Introduction: For many years the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has aggressively followed a long-range strategy to eventually rule the world. In broad terms, the PRC under the absolute autocratic rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has accomplished the following in a remarkably short period of time:
• Transformed itself into a modern technological manufacturing powerhouse.
• Eschewed isolation and joined international organizations in order to control those organizations to the PRC’s advantage. According to Dr. Peter Navarro formerly of the Trump administration, China already controls 5 of 15 UN organizations and strongly influences all of the others including the Security Council.
• Developed dozens of key industries that create power and influence for the regime. As far back as 2015, China already led the world in production of ships, iron, steel, textiles, cement, chemicals, toys, electronics, railcars, aircraft, solar cells, shoes, cellphones, air conditioners, and personal computers. More than 80% of medical pharma materials come from China. In rare earths which are vital to so many high technology industries today China has an 80% lock on the supply. Other sectors they mean to dominate include satellite technology, AI, cyber, quantum computing and communications, battery development and manufacturing, and robotics.
• Transformed their military using espionage and intellectual property theft on a globally massive scale to rise from a backward, regional force into a modern global powerhouse with the size and scope to challenge US primacy in the Indo-Pacific. Among the key assets the PRC military has is the world’s largest Navy and most heavily armed Coast Guard and a Maritime Militia numbering in the thousands of vessels also under military control.
• As documented in detail by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and as adjudicated by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration, China illegally seized, developed, and militarized numerous features in the South China Sea.
• Acquired port facilities and other infrastructure all over the world.
• Established itself as an international financial powerhouse with multi-country banking entities like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and introduced its own currency as a legitimate competitor as one of the world’s premier reserve currencies.
• Launched the Made in China 2025 Program which is well on its way to dominating certain key sectors such as Aerospace, New energy vehicles, Next-generation information technology, Advanced railway, High-technology shipping, Biotechnology, Robotics, Energy and power generation, new materials, and Agricultural machinery.
• Abrogated the One China, Two Systems agreement with the UK that had been in place for decades and forcefully took over Hong Kong in 2020 while the world looked on mostly in silence.
• Unleashed (perhaps deliberately) on the entire world the worst global pandemic since the 1918 Spanish flu inflicting untold death, despair and economic destruction across the globe for which its culpability has been effectively deflected with ease.
The Immediate Challenge: One might ask, what’s next for the PRC while the US dithers with progressive fads of systemic racism, tribalism, wokeness, transgenderism, climate doom, and fiscal insanity? Taiwan is next, is what. The PRC is laser focused on Taiwan and has been for decades without wavering.
In a tour de force of intellectual brilliance, Council on Foreign Relations fellows and experienced diplomats Robert D. Blackwill and Philip Zelikow have laid out China’s situation vis a vis Taiwan. Their report lays out clearly and concisely the strategy the US should follow to help Taiwan stay out of the clutches of the PRC. Readers are encouraged to read this outstanding report in its entirety. It describes concrete steps the US should take and well-reasoned rationale for those steps to be successful in the admirable goal of keeping Taiwan safe from the insatiable ambitions of the CCP and dictator Xi Jinping. It is not the purpose of this article or even within the ability of this author to advance the brilliant analysis and arguments regarding US policy towards both the PRC and Taiwan authored by Messrs. Blackwill and Zelikow. Instead, this article will postulate what will happen to Taiwan in graphic terms if US leadership along with that of our allies allows Taiwan to be conquered by the PRC either by slow motion strangulation or by war. And, conquered they will be unless the US and our allies effectively deter PRC’s plans to conquer Taiwan in the next few years and/or decide to come to its defense in a shooting war, either of which propositions are far from certain based on current actions and policy towards Taiwan by the US, et al. US policy is shrouded in mystery as is that of potentially affeded allies.
There is no question that Taiwan will choose the defend itself if the PRC attempts a military takeover. And, Taiwan has some means of defense and in recent years, recognizing the looming threat and especially last year due to the despicable treatment of the citizens of a free Hong Kong, has endeavored to increase its defenses. Taiwan’s military is ranked 22nd in power in the 2021 Military Strength Ranking prepared by Global Firepower.com. Its resources are considerable with up to 1.8 million personnel potentially in arms, almost 800 aircraft, many very modern including US provided F-16’s, 1160 tanks, 750 Armored Personnel carriers, and 117 ships of all types among other things. But, it is simply no match for the PRC’s 3rd ranked military consisting of 3.3 million personnel, 3260 aircraft, 3200 tanks, 35,000 Armored Personnel Carriers, and over 770 ships of all types. It’s geography and aid from allies such as the US and Japan could allow it to put up a spirited defense. But, the odds against success are great and it is far from certain that the US and its allies will actually fight to defend Taiwan. In fact, Mr. Blackwill and Mr. Zelikow lay out a persuasive case against US actual involvement in fighting the PRC as the risks of a wider conflict are too high. Thus, their many astute recommendations to preclude PRC action against Taiwan should be taken very seriously by US leaders and our allies. Because it is a foregone conclusion that the ROC will fight for its very survival and it has considerable capability to bloody the nose of the tyrants, the PRC will pay a heavily in lives lost and lost military assets to conquer the ROC. Because of this, after their defeat, the people of Taiwan can expect the worst from their conquerors.
The Aftermath: If the US and our allies to fail to follow the recommendations of Mr. Blackwill and Mr. Zelikow, the government and people of Taiwan will greatly suffer greatly. Why? Well, consider the treatment of the Falun Gong under Chinese rule where the State Department reports “arbitrary arrests, house raids, societal discrimination, and forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners”. Or, consider the treatment of the Uyghurs, millions of whom have been thrown into concentration camps for reeducation, forced sterilization, mass rape and more. Or, the Tibetans with 500,000 put into forced labor camps against their will, the Khazachs or Chinese Christians. The people of Taiwan will no doubt be similarly abused as follows:
• 23.6 million free people of Taiwan will be instantly enslaved. No longer free people, their every move will be recorded, the movements restricted, and every aspect of their now free lives to pursue their dreams will be controlled by the CCP and its evil enforcers. The citizens of the former Republic of China will be assigned social credit scores and those scores will be low as they resisted their new masters. They will not be able to get an education without CCP permission. They will not be able to leave Taiwan without permission. They will not be able to worship as they formerly did. They will not be able to have a job unless the CCP allows it. They will be prevented for communicating with the outside world and relatives that may be in faraway lands. They will no longer have access to information for their needs or for their entertainment and enjoyment as the world-wide net will be closed to them forever. From then on, when they want information, they will have to get it from the CCP. Think of Lucas’ THX 1138 and you won’t be far off from what they will suffer. They will be thrown into abject slavery.
• If a war is what subdues Taiwan, hundreds of thousands will die and millions will suffer. Despair, suffering, deprivation, and pain will be their new lot in life.
• The dreams, ambitions, and hopes of the remaining millions after the war will be snuffed out forever to be replaced by slavery, absolute dominating control by the totalitarian leaders of the CCP. Millions of aspiring, free people will have their souls crushed in an instant the minute the PRC flag flies over Taipei.
• The PRC will immediately capture and control a significant strategic asset, the design, manufacture, and production of most of the world’s most advanced semiconductors and microelectronics. Microchips and other esoteric electronic components within the most advanced technical equipment that are now produced by a free people and that support millions of computers, communications devices and a mind-numbing additional array of devices and applications that help fuel and run the modern world, will be seized and owned, controlled, and operated by the totalitarian regime in Beijing. Do you think the market will drive the price of these in the future? No, the price will be set by the CCP and the world will suffer economically as a result. There is even a high degree of risk that once the CCP controls this advanced manufacturing sector, they will use that ownership to dictate to and control other countries who want the commodities.
• Investment opportunities in Taiwanese industries and innovation will cease immediately as all industry and all inflows and outflows from their economy will be absolutely controlled by the CCP. Affected will be dozens of industries including materials industries, petrochemicals industries, fine materials industries, polymer and electrical materials industries will all be adversely affected and fall under absolute CCP control.
• Millions of Taiwanese relatives scattered all over the world will be cut off from their captured kinfolk.
• With their hopes and dreams cut off, destroyed in an instant, many will despair over time and commit suicide. Others will develop mental illnesses. Some will turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Many will turn to crime to survive. Many will be killed outright by the CCP masters for resistance or even for the slightest non-conformity or will they will be thrown into prison camps for any non-conformity to the CCP’s rules. Taiwan’s society will be irreparably damaged for all time by its enslavement.
• The world will be a poorer place with 23 million souls lost to the despotic regime in Beijing. If the US, Taiwan’s free Asian neighbors, and the West including the peoples of Europe and the new world fail to lift a hand to defend freedom, their minds and souls will be tarnished with a guilty stain. It will be a shameful act of cowardice and selfishness akin to the disgrace of the world in ignoring the Holocaust during WWII as millions of Jews were murdered by the Nazi’s. 6 million were killed by the evil that was the 3rd Reich. How many millions will we allow the brutes in Beijing to kill?
More adverse outcomes could be added to the above list but you get the point. The point is, “what is the US going to do to prevent this abomination from happening? That is where Mr. Blackwill and Mr. Zelikow’s report comes in. Read it, digest it, support it! Write your Senators and members of Congress. Tell your friends and neighbors and ask them to write too. It is urgent to garner support for the US and its allies to take effective action as is outlined in precise and eloquent detail in their report.
The Challenge and Conclusion: At the end of their report, Mr. Blackwill and Mr. Zelikow ask final questions of great import. They and the answers they provide are quoted from the section titled “U.S. Vital National Interests and Taiwan”:
1. Is a Chinese takeover of Taiwan per se a threat to U.S. vital national interests? No.
2. Would it be a threat to the vital national interests of Japan? Probably. The Japanese should answer this question—and share this assessment with their allies, beginning with the United States. In 1938, France had a treaty commitment to help defend Czechoslovakia. The Japanese have no such commitment to Taiwan and have not felt the need to adopt one.
3. Would a violent Chinese conquest or subjugation of Taiwan, unresisted by the United States, threaten U.S. vital interests? Perhaps, depending on assessments of China, Taiwan, Japan, and others, and not just on a reflexive incantation about American credibility.
4. Would the corollary threat of Chinese subjugation of Japan be a threat to the vital national interests of the United States? Yes.
5. Should the United States assume direct responsibility for the defense of Taiwan? No.
6. Should the United States help Taiwan defend itself? Yes.
7. Should the United States and Japan supply Taiwan in a crisis, confronting Chinese attempts to deny access and therefore, at a minimum, risk the outbreak of local fighting and loss of life? Perhaps. The United States, Japan, and others should credibly plan to be able to do this in order to have the choice; and in the crisis, they could well implement that plan, depending on the kinds of assessments we have mentioned.
8. If China attacks U.S. and Japanese resupplying forces and thereby widens the war, should the United States and Japan escalate to general war and mobilize to reconquer Taiwan? No.
9. But if China attacks U.S. and Japanese resupplying forces and thereby widens the war, should the United States and Japan freeze Chinese assets and mobilize for the heightened danger of general war? Yes.
“All of these questions should be debated now rather than after a Taiwan crisis erupts.”
I could not agree more! Americans should understand the real threat to Taiwan of an attack by the PRC and its rippling effect on our Allies especially Japan, on the world economy, and ourselves. Then, we must take concrete action in line with the authors’ excellent recommendations to do whatever we can to keep that from happening. If we let it happen due to lack of attentiveness, failure to lead, distractions by domestic issues, or any other reasons, the US and most of the world will mourn the enslavement of a free Taiwan.