June 01, 2022

China has the power to take Taiwan, but it would cost an extremely bloody price

Featuring Tom Shugart

Source: CNN

Journalists Brad Lendon, Ivan Watson

On his first trip to Asia as United States President last week, Joe Biden gave his strongest warning yet to Beijing that Washington was committed to defending Taiwan militarily in the event of an attack from China.

Biden's comments, which compared a potential Chinese attack on Taiwan to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, appeared to deviate from Washington's decades-old policy of "strategic ambiguity" on the issue and seemingly raised the possibility of a military clash between US and Chinese forces.

It's the third time Biden has made similar remarks since taking office and, just as on the other two occasions, they were quickly walked back by the White House -- which insists its policy has not changed. However, it inevitably raises the question: if China tries to take Taiwan, are the United States and its allies able to stop it?

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Still, China could -- given its numerical advantage -- simply decide the losses were worth it, pointed out Thomas Shugart, a former US Navy submarine captain and now an analyst at the Center for a New American Security.

shu"There's gonna be hundreds if not thousands of (Chinese) vessels there to soak up those (Taiwanese) missiles," Shugart said.Missiles aside, China would face massive logistical hurdles in landing enough soldiers. Conventional military wisdom holds that an attacking force should outnumber defenders 3 to 1.

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Authors

  • Tom Shugart

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Defense Program

    Tom Shugart is an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. His research focuses on undersea warfare and maritime competition, ...