle ourselves from the dance that we are doing with China in which we buy their crap and they buy our debt.

      As long as we need almost a trillion dollars of debt to be purchased each year (and even more this year seems likely) we're in a compromised position.

      To change that situation will require a political unity that doesn't exist in this country.

  15. Don't see F-15s or F-18s ever been offered, no way Boeing loses China as a prime market for civil 7 series, Lockheed: more F16s and F35Bs, sure, why not. B version especially could be useful.

    We should donate the Ticos if Taiwan wants them. No problem giving them LCSs, we might have to PAY THEM to get them off our hands but they would probably be more useful to Taiwan, maybe even they could upgrade them a bit or just use them as reef barriers against Chinese invasion fleet....Taiwan needs more subs for sure!

    M1s seem to be ok too if they want them.

    I just don't know if Taiwan would go along, always got the feeling they were OK being "stuck in the middle", not quite ever going full independence and seeing what China would require lots of behind the scenes work on both sides and some secret deliveries before they would go independent.

    1. Taiwan is a democracy, and as in any democracy, there are competings ideas.
      The current ruling party is pro-independence, and enjoys strong popularity currently. The current government would welcome any increase in support from the US, up to and including open support for Taiwans formal recognition as an independent state. Taiwan has been begging the US for additional military support for decades. She has formally requested subs, F-35s, F-16Vs, M1s and additional batteries of AA missiles and radars in the last couple years.

    2. The Ticos would certainly be of use and would complement the former Kidd class ships they operate, but I imagine the Ticos are in poor condition compared to their older half-siblings!!!

    3. they could offer Taiwan- with ability to update as needed via US Defense contractors- a boatload of the older F-15's and 16's in the boneyard. Offer them the A models, which would need extensive updating, but as Taiwan demonstrated already, putting AESA radars and updating the cockpits and avionics makes the jets at least "pretty good". Despite the fact most think the entire island will be a smouldering wreck in 15 minutes, history shows those missiles are going to miss, and alot, and aircraft will survive, especially those behind mountain ranges and such and what assuredly will be some parked on roads, not airfields. Abrams updated to m1a2 standards, say SEP V1, will also match the type 99's that could make it to the island. Key here is "could" make it, Taiwan should invest in a cheap, relatively long range Anti ship missile that coupled with cheap jammers, say MALD-J's, and overwhelm any ship borne force. Then the air forces can trade beatings. Time is not an ally for China if they can't overwhelm Taiwan in getting there and taking it over in days. Sink a good part of the invasion fleet, and it's even uglier..

  16. What Taiwsn needs the most, in my opinion, is:
    1. Diesel subs. The Soryu class would be ideal.
    2. Patriot batteries.
    3. NASAMS batteries. Preferably with phased array sensors.
    4. Naval Strike Missile batteries.
    5. LRASMs.
    6. Small missile corvettes.

    What she probably doesn't really need is large naval units like cruisers and destroyers. Her air force aircraft are probably also going to be short lived in a shooting war.

    Mobile batteries of anti air and anti ship batteries will be more survivable, as will subs and small corvettes that can operate from the hundreds of small bays and inlets along Taiwanese shores.
    Taiwanese military tactics need to be more assymetrical, given her proximity to mainland Chinese airfields and missile batteries.

  17. Earlier mention of supplying military equipment at no cost, think current prime example not mentioned was Israel, think US Foreign Military aid has been ~$3 billions for many years.

  18. I'm late to the party, but I'm keen on the idea of giving Taiwan lots of military hardware. Turning the LCS over to them to act as OPVs and longer range missile boats with aviation and rhib facilities works better for them than the US, as CNO said. Put on nsm or their own indigenous missiles.

    But it's possible for the US to build ships for Taiwan too. I mean, the US built the Ambassador class missile boats for Egypt, of all countries, so why not Taiwan?

    Or if Taiwan wants to develop its own ship industry, the US can simply give money to Taiwan to pay for , say. An extra 12 or 24 missile boats, and their anping class patrol boats as well (they are convertible to missile boats).

    As for the air force, they'll have just over 200 F16s. The number of missiles is probably more important than plane numbers, imho.

    The sub issue will depend more on Japan than the US, again imho, because the US only builds huge nuclear powered subs. Europe builds what Taiwan needs, but only Japan is likely to advice or even build for Taiwan.

    I've said before that one country which would make a mint is Sweden. They build everything that Taiwan needs. Visby Corvettes, Gripens, smallish advanced subs. There's tens of billions there for the taking, which can offset any loss of trade that China's busy stealing from them anyway.

    But I suspect they're still too scared or leftish to do so.


  19. Fujian province is still economically dependent on Taiwan and so are many other coastal regions in China. China, at least the government as it stands, neither wishes to sabotage their own economy or start a war they can't forseeably win.

    1. Sorry for commenting on another post thinking I commented there, I wanted to clarify that they're obviously aiming to annex it but in the short term wouldn't go gung ho right into Taiwan without a clear victory in sight. They're obviously going to continue isolating Taiwan diplomatically and building military dominance, and isolating them from sea lanes that aid and support could come through.

    2. "They're obviously going to continue isolating Taiwan diplomatically and building military dominance"

      I would assume that, barring an accidental war, China will do exactly as you say until, one day, they simply issue an ultimatum to Taiwan when it becomes apparent that Taiwan has no hope of resisting.

      The possible savior in this scenario is the US, IF WE BEGIN CONFRONTING CHINA INSTEAD OF APPEASING THEM.

  20. Or... make major basing a thing. If there was a flight of RAAF Growlers, a squadron of RAF Typhoons, a submarine base supporting UK, US, Aus, Jap, French subs, a rotation of mixed infantry companies through Taiwan every 6 months, a couple of frigates home ported in Taiwan and a multi national "research and development" facility for cruise missile programs...

    Well, China might have a few 2nd thoughts about Taiwan.


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