Jan 22, 2024 - World

China is unable to invade Taiwan, most U.S. and Taiwanese experts say

Expert opinion on whether Beijing could effectively quarantine, blockade or invade Taiwan
Reproduced from CSIS ChinaPower; Chart: Axios Visuals

Most U.S. and Taiwanese experts polled in a new survey say China lacks the capabilities to effectively carry out an amphibious invasion of Taiwan but is well-positioned to execute a blockade.

Why it matters: China's growing aggression towards Taiwan has made the region a dangerous potential flashpoint and could trigger a military conflict between the U.S. and China.

Details: The survey, conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) China Power Project and Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research, polled 52 U.S. experts and 35 Taiwanese experts.

  • Just 26% of U.S. experts and 17% of Taiwanese experts agreed China has the military capability to effectively launch an amphibious invasion of Taiwan within the next five years.
  • One reason for this assessment is that an "amphibious invasion would require a much larger commitment of military forces than a quarantine or blockade, and the operations involved would be significantly more complicated," according to the CSIS report.

Experts from both countries largely agreed China has the ability to carry out a quarantine or a blockade within the next five years.

  • 90% of U.S. experts and 62% of Taiwan experts said China could enact a quarantine — a limited blockade targeting commercial rather than military activity that would be carried out not by China's military but by its coast guard or other law enforcement vessels.
  • 80% of U.S. experts and 60% of Taiwan experts said China could execute a blockade, which would involve both commercial and military activity and be led directly by China's military.

Of note: Taiwanese experts overall had a lower threat perception towards China than U.S. experts, and consistently rated China as having lower capabilities than the U.S. respondents.

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