Wednesday 1 September 2021

Can China avoid the Taiwan gambit?

 I am back, after sometime away in a country that makes the UK feel very cheap indeed. 

Watching the Afghan disaster from afar, as we all did, I could not help but see the Chinese rush in behind, like the fools they are, thinking that for them it will be different. As different, as it was for the Americans from the Russians, is the predictable outcome. The Chinese have invaded with money at least, rather than weapons, but it will soon be frittered on corruption, just like home for them.

However, as much as the US did need to back out of the Country, the cack-handed way it has been done has created a new post-Vietnam environment. For a good decade or more after Vietnam, the US was very isolationist and not very interested in policing the world. Reagan made do with an arms race against the Ruskies which he won at a canter, but involved no hot war at all. Only a little bit of hanky panky in Iran and Iraq was allowed, to keep the hawks busy.

Now Biden has really shaken the game, by ending it. The US is engaged nowhere in the world, certainly not Africa and won't be going into the Middle East anytime soon, save for some face-saving drone strikes against ISIS when it can find them. 

Meanwhile, in the economic world, the huge shortage of silicon chips continues to drag on the economy and push up prices everywhere. UK car sales have cratered, as there are a lack of vehicles to sell, just as the second hand market has taken off. Computer abusers have not had new gaming or mining chips for nearly 2 years - unheard of. 

Over 50% of the world's production sits in Taiwan. Just off the coast of China, a boat ride away. Taking this over would give a hug short-term boost to China, just taking the factories off line for a few weeks would wreak more havoc on the West to go with the Virus they gave us. 

President Xi must be very tempted by this play. The US has no appetite for hot wars and would be a huge risk trying to defend Taiwan. China, with good planning, could do a Crimea and present it as a fait accomplit, welcomed by a new puppet Government etc. 

China will do this one day, today is an opportune time as the adversary is weak and distracted and led by a senile and unpopular President. It could well be now. There are risks of course, the untested PLA could prove a disaster and the whole escapade resemble more the Bay of Pigs than Crimea, this will weigh in the thoughts of the Politburo who are very conservative, so we shall see in the near future how they fall. 


Anonymous said...

Absolutely this.

AndrewZ said...

If China attacks Taiwan then Biden will face enormous pressure from his own party to respond strongly to avoid another election-losing humiliation. His obvious senility also makes it hard for the Chinese leadership to predict how he would react, especially if they are not sure who (if anybody) is actually in charge. They might still go for it, but they will probably be more cautious and stage a few provocations to test how the administration reacts first.

AndrewZ said...

How could China "do a Crimea"? Russian forces infiltrated Crimea through a poorly-defended border. I don't see how China could do something similar across a hundred miles of sea, against an enemy that must be on high alert at the moment.

jim said...

Been out East Mr Drew?

If I were Xi I would not bother my head over Taiwan. The Yanks are investing heavily in fab plants back home and the Chinese also plan a big spend on multiple fab plants. Not trivial money at $15-20Bn a pop and a longish lead time. And the S Koreans are doing likewise. So within a few years (just after 2024's Trump revival concert) Taiwan will not be quite so vital.

Then any fool can pitch up on a beach with a gun and any fool can chuck a few bombs. But a semiconductor plant is a delicate thing. Shake it around or spread some dust around and it is useless for months. If I were Xi I would bide my time and concentrate on dominating AI. Plenty of time in the next century or two to deal with Taiwan.

A local chap used to commute to a nearby biz park, design chips and send designs to Singapore. Prototypes were sent to France for CE approvals and the big production kicked off in Taiwan. Product shipped to China for building into phones/laptops etc etc. That chap & office moved to Belgium just before Brexit.

Maybe Biden can dust off Star Wars, everyone knew it wouldn't work but it shut the hawks up for a while and shook up the Ruskys a bit. Maybe this time we'll really get a light sabre.

jim said...

Oops, Out East - CU.

dearieme said...

A good time to buy land in The Wakhan Corridor?

Taiwan will be invaded when it is in President Xi's interest, or in the interest of a successor.

Would the US risk its navy in an attempt to stop it? What else is a navy for? But if you won't risk it it's useless. If you do risk it it will be sunk because surface ships are obsolete.

If I were Xi I'd be wondering whether all I need do is mine Taiwan's ports and await its surrender. That would involve little risk, especially since US minesweeper capacity is at its traditional level, virtually nil.

dearieme said...

The main risk for China is that Biden is so senile he forgets which bribes he's accepted.

CityUnslicker said...

excellent Jim - stuff I did not know. But with Rare Earths and Semi-conductors tied up for a while, China would be in a strong short-term position indeed.

As for a Crimea style takeover, who is to say bribes, corruption and a fifth column could not be found. After all Ukraine discovered this a little late in the day too....

Don Cox said...

Everything that can happen will happen in one future or another.

Don Cox

CityUnslicker said...

very unlikely Don, the way Space-time is constructed the future and the past already exist so there is only one timeline possible....

Don Cox said...

I think you will find that quantum physics makes a multiverse inevitable. You might say that all possible futures exist, but then what does "exist" mean ?

The future(s) and the past are certainly not the same.