Invasion of Kinmen and Matsu Islands


Finn McCool

Captain
Registered Member
In any hypotheticals that I propose between Taiwan and China, generally I don't factor US involvement because it's too much of a swing factor.

I don't think so. American involvement is a definate. No sane American president would let the Chinese get away with that. Even if the Chinese only attacked the outlying islands, the Americans would send a couple of CVBGs as a warning and demand in the UN that they withdraw. The Americans would do this because if the Chinese continue onto "mainland" Taiwan they would have to get involved because of their treaty obligations so they would want to stop any war before it starts. Peace is in everybody's interest in the Strait.
 

The_Zergling

Junior Member
Finn McCool said:
I don't think so. American involvement is a definate. No sane American president would let the Chinese get away with that. Even if the Chinese only attacked the outlying islands, the Americans would send a couple of CVBGs as a warning and demand in the UN that they withdraw. The Americans would do this because if the Chinese continue onto "mainland" Taiwan they would have to get involved because of their treaty obligations so they would want to stop any war before it starts. Peace is in everybody's interest in the Strait.

I respectfully disagree. For example, suppose the US invades Iran in the near future. It will divide the public even more regarding foreign operations, and also strain the military. I don't think treaties have been very highly regarded by the US, but that's just my opinion. Just because the US has "promised" to defend Taiwan in the off-chance that China invades doesn't mean it will, especially if there is a strong public backlash against the US sending troops overseas to "fight other people's wars".

Something else to consider if WHY the US would want to defend Taiwan. Right now it's an unsinkable aircraft carrier, but it doesn't have (that much) in terms of natural resources, so basically it's only valuable for its convenient location. However, once the PRC gets an aircraft carrier operational it will drastically enhance the abilities of the PRC to project power, it will have the ability to simply go around Taiwan if it wishes to, effectively island-hopping.

Though I still believe that the US would probably defend Taiwan, it's by no means definite. (Again, opinion) It all depends on the American public, and how much they would approve of involvement, I'd say. The US has a lot to lose in a conflict and if they feel that China would negate the advantage of having the "unsinkable carrier" Taiwan in a few years anyway it's possible that they'd just say, "You want to unify? Fine, if Taiwan's okay with it."

However, there's a sticky detail. Taiwan has a lot of high-tech US equipment. Sure the F-16 isn't in the same league as the F-22, but if the PRC gets their hands on one (not to mention all the Patriot missile batteries, the E-2s, etc) the US would be in a very uncomfortable position. So actually even if Taiwan WANTS to unify it might in fact face opposition from the States. Again, hard to say.
 

Finn McCool

Captain
Registered Member
The US simply wouldn't tolerate the Chinese taking over a democratic country that is an ally. It would be percieved as a direct challenge, even if it was only something realtively small like taking over Kinmen and Matsu. The American people would be caught up watching the military blow stuff up on TV. (PRovided we aren't involved in a war in the Middle East as you said.) But the main objective the Americans would have would be preserving the status quo. (de facto independence for Taiwan, a China that claims the territory but doesn't really want to do anything about it).

Back on the islands...

The best thing they could do is try to hold out until a ceasefire. I think one would come fairly quickly (a few days of fighting) due to international outrage and American intervention. If the garrisons can stay alive for a few days they would probably be returned to Taiwan.
 

Vlad Plasmius

Junior Member
Before I start responding I want you all to look at this nice little map:

taiwan-drawglobe-3.gif


The areas in red are the islands being discussed. Imagine the difficulties of having to reinvade these islands. China would have advance warning and be able to shell, bomb, and do just about anything else imaginable to any force trying to assist or retake the islands.

Finn McCool

Who says having an agreement has anything to do with it?

How many Congressman do you think would support this? By that I mean specifically retaking these island, which would require open war against China? There are some hawks in the Administration and Congress, but not even the most hawkish would support such a suicidal move to retake some small islands. What they would do is suport certain measures to prevent an attack on the main island. Deployment of carriers, air patrols near the straits, that sort of thing.

Taiwan they would have to get involved because of their treaty obligations

The thing about tnat, we aren't exactly ones to honor a treaty even if it is required, let alone obligated. We've stabbed plenty of people in the back, no reason we should stop now.

I think one would come fairly quickly (a few days of fighting) due to international outrage and American intervention.

You greatly overestimate our ability to give a damn. I think there's a real possibility we'd let China have all of Taiwan if there looked to be a slight possibility of high American casualties. We certainly wouldn't and, more iimportantly, couldn't do anything about China invading Kinmen and Matsu. Taiwan's only hope would be making the cost too great for China.

Kampfwagen

It sounds to me that if China were to invade these islands, or even 'reclaim' them, the international backblast would most certantly be signifigant.

All China would have to say is "What are you going to do about it?" and no one could argue with them. Defending the main island of Taiwan would be hard enough, but defending these islands

The_Zergling

Taiwan has a lot of high-tech US equipment. Sure the F-16 isn't in the same league as the F-22, but if the PRC gets their hands on one (not to mention all the Patriot missile batteries, the E-2s, etc) the US would be in a very uncomfortable position.

Not really. Granted, we're ridiculously paranoid, but there's no way we could argue on that point alone. maybe, the E-2s, but China has a good understanding of much of our other technologies. Remember that China has good military ties with Israel and Pakistan, plus they've done a bit of scavenging in our last wars. They know plenty about us and our technology. Were they to devote the resources to it, they could produce technology surpassing our own by looking at what US technology they have access to.

There is one possibility, if the international community is outraged enough, they may support a Taiwanese declaration of independence. This is doubtful though. I think the world would actually kind of understand why China wouldn't allow Taiwan the ability to maintain artillery regiments neary a major port city or a SAM battery that could shoot down civillian airliners, Regardless of whether you see Taiwan as an independent nation or a renegade province, having the ability to do this while maintaining an active claim to that nearby nation (China) poses a good threat to that nation. China can't extend their SAMs very far into Taiwanese airspace and can't use artillery. Taiwan has this ability and with the new LACM it mean Taiwan has an even greater ability to attack China. China can probably cook up a pretty good argument for doing this.
 

The_Zergling

Junior Member
I agree with most of Vlad's points, his stance is pretty much what I'm thinking. The American public's tolerance for casualties (only American casualties, they've generally shown a sickening indifference to civilian or enemy casualties on the "other side") is considerably low, and they definitely won't be eager to suffer even more. Conflict with China simply cannot be compared to conflict in Iraq, where most of the casualties came after occupation.

So, yeah, it's probably true. Don't OVERestimate the US's ability to not give a damn.

I don't know anything about Matsu so I won't comment on that, but like I said before Kinmen has a extensive tunnel network, which would (somewhat) increase survivability should the Chinese want to take it. But once it's taken, then it's pretty much gone for good, there's no way Taiwan would have any chance of taking it back.

Penghu is that clump of islands smack between China and Taiwan, near the bottom of the picture. It's got a medium sized airport and harbor, and is more capable of full-scale operations than say, Kinmen. Taiwan has been reluctant to put high-tech stuff on Kinmen, considering that any fighters stationed there would be rat bait for Chinese missiles, both SSM or SAM. If I was in charge of defending Taiwan, I'd probably put emphasis on surviving a first PRC missile strike, by strengthening runways and shelters, plus building underground tunnels. The cost is relatively cheap, compared to 8 diesel submarines that wouldn't even enter service fast enough to make any difference anyway.

On a side note, I believe that the US reluctance to sell really high-notch weaponry to Taiwan does have a lot to do with the fact that they could very possibly fall into the hands of China, either via forceful or peaceful unification. I just don't see the US exporting F-22s or the newest AMRAAMs anytime soon, also taking into account that in all likelihood Taiwan will elect a pan-blue President in 2008, and might just decide to unify.
 

Finn McCool

Captain
Registered Member
I didn't ever mean that the Americans or Taiwanese would have to land on the islands to get them back. I meant that the us/international community would offer a choice to China: Back down and give the islands back or risk full scale war. It would be a game of brinkmanship. It would probably be something like the Cuban Missle Crisis. That way the pressure is on the Chinese. They have to decide if a few little islands are worth the risk. I know which option I would pick;) . And about the public support thing...everybody always says that the American public is unwilling to tolerate casualites. However, historical data from WWII to Iraq War II shows that the American public is very willing to take heavy casualties as long as they understand why the war is being fought and they believe that the US is winning. The US public abandons a war when it is loosing and it can't figure out why its men are being killed. Plus short military deployments get a boost in public approval when the general public can see its tax dollars at work. When I say that I mean they are watching aircraft carriers launch planes and doing the sort of stuff you see in recruting commercials. So I don't think public support would be a problem because the american people would realize China would need to be faced down to prevent all out war. (If the PRC gets Kinmen and Matsu they will probably be moving on to Taipei soon.)

Basically I think that China will take the islands and prepare for a full invasion. But they would not get to do it because the Americans would deploy a bunch of troops and hardware and the Un would demand a Chinese withdrawl. As I said earlier, China would be faced with the choice of war with an American and Taiwanese UN-backed force :nono: or just giving up the islands :) . Truly major combat would never take place other than on the islands themselves when the Chinese attacked them to begin with.
 

The_Zergling

Junior Member
Finn McCool said:
However, historical data from WWII to Iraq War II shows that the American public is very willing to take heavy casualties as long as they understand why the war is being fought and they believe that the US is winning. The US public abandons a war when it is loosing and it can't figure out why its men are being killed.

That's exactly the point. Does the American public even know why they would/should be fighting in Taiwan anyway? Public support was easy to drum up in the months leading up to the Iraq war, because of the "shock and awe" propoganda, nobody expected casualties, plus the media pretty much dehumanized the Iraqis up to a point that nobody really cared if they were being bombed. Then everyone's surprised when the Iraqis aren't exactly showing up with flowers after getting bombed.

I guess ignorance is the main factor here. Does the average American even know where Taiwan is, and what the majority of its people look like, and how things work? The basic consensus is, "Taiwan is democratic so we should protect it, blah blah".

In Iraq it was easy to profile Arabs (Iraqi or non-Iraq, Sunni or Shiite, etc) as enemies, because they generally don't look like Americans. Now imagine a situation in which they would possibly be fighting in Taiwan, where the people they're fighting and protecting look pretty much alike, and speak the same language. It's hard to dehumanize the enemy when your ally fits the description nearly perfectly.


Finn McCool said:
So I don't think public support would be a problem because the american people would realize China would need to be faced down to prevent all out war. (If the PRC gets Kinmen and Matsu they will probably be moving on to Taipei soon.)

Again, this depends on whether or not fighting over Taiwan is worth it. What makes Taiwan worth defending, in the eyes of the US public? (I know that as a rule the current administration hasn't really been a good portrayal of the wishes of over 50% of the American people, but what the public thinks of a war is important nonetheless)
 

FriedRiceNSpice

Senior Member
China can't extend their SAMs very far into Taiwanese airspace and can't use artillery.

But they do have that 700 ballistic missiles...

Back down and give the islands back or risk full scale war.

Full scale war could mean the destruction of both nations. In that sense it is exactly like the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 

RedMercury

Junior Member
UN support? You've got to be kidding me. Don't you know who are the permenant members of the security council? "International" support, from Japan, perhaps Australia, and some Europeans perhaps, but not under UN.

Brinksmanship can go two ways. Remember both sides have nuclear weapons and highly intertwined economies. And no one ever questions China or the Chinese people's resolve for eventual unification.
 

Finn McCool

Captain
Registered Member
RedMercury said:
UN support? You've got to be kidding me. Don't you know who are the permenant members of the security council? ".

OK OK maybe Un suport is a bit generous considering China is on the Security Council. I don't know how I forgot that:eek:. But international support would be very broad. Who do you think the most countries are going to pick? "Commies" who just attacked a democratic country or (as distasteful as it may be) the US? India would feel threatend by such an assertive China. The Europeans would be with NATO. Russia would be the main swing factor but I'm guessing that hey would go with America. At least they wouldn't veto anything because that would be percieved as siding with China. And by the way the permanant members of the Security Council are: US Britain France Russia China

I have a question. What is the topic of this thread really? I kind of want to get away from the topic of US reaction because its becoming everybody against McCool.

I think the best thing the US could do in this situation is confront China over their attack of the islands, get some sort of a ceasefire agreement. Basically, prevent war by scaring China and making it realize it isn't going get away with snatching Kinmen and Matsu. Given the choice of fighting a real war or getting a face-saving agreement and then claiming victory or something China would definately choose option #2. That's what I'm advocating. Avoiding war and preventing China from getting away with agression. The American forces would never even fire a shot. They would just be there to back up what the diplomats say. As I said earlier, prevserving the status quo is in everybody's interest.

Of course China's reaction in this scenario is just my opinion, and betting on an opinion is a situation as deadly as that is...dangerous.
 
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