Military experts split on whether war over Taiwan likely within 5 years

Published (HKT): 2021.05.02 06:39

Relations between China and the United States have escalated from a “cold war” to a “warm war” and it is possible for Beijing to launch hostilities over Taiwan sometime in the next five years, military analysts say.

Analysts told Apple Daily it could not be denied that the “three seas” of the Indo-Pacific region, namely the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, had all emerged as potential flashpoints for conflict. This was reflected, they said, in a recent U.S.-Japan joint statement, which included a rare mention of Taiwan.

After this joint statement, the Japanese government reportedly began discussing contingency plans in the event of a sudden emergency in Taiwan, including legal questions surrounding the deployment of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Taiwanese military expert Chi Le-yi said that a key indicator of the situation’s importance would be whether the U.S. and Japan held joint military exercises focusing on scenarios in the strait. The two countries could even go one step further and invite the self-ruled island to participate in the drills, he said.

Chi added that U.S. intervention in Taiwan did not necessarily mean troops on the battlefield, as the Americans could provide military intelligence and assist in reconnaissance.

He believed the chances of war within the next six years were not high, as systemic reforms that the People’s Liberation Army began internally in 2015 had yet to mature.

Another military affairs commentator, Wong Dong, saw a different picture. He said the cross-strait situation was at its most tense in decades, and the U.S. military was dropping many hints that war could break out.

Wong predicted that China could wage a war within five years, or at the latest, 10 years. The U.S. and Japan had gone from pursuing strategic ambiguity on regional security issues to adopting clear positions, he said.

Whether China could withstand the impact of a war would not be a factor in its government’s consideration, Wong said, because the decision to go to battle would be made primarily for the sake of shifting domestic contradictions, societal grievances and economic stagnation out of the country.

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