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9 Jan, 2023 14:13

War-game simulation predicts outcome of Taiwan conflict

Both US and Chinese forces would be crippled, a Washington think tank believes
War-game simulation predicts outcome of Taiwan conflict

An attempt by Beijing to take control of Taiwan by force in 2026 would likely be unsuccessful, CNN has reported, citing a war simulation conducted by a US think tank. The ensuing conflict would not only cost Beijing dearly but also the Taiwanese, US and Japanese militaries, the analysis finds.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report, titled ‘The First Battle of the Next War,’ estimates that the US would lose at least two aircraft carriers and that 3,200 American troops would be killed in three weeks of combat, according to CNN, which viewed an advanced copy of the analysis. 

The simulations, which were run 24 times, found that Taiwan survived as an autonomous entity in most scenarios, but with heavy losses to all parties. “The United States and Japan lose dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and thousands of service members,” the report predicts.

China’s navy would be left “in shambles” and Beijing could lose 10,000 troops, 155 combat aircraft and 138 major ships.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s military would be “severely degraded” and left to defend an island “without electricity and basic services.” Japan could also lose approximately 100 aircraft and 26 warships as US bases on its territory come under attack from China.

CSIS said such a war is not inevitable “or even probable,” noting that Beijing could opt for a strategy of diplomatic isolation and economic coercion instead.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said Beijing’s goal is “peaceful reunification” with the island, but has not ruled out force.

The report notes there is no comparison between a Taiwan conflict and the crisis in Ukraine, because it would be “impossible” to get troops and supplies onto the island once a war begins. 

“Whatever the Taiwanese are going to fight the war with, they have to have that when the war begins,” CSIS said, arguing that Washington needed to fully arm Taipei in advance.

However, while the US may win a “pyrrhic victory” in Taiwan, it would end up “suffering more in the long run than the ‘defeated’ Chinese,” the report concluded.

Beijing views self-governing Taiwan as an integral part of its territory under the ‘One China’ policy – which is acknowledged by the US – and opposes any form of diplomatic and military assistance to the government in Taipei. Chinese officials have accused Washington of deliberately eroding the long-standing arrangement by having close military cooperation with the island. 

President Joe Biden has twice promised US military support in the event of a Chinese invasion, first in May and again in September. White House officials have walked back those statements, however, stating that the US is not encouraging Taiwanese independence.

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