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俄烏戰爭在一年半以後,俄國憑藉其龐大的國立和人員,似乎拖垮了烏國的戰力、士氣、和民心。以巴戰爭又平地一聲雷的爆發,不但以國周邊的阿拉伯諸國虎視眈眈、蓄勢待發;也讓美國軍力和軍援左支右絀。這些發展勢必影響美國當下和未來在台海的軍事部署和決策。

我曾預估2027年前台海無戰事。但俗話說,世事難料;我們升斗小民只能期望政治領袖們不以老百姓為芻狗,盡量發揮理性和睿智以和平方式解決利益衝突。

兩岸關係從過去的和平對峙隨著中、美國力的長消,逐漸進入外弛內張的狀況。雖然還說不上戰雲密布或圖窮匕見;但讓關切時局者緊張兮兮應該是有的。這個部落格過去也常有報導和評論;現在開一個專欄,今後將把相關議題集中討論。

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台灣自衛能力評估 ---- Cindy Wang/Peter Martin
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這篇報導是「老生常談」的第N次版本。

台灣自衛最弱的環節是「戰鬥意志」;致命傷是兩岸實力無法跨越的巨大鴻溝。


Taiwan’s Ability to Defend Against China Invasion Thrown Into Question

, 12/20/23

(Bloomberg) -- When former US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien visited Taipei earlier this year, he suggested that one million AK47-wielding Taiwanese “around every corner” and “in every apartment block” would be an effective deterrent to any Chinese invasion plans.

It didn’t go down well.

“Arming citizens is not the answer,” ran the headline in the Taipei Times, over an op-ed responding to his proposal to make the assault rifle widely available in a territory with one of the world’s lowest crime rates. “Ludicrous and unimaginable” was former President Ma Ying-jeou’s verdict, condemning what he called the island’s “weaponization” and a “tendency to turn Taiwan into a second Ukraine.”

The outcry over a remark by a straight-talking former US official points to the challenge of preparing Taiwanese society for the worst-case scenario with China. For all the support given by Washington, the reality is that when it comes to both civil and military defense, the democratically governed island still has a lot to do.

Taiwan is far from ready,” former Chief of the General Staff Lee Hsi-min said in an interview, citing “lots of improvements” that are needed in areas from weapons acquisition to civilian training. Deterrence is key, and equipment can of course help, he said, “but the most important thing is whether you have the will to defend yourself.”

Conversations with US-based security analysts and former administration officials, as well as with members of the government in Taipei, cast doubt on Taiwan’s ability to deter, let alone resist China — with some even questioning the will to do so.

The US sees important progress being made by the government in Taipei, “but the administration is also concerned that the threat facing Taiwan is significant and growing, and as a result more is needed to ensure Taiwan is keeping pace with that threat,” said Jennifer Welch, chief geo-economics analyst with Bloomberg Economics, who served as director for China and Taiwan on the US National Security Council until this year.

Those concerns have been fanned by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and are all the more acute going into January elections that are likely to determine the degree of strains with China across the Strait of Taiwan. Polls show a lead for Vice President Lai Ching-te, who wants to strengthen ties with Washington, suggesting no easing of tensions in sight.

The wars in Ukraine and in Gaza show that preparations need to go beyond the military field to areas including critical infrastructure security, civil resilience, cybersecurity, and continuity of operations and government, said Welch. “This is a massive undertaking that naturally requires significant time and resources,” she said.

Among the issues officials and analysts cite are the size of Taiwan’s military, which has shrunk in recent years, with the number of voluntary recruits dropping to a four-year low. A 12.5% increase in defense spending this year on last has only amplified questions over the suitability of the kit being purchased. And the state of unreadiness is compounded by a backlog in US arms sales to Taiwan including F-16 fighter jets and Abrams M-1 tanks that the Cato Institute estimates at more than $19 billion.

“I don’t think Taiwan is in very good shape,” said Kevin McCauley, former senior China analyst for the US Army National Ground Intelligence Center. “They are not making the right modernization decisions,” from buying heavy M-1 tanks and large ships “that won’t survive” to poor training. “They’re talking about how they’ll improve these things,” he said. “But I don’t see it.”

Oriana Skylar Mastro, a Center Fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, said that if it came to war with China, “Taiwan 200% will fall.”

“It’s an island. They run out of food and gas in 40 days,” she said. “A blockade is risky because it gives Taiwan time for the US to arrive. So the question is: can Taiwan hold off long enough to allow the US to arrive?” The assessment of the US government, she said, “is that they cannot hold out long.”

President Xi Jinping said during his November visit to San Francisco that China wasn’t preparing to “fight a cold war or a hot war with anyone.” But that’s done little to calm speculation over Beijing’s intentions, since it openly claims Taiwan as Chinese territory. For his part, President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that the US would come to the self-governing island’s assistance if it was attacked.

Department of Defense spokesman Martin Meiners said the US is focused on preventing military conflict over Taiwan “with both deterrence and diplomacy,” adding that “our entire policy is geared toward that goal.”

There’s no current information to suggest a war in the Taiwan Strait is imminent, the director general of the National Security Bureau, Tsai Ming-yen, said in October. But he noted that the Chinese Communist Party “has not given up its intention to invade.”

Beijing and the People’s Liberation Army have used that grey zone of uncertainty to conduct a campaign of intimidation spanning the gamut from military harassment, economic coercion and diplomatic oppression to spreading fake news, according to officials in Taipei. Most visibly, it carries out frequent incursions across the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a tacit boundary that has separated the rivals for decades, and the government has warned it expects more intimidation heading into the elections.

Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait “will require heightened urgency, attention, and resources in the critical years ahead,” US Assistant Defense Secretary Ely Ratner said in September.

Taiwan is actively discussing and exploring all possibilities with the US to strengthen its defenses, whether civil, military, or infrastructure, said a senior government official in Taipei, asking not to be named discussing private contacts. Some adjustments are ongoing, the official said, citing work with Taiwan’s tech sector to produce thousands of drones by 2024.

With China’s intimidation, Taiwan’s government concludes that it can’t discount any possibility — including that an unexpected accident triggers an escalation, said the official. So the emphasis is on preparing for the worst, something Taiwan has actively been doing since 1949 and its split from Communist China.

There is discussion over whether China would attempt a full-scale invasion or rely on a blockade to choke off Taiwan economically. Both carry risks for the aggressor, but analysts say that China doesn’t have the ships required to pull off an invasion – yet.

Taiwan meanwhile needs anti-ship missiles, air-defense systems, air and sea drones, and smart mines “to make such invasion a virtual impossibility,” says Dmitri Alperovitch, executive chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator think tank.

Still, the island’s mountainous terrain, rivers, and shallow waters in the Taiwan Strait make it “one of the most defendable places in the world,” said Alperovitch, author of a forthcoming book, “World on the Brink: How America Can Beat China in the Race for the Twenty-First Century.”

Limited stretches of coastline where invaders could establish a beachhead, the location of fish farms behind those beaches, plus the fact that few highways lead to the capital would all further impede the progress of any invading force.

Walk through central Taipei of an evening and the malls are full, designer shops crowded, and teenagers with boom boxes perform K-pop dance routines in the street. There’s little outward sign that this is an island at the nexus of global tensions.

Taiwan has attracted over $70 billion from returning Taiwanese businesses since 2019, while foreign investment in 2022 was the highest in almost 15 years, outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen said at an opening ceremony for a Micron Technology Inc. plant on Nov. 6. The US memory chip company’s presence endorses Taiwan as a safe place to invest, she said.

Equally, the island’s relative affluence may help inure its citizens to the threat of conflict.


Polls suggest that a little more than half of respondents are willing to defend Taiwan if China attacks, meaning that “some 40% of Taiwanese people are likely to choose capitulation or rapprochement,” said Puma Shen, associate professor at National Taipei University and the co-founder of Kuma Academy, a private organization dedicated to building civil defense. For Shen, the most important step for Taiwan “is to enhance the public’s awareness of friend and foe,” he said. “Without it, all other preparations are meaningless.”


That ambiguity is reflected in Taiwan’s political landscape, with some presidential candidates more willing to engage with China than others, potentially influencing the response to any future collision with Beijing.


Eric Heginbotham, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for International Studies and a specialist in Asian security issues, said that he “wouldn’t be shocked if Taiwan threw up its hands in the first days of a conflict,” especially if the US was not “visibly committed.” At the same time, he acknowledged that many similarly expected an early surrender in Ukraine that failed to materialize. Even leaving that aside, he said, the Taiwanese are “not well prepared psychologically or materially, and their training is not sufficiently realistic.”


It’s not just Taiwan. The pace of US preparation is “still inadequate to the scale of the challenge,” according to Bruce Jones, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. Deficiencies include stockpiling relevant munitions as well as readying the US public for “a deep crisis in the western Pacific” that could mean the significant loss of American lives.


Taiwan’s 2023 Defense Report says the threat is building. China is “expanding military capabilities at scale,” including constructing airfields along its eastern and southern coastline and stationing new fighters and drones there permanently to “seize air superiority in the event of war across the Taiwan Strait.” It’s just 8 minutes flying time from the closest airfield to Taipei, according to some estimates.


If those threats turned into action, Taiwan’s strategy is to pre-emptively strike the mobilizing invasion forces, then use its geographical advantage to attack its enemy during the most vulnerable phase of crossing the strait, according to the Defense Report.


Capabilities are another matter, though.


Wellington Koo, the head of Taiwan’s National Security Council, points to a reform of defense policy that means from 2024 the draft will be extended to a year, helping to provide “realistic training to enhance combat power.” Yet further steps are needed on overhauling the reserve system, on joint forces training by the army, navy and air force, and on strengthening “whole society resilience,” he said at a Nov. 13 briefing.


Building that resilience is the aim of annual exercises — this year’s scenario was a magnitude 6.9 earthquake striking the island’s main chipmaking hub in the northern city of Hsinchu — as well as simulated cyberattacks on key infrastructure such as the state water or oil company.


The goal is “to establish a mechanism and resilience that we can deal with no matter what kind of disaster, whether it’s war or natural disaster — we all need to deal with it,” Interior Minister Lin Yu-chang said in an interview.


That’s what Enoch Wu is working to advance. Wu founded Forward Alliance in 2020, a non-profit that provides emergency training with the ethos that citizens’ responses determine whether a society can come through crises. He sees Taiwan as “in a race against time” given Beijing’s clear sense of urgency. “We need to respond accordingly,” said Wu. “Given we’re on the front line, we need to do more.”


Forward Alliance instructors — serving firefighters and medical personnel — were at work on a recent November afternoon at a police department in New Taipei City, giving training on tactical emergency casualty care to officers. Taught how to use a tourniquet to stop bleeding and treating chest wounds, it seemed more suited to a war zone than an island where strict laws on ownership mean gun crime is rare.


For Lin, the interior minister, preparations are necessary for all eventualities. “Peace is important — no one wants to go to war,” he said. “But Taiwan is a society facing lots of risks.”


--With assistance from Jennifer Creery.


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習拜會中的「兩岸關係」話題 - Tom Porter
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Xi straight-up told Biden that China is going to take over Taiwan, report says. It could end in war.

, 12/20/23

*  Chinese leader Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden China intended to rule Taiwan, NBC News reported.
The conversation took place on the fringes of the Apec summit in November.
Tensions are increasing between China and Taiwan ahead of the election.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping told President Joe Biden that China intended to take control of Taiwan in a face-to-face meeting last month, 
NBC News reported.

The report, citing three former and current US officials, said that the remarks were made during a meeting on the fringes of the Apec 
summit in San Francisco in November.

While official readouts of the meeting emphasized the common ground the leaders found on issues such as the climate crisis, the report indicated that long-standing tensions over the de facto autonomy of Taiwan also surfaced.

Xi bluntly asserted the Chinese right to rule Taiwan and said it would prefer to take it peacefully not by force, according to NBC.

The Chinese leader reportedly denied US intelligence claims that China 
intended to be ready to seize Taiwan by 2027, saying the timing had not been decided.

The report echoes details of the meeting 
reported by Japanese outlet Nikkei, which characterized Xi's remarks on Taiwan as an attempt to dial down tensions, emphasizing that China wasn't planning military action, but laying out the conditions under which it would attack.

The Chinese president is under pressure amid economic turmoil in China, and at the meeting sought to smooth ties with the US and American business leaders in a bid to secure investment.

China has long asserted its right to rule Taiwan, which claimed its independence from China's communist government after the civil war in the 1940s.

In recent speeches, Xi has menaced Taiwan with the prospect of invasion, and US officials are increasingly concerned that Xi is planning on seizing control of Taiwan by force.

Biden has said that the US would come to the defense of Taiwan if it's attacked, though the remarks were modified by the White House.

The US has long maintained a position of "strategic ambiguity" on Taiwan, acknowledging Chinese claims to rule the territory yet hinting that it could defend Taiwan's right to self-governance if it's attacked.

Tensions have been increasing between Taiwan and the mainland in the run-up to Taiwan's elections next month.


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中國攻台五大戰略 ------ Hal Brands
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(請見參考本欄上一篇對此文的評論)

How Would China Take Over Taiwan? One of These 5 Strategies

Hal Brands, 11/05/23

While conflicts in Ukraine and Israel have dominated the world’s attention, this year has been relatively quiet in the Taiwan Strait. Next year may not be.

Taiwan is fast approaching its next presidential election, in January 2024. Once that vote is over, Beijing may try to discipline Taiwan’s new government by demonstrating how formidable Chinese power — military and otherwise — is. And as the chances of another crisis in the strait increase, so will the world’s attention to the prospect of conflict there.

The last such crisis, in August 2022, convinced many observers that Chinese leader Xi Jinping was set on bringing Taiwan to heel. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns 
reported that Xi had ordered his People’s Liberation Army to be ready for action by 2027. Provocative PLA exercises showed off many of the tools needed for an invasion or a blockade. All this set off a guessing game in Washington about when the climactic fight for Taiwan might come. But just as important as “when” and “whether” is “what”: If Xi does try to compel unification of the “renegade province,” what type of action might he take?

This isn’t a simple invade-or-don’t-invade binary. China has at least five possible strategies for squeezing and perhaps subjugating Taiwan. They range from what is already happening today — systematic, short-of-war coercion — to a full-on invasion, with options including blockade, bombardment and small seizures of Taiwanese territory in between.

There is a vigorous, if quiet, debate in US national security circles about which path Xi might take, and how Washington and Taipei might respond. Just as important, though, unpacking these possibilities illustrates the dilemmas each strategy poses for Beijing. The best chance for peace may lie in the fact that all of Xi’s options for taking Taiwan are shot through with risks and potentially fatal problems. The greatest risk of war, unfortunately, may come if the shortcomings of less-violent options push Xi toward the most brutal approach of all.

Xi’s preferred option is the one he’s pursuing 
right now: Coercion below the threshold of war. For years, the PLA has been ramping up aggressive activities — such as flying into Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone and barreling across the center line of the strait — designed to exhaust Taiwan’s military, reduce its physical space and create a sense that the island is unable to defend itself. Disinformation, cyberattacks and efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically round out this campaign.

In this sense, the fight for Taiwan is happening every day. Exert unyielding, intensifying pressure, the thinking goes, and Taiwan’s population will see the inevitability of unification with Beijing.

Coerced but peaceful unification is Xi’s preferred option because he knows what existential dangers war can bring. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is a warning that violent conquest can backfire catastrophically. In the South China Sea, by contrast, China has 
surged to supremacy by using coercive but mostly nonviolent tactics — such as building artificial islands that serve as military bases — to shift the status quo.

Xi would surely 
love to “win without fighting” in the Taiwan Strait, as well. The trouble is that this strategy isn’t working. Its effect on Taiwanese politics has been perverse: Over the past decade, Chinese pressure has undermined the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party, or KMT, and empowered the more hawkish, independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party.

Support for unification among the Taiwanese populace is vanishingly small, especially since Xi’s ruthless crackdown in Hong Kong in 2019. At the same time, a distinctive sense of Taiwanese identify is growing stronger, not just among DPP voters but among the population as a whole. And if Xi hopes to peel international support away from Taiwan, his tactics are doing the reverse: The US is increasing arms sales, expanding high-level visits and otherwise doubling down in its relationship with Taipei.

If DPP candidate Lai Ching-te wins the 2024 elections — he 
currently leads in a fractured field — and delivers the party its third straight presidential term, Xi would have to ask whether coercion without war has failed. Even if the KMT or another contender triumphs, Xi may find that the center of gravity in Taiwanese politics has shifted, in ways that make peaceful unification most unlikely. Sooner or later, he might consider more escalatory options, like seizing one of Taiwan’s offshore islands.

Taiwan isn’t one island. It is a collection of islands, some of which are within swimming distance of the mainland. During the 1950s, Mao Zedong’s forces shelled two of those islands, Kinmen and Matsu, triggering crises with the US. Mao backed down, and the islands are still under Taipei’s control. But they — and their 140,000 residents — probably aren’t
defensible if the PLA attacks, perhaps by using subterfuge such as a supposed humanitarian crisis to put its forces ashore.

At first glance, this strategy seems devilishly clever. It would force Taiwan to decide between committing, and probably losing, much of its military in a futile effort to save the offshore islands, and watching as a slice of its territory is swallowed by Beijing.

This geopolitical microaggression would also wrong-foot Washington: The US could either fight China over some strategically meaningless specks or see its willingness to protect Taiwan’s security called into question. Taking an offshore island or two would thus demonstrate China’s military dominance while creating hard choices and perhaps dissension for its enemies.

But how smart, really, is a strategy that requires Beijing to use force — thereby crossing a fateful threshold — without delivering decisive results? After all, taking an offshore island wouldn’t give Beijing control of Taiwan.

Such naked territorial aggression might, however, turbocharge Taiwan’s sluggish defense 
reforms, catalyze a more formal anti-China alliance in the region, and convince the US to issue clearer commitments to defend Taiwan’s remaining islands. It might even lead Washington to station US forces on Formosa, the main island, making a future Chinese invasion vastly more complicated.

An island seizure would humiliate Taiwan, but wouldn’t defeat it. It could turn out to be a small step that makes every subsequent step harder to take.

A third option would be the 
blockade. In this scenario, Xi would seize upon some pretext to cut Taiwan off from the outside world.

A blockade could consist of anything from a full-bore physical quarantine, enforced by warships and military aircraft, to aggressive “customs inspections” of ships trying to access Taiwan, combined with missile tests that scare off maritime traffic by splashing down outside Taiwan’s ports. It might be accompanied by cyberattacks on financial institutions and other economic infrastructure. A blockade could be tight or deliberately leaky; it could be short, if intended as a warning of unpleasant things to come, or long, if meant to destroy Taiwan’s economy, starve its population and force its surrender.

The blockade scenario is 
commanding attention in US national security circles, for good reason. Unlike an island seizure, the encirclement approach wouldn’t necessarily require China to fire the first shot, at least in theory. But it could make life extremely precarious for Taiwan, which depends on imported food, fuel and other essentials. The democratic world would probably respond with harsh sanctions on China, but Taipei might crack before Beijing does. A blockade would exploit Taiwan’s fundamental geographic vulnerability — its isolation — and perhaps compel its people to accept unification as the price of survival.

But the blockade isn’t some magic weapon. There’s no guarantee economic deprivation will make Taiwan capitulate: Historically, blockades have rarely caused enemies to surrender, unless combined with other ferocious pressures. Even in the best-case scenario, a blockade would take time to work, which would give Washington and its allies time to organize a response.

The US would probably probably flood the Western Pacific with attack submarines and otherwise position its forces exactly as it would want them arrayed if war broke out. The US military could then try to break the blockade by sailing and flying supplies into Taiwan — as hard as that would be across the vast distances of the Western Pacific — effectively daring Beijing to interfere. In other words, enforcing a blockade might still require China to fire the first shot, and thereby start a war its enemies have readied themselves to fight.

If a blockade isn’t sufficient, China might choose a fourth optionbombardment. Blasting Taiwan with bombs and ballistic missiles could help intensify the effects of a blockade by 
destroying road networks that connect Taiwan’s most accessible ports to its most important cities. It could wreck Taiwan’s navy and air force. At its most ambitious, a bombardment campaign would aim to coerce unification by breaking the will of the population — a modern-day version of Germany’s World War II blitz.

Bombardment makes sense if one thinks Taiwan’s fundamental weakness is lack of will to fight. In a place where mandatory military service is 
unpopular and defense spending is rising but inadequate, perhaps the population would knuckle under rather than endure persistent terror from above.

A bombardment campaign would feature some of China’s most formidable advantages, such as the world’s 
largest ground-based missile force, while avoiding the massive complexity of an amphibious invasion. So long as Beijing didn’t begin this campaign by also hitting US bases in the Western Pacific, it would force Washington to decide whether to intervene on behalf of a friend that might not hold out.

Still, uncertainties abound. Even if a bombing campaign destroys many targets, there’s no assurance that military punishment will yield the political objective Xi seeks: Convincing the government and populace of Taiwan to surrender to Beijing. Previous bombing campaigns have sometimes hardened the will to resist an aggressor: That’s what ultimately happened when the Luftwaffe 
bombed Britain.

And if any bombardment campaign doesn’t succeed quickly, its risks dramatically increase: The longer Beijing is pounding Taiwan and killing its people, the more international outrage it will generate, and the greater the chance of intervention by America and other states. If China seeks a truly decisive outcome, it may have to consider a more drastic, comprehensive assault.

The fifth and final option is the nightmare scenario. A full-scale
invasion would likely begin with a massive airstrike against Taiwan’s armed forces and critical infrastructure, coupled with sabotage and attempts to assassinate its leadership. The PLA would then try to seize beaches, ports and airfields, using them to ferry in the troops and supplies necessary to conquer the island. Xi’s navy would seek to isolate Taiwan from foreign interference or support.

Along the way, China might 
hammer US forces with surprise missile attacks on American bases in Guam and Japan, and on aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific. Or perhaps it would use the threat of nuclear escalation to deter Washington from getting involved.

The attraction of this approach is its directness. There would be no waiting for a blockade to slowly squeeze the life out of Taiwan’s economy. China would exploit speed, brutality and proximity to resolve the Taiwan question before anyone could get in the way. It would then confront America and the world with a fait accompli that would be horribly bloody to reverse.

It’s a mistake to think that Xi would never try something so shocking. China has a long 
tradition of starting its wars with surprise attacks, as US forces discovered in Korea in 1950 and the Vietnamese learned in 1979. Chinese military doctrine places a premium on rapid, overwhelming assaults. And if China is motivated enough to use force against Taiwan, it might be motivated enough to use force as decisively as possible.

But still, the dangers would be enormous. Taiwan has mountains, jungles, cities and other terrain favorable to defense. It is protected by more than 100 miles of rough, hard-to-cross water.

An invasion would probably require air- or sea-lifting more than 100,000 troops onto hostile territory, while controlling the air and water around Taiwan — a 
military operation as impressive as any in history. It might well trigger intervention by the US, Japan and other countries; even if the invasion succeeded, it would devastate the very territory China seeks to control. And this approach, like any use of force, confronts Beijing with an awful dilemma.

China would have to make an epoch-defining choice on day one of any invasion attempt: whether to attack US forces in the region. If Beijing didn’t do so, its ships and troops would be sitting ducks for US airpower and sea power if Washington opted to get directly involved. But if China did attack US forces, killing hundreds or thousands of Americans, it has probably started a war with a vengeful superpower — one that risks destroying the mighty, ascendant China Xi means to create.

To be clear, there is no evidence Xi has decided to escalate the confrontation with Taiwan, even though he clearly 
wants the ability to do so. If Beijing tries to squeeze Taiwan tighter in 2024 or after, it might just redouble its coercion short of war, through military exercises, economic warfare and other means.

In practice, moreover, Xi’s five options would blend together. An invasion would be accompanied by bombardment and blockade. Likewise, one advantage of intensifying peacetime military activities near Taiwan is to make it harder for Washington and Taipei to determine when Beijing is actually preparing for war. Nonetheless, breaking out the different options is helpful in understanding the many varied ways China can give Taiwan a hard time — as well as why Beijing might think twice about any of them.

None of China’s options are ideal, or close to it. Coercion short of war may not work, if current results are any guide. Options like an island seizure or blockade require step-changes in Chinese aggression with no guarantee of strategic success. An attempt to conquer Taiwan brings risks ranging from military defeat — never a good look for a dictator — to World War III.

If Taiwan, the US and their friends can keep the price of aggression high, while also reassuring Beijing that inaction won’t simply result in Taiwanese independence — which no Chinese government can accept — perhaps Xi will decide that tolerating an awkward status quo isn’t as costly as changing it.

Or perhaps not. Xi may not be willing to live indefinitely with a status quo he probably considers unjust, even insulting, to a China that he feels is reclaiming its proper place atop Asia and the world. He doesn’t seem to understand how his own 
actions have undermined the status quo by promoting the anti-China turn in Taiwan’s politics and strengthening the US-led alliances Beijing purports to fear.

Xi’s country is rapidly developing the military strengths that might allow it to resolve the Taiwan question by force. “Whatever its actual intentions may be I could not say, but China is preparing for a war and specifically for a war with the United States,” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall
recently said. And if Xi elects to force the issue, the weaknesses of options like blockade or island-seizure could push him toward more severe, violent methods that offer — at least in theory — decisive results.

Such a decision could have baleful consequences for China and the world. But history is littered with wars that their instigators came to regret. The US and its friends need to be 
ready for all the courses Xi might pursue — especially the one whose effects would be most catastrophic.

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胡卜凱

0.  前言

布蘭德
教授這篇文章提出:中國可能採取的五個「解放台灣」戰略(請見本欄第三篇文章)。他對每個戰略的優勢、困難度、和可行性等做了分析。大致來說,他的觀點有一定的深度和可參考性;並非完全不靠譜的泛泛之談。當然,該文也免不了大多數外國學者談中國議題時,常有的膚淺和自以為是。

本文第一節只譯述布蘭德教授的五個戰略;請自行閱讀他的高見。第二、三兩節對我以上評論略做補充和申論。

1. 
全文要點

戰略1 – 「恐嚇和打壓」
戰略2 – 「佔據外島」
戰略3 --  「封鎖」
戰略4 --  「轟炸空襲」
戰略5 --  「大軍壓境」::

2. 
評論

當中、美在台海的軍力是五五波的情況下,「戰略1」和「戰略2」沒有達到「解放台灣」的能量;我就不予置評。

但我想指出:布蘭德教授在討論「戰略1」的脈絡中,所謂Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party” 一語,不是霧裡看花,就是惡意「戴紅帽子」。國民黨和民進黨在兩岸政策上並沒有本質上的不同;兩者都是準漢奸集團。文宣言詞上的不同在於:

a) 
兩黨的基本盤不同;出台亮相的打扮自然有異。
b) 
國民黨領袖群無恥的程度略低;知道做人不宜太讓人噁心。

戰略3 -- 「封鎖」

我認為布蘭德教授所說的:but Taipei might crack before Beijing does” 有點輕描淡寫。如果美、歐各國拿不出個解套方法,「封鎖」維持到六個月以上,台灣老百姓不一定能接受「統一」;但很可能不得不接受「一國兩制」。我做這個判斷的理由下面會提到。

戰略4 -- 「轟炸空襲」

我希望,也相信中國政府不會出此下策。因為,「台灣議題」不需要用這種造成傷亡的極端手段來解決。

另一方面,這是該文作者提出五個「戰略」中最具「成本效益」的一個。理由很簡單:

a) 
「轟炸空襲」免不了傷亡,但可以不造成大規模傷亡。以目前飛彈導航技術的精準度,中國空軍和火箭部隊可以定時、定點催毀海港,電信設施,公路、鐵路,以及水、火力發電廠。美國軍事評論家早就對這類非軍事目標戰術做過分析。它們並非我的獨到見解
b) 
台灣老百姓養尊處優了50多年;正如布蘭德教授所擔心的,90%以上的台灣同胞鐵定 lack of will to fight” ,也絕對經不起以上戰術所導致的折騰。「封鎖」需要到六個月以上才可能見效,「轟炸空襲」大概頂多一個月後就會讓整個台灣社會崩盤。

戰略5 -- 「大軍壓境」

我希望,也相信中國政府不會如此愚蠢和盲動。

我說過,解決「台灣議題」毫無急迫性。中國只需等到軍力在台海(不是全球)略勝美國一籌,美國政府將不得不退出西太平洋;就跟她退出越南、伊拉克、和阿富汗一樣。畢竟,美國的「核心利益」在於歐洲和以色列;不在亞太與台灣海峽。

3.  結論

1) 
布蘭德教授提出的五大戰略中,我認為:在目前只有「封鎖」和「轟炸空襲」兼具「可行性」和「成功性」。

2) 
布蘭德教授和絕大多數其他外籍學者一樣,在兩岸關係議題上都有不同程度(心理上的)認知偏差(認知能力上的)認知扭曲、或「選擇性無知(該欄第23兩文)。我指的是,這些人不知道或故意裝做不知道:兩岸老百姓不但同文化、同祖先、同語言;加上近二三十年的交流旅遊、工作、上學等經驗;早已使得人民之間沒有什麼隔閡。意願上當然仍對「統一」或「一國兩制」興趣缺缺(包括在下、區區、老夫、我);這也是目前民調所顯示的狀況但當生活面臨窘境或生命受到威脅時,中國幾千年文化所浸潤出來的「好死不如賴活」精神,必然發揮得淋漓盡致。第一群跪地求饒的台籍菁英,興許就是多年來靠欺騙老百姓而得以吃香喝辣的民進黨高層和綠營援嘴們。



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