• 26 November, 2022
Foreign Affairs. Geopolitics. National Security.
MENU

China’s Invasion of Taiwan – Opportunity for India

Cdr Sandeep Dhawan (Retd) Fri, 04 Feb 2022   |  Reading Time: 7 minutes

Today China has over 350 ships and submarines (130 major surface components), numerically making it the largest Navy globally. These extraordinary Chinese naval expansions are not there to recreate the 15th century goodwill voyages of Admiral Zheng He. China has bigger ambitions, and Taiwan is part of that ambition. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) places Taiwan as a ‘sacred territory’ of China. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) gives rise to nationalism to cement its position. “One China, One Truth, One World, One Dream” is CCP’s slogan.

Importance of Taiwan

If we leave aside the mouth-watering economic and technological proposition Taiwan presents to China, militarily, it is a crucial link in the Chinese maritime strategy. Even US General Douglas MacArthur had called Taiwan the unsinkable aircraft carrier and submarine tender during the Korean war.

Taiwan is ideally located to successfully accomplish any offensive action and at the same time checkmate defensive or counteroffensive operations by the US forces based on Okinawa and the Philippines. The Luzon Strait, connecting the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, is crucial to PLAN. Securing the first island chain would give enlarged maritime defense depth to PLAN. Therefore, securing Taiwan under the Chinese jurisdiction has become highly relevant and vital for CCP.

Taiwan also presents another problem for CCP. It offers an alternate and successful system. Both China and Taiwan started their journey together. However, despite limited resources, today, Taiwan has achieved per capita income three times the Chinese income. The very existence of Taiwan destroys China’s claim to be a very successful model and threatens Xi Jinping’s lifetime Presidency dream.

A step towards fulfilling that personal dream was taken on 23 January 2022 when the Chinese Air Force flew 39 warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ). This is the second biggest incursion since October 2021. One of these days, one of these incursions would not be just an incursion, but an actual invasion. CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping knows that any war, big or small, would be disastrous for China. But in his desperation to remain in power, he may do the unthinkable — invade Taiwan.

The Xi Jinping Team

A leader can have two types of teams — a good one or a faithful one. Of course, there is no guarantee that the good team will be faithful too. Xi Jinping has taken the second option and surrounded himself with the yes-men.

Politburo Standing Committee members Wang Huning survived two decades and was court philosopher to three of China’s top leaders. He penned Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents” and Hu Jintao’s “Harmonious Society.” He was behind Xi’s political concepts — the “China Dream,” the anti-corruption campaign, the Belt and Road Initiative, “Xi Jinping Thought,” and the latest “Common Prosperity.” However, slowly and steadily, he is being replaced. The first jolt came when Jiang Jinquan replaced him to run Central Policy Research Office (CPRO), the Chinese Communist Party’s top think tank. Xi feels that Huning’s methods are acceptable domestically, but internationally, his methods are not producing results fast enough.

Vice-President Wang Qishan is a personal friend of Xi. The heads of the CCP International Liaison and United Front Work Department’s Song Tao and You Qian have had a long association with Xi from his Fujian governor days.

Xi has also been on the promotion spree. Since 2012 he has promoted 67 officers to the rank of General. In January, Xi Jinping promoted seven military and armed police officers to the rank of General. All these promotions are based on loyalty to Xi rather than high military calibre. Using an anti-corruption campaign, Xi has purged several high-ranking officers, including two former vice-chair of the Central Military Commission (CMC).

Something Is Amiss In PLA

The whole idea behind the Chinese military reforms was to have a force that could fight an information-based war. A modern Chinese General is expected to not just know the functioning of the army, navy, and air force, but also space, rockets force, information-based operations, and electronic warfare. Unfortunately, Xi can’t find qualified leaders for fighting a modern war. The young officers with modern warfare knowledge are not eligible for promotion and have no combat experience. The older generation is not familiar with modern concepts and had barely started their military career when China fought its last war.

Xi Jinping doesn’t trust the existing military bosses. His nervousness is visible in the frequent replacement of senior officers at various vital posts, especially bordering India. Therefore, Xi is left with only one option. Keep the key posts occupied by reliable officers rather than eligible.

The Unfinished Business For India

China continues to occupy India’s 15,000 square miles of land in Aksai Chin. The Chinese misadventure of invading Taiwan would present an ideal opportunity for India to finish that unfinished business.

The Chinese invasion of Taiwan will tilt the force balance in India’s favour in the Himalayas. The total available Indian Army strike forces near China’s border is around 2,25,000. The Chinese Military Districts of Tibet have 40,000 and Xinjiang 70,000 troops. The Chinese Western Theatre Command (WTC) has an estimated 90,000-1,20,000 troops, mainly at Chongqing and Baoji. In the event of an invasion of Taiwan, the Chinese commanders would be reluctant to spare them for Tibet.

The Chinese Western Theatre Command is far away from the Military District of Tibet and Xinjiang: Insightful Geopolitics

The IAF’s strategic air lifters include the C-17 and C-130J. They, along with IL-76, AN-32, and Do 228 transport aircraft, will ensure rapid transfer of equipment and supplies, further enhancing the Indian Army’s force level. The PLAAF’s smaller fleet of strategic airlift assets, Y-20 and IL-76 aircraft, would be hard-pressed to meet the Taiwan invasion requirements in the South and the East China Sea.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has double the number of fighters already on the bases facing China. These fighters are either comparable or superior to Chinese fighters.

Compared to the Indian Air Bases, the Chinese Air Bases are at much higher altitude and encounter adverse weather: Insightful Geopolitics

The Chinese airbases also suffer from higher altitude restrictions than IAF, which has all bases at lower altitudes. PLARF’s less than 1200 ballistic missiles in the region cannot keep even three Indian airfields completely shut for more than two days.

Exploiting PLA Loopholes

From the preceding, it is clear that India is in an advantageous position. Along with that, during a wartime scenario, there are plenty of other vulnerabilities that Chinese forces present to the Indian armed forces to exploit. Some of the vulnerabilities are:

  • It has been six years, and PLA has had difficulty integrating jointness into the forces. The services are at each other’s throats giving rise to rivalry. The army still feels that it is the superior force, although it doesn’t resonate with the country’s vision.
  • PLA doesn’t have a “unified information technology system standard.” This makes technologies among the services incompatible, resulting in poor interoperability.
  • Scrutiny of the Chinese exercises indicates that the commanders and officer cadres have a poor understanding of battle concepts and central leadership’s goals. They are lacking in decision-making, troop deployment, and handling emergencies.
  • The political leadership and the technocrats are pushing the concept of “intelligentization of warfare.” In a typical communist manner, even though the concept is little understood by most, no one has the guts to admit it. It is supposedly based entirely on advanced technologies; however, there is almost negligible or no discussion about potential risks and their mitigation.
  • Most systems and concepts being designed are Artificial Intelligence (AI) dependent. However, there is no debate on the effects of electronic warfare attacks from an adversary that could severely hamper the PLA’s command and control over its forces.
  • AI systems are neither artificial nor intelligent. The whole concept will have imprints of limitations of its designer. The chaotic combat situations would throw unexpected challenges at the autonomous systems, overwhelming them with situations they have never encountered.
  • Operational commanders are going to be advised by advanced algorithms. The campaign objectives would be achieved by intelligent swarms of autonomous battle systems. This intelligentization would require highly centralized decision-making structures. This will consolidate command responsibility onto a few generals. The whole thinking is not in sync with the latest and better concept of decision-centric warfare.
  • These concepts and systems heavily depend upon Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS). Beidou has shortfalls, and if they are exploited effectively, they can damage the Chinese informationized warfare severely:
    • Beidou is heavily dependent on the ground control centres. If the ground centres are destroyed, BDS is out. GPS doesn’t have this limitation. China is trying to overcome this lacuna in the system by data linking the satellites and enhancing their survivability.
    • Beidou satellites and users have to use two-way communication, limiting its capacity. Whereas GPS user only needs to receive signals from the satellites.
    • Beidou has a narrower frequency band compared to GPS.
    • GPS is accurate to the centimetres. BDS offers 2-3.6 metres in Indo-Pacific and other parts of the world, 10 metres. PLA supposedly gets 0.4-metre accuracy.
    • A doctorate student, Gao Xingxin, from Stanford University, had cracked the BDS civilian code.
  • In the end, even today, it boils down to the man behind the machine. For over four decades, Chinese armed forces have not fought a single war. The PLA commanders are inexperienced, and their supposedly advanced technological capabilities have never been tested in real combat situations. Heart to heart, PLA knows, playing red force and blue force on the computer is one thing, but in the real world, you can’t buy second life with bonus points.

The Final Word

PLA has made itself ten feet tall with the procurement (stealing) of modern hardware, long-range missiles, stealthier aircraft, modern and capable ships. However, that is not sufficient. Artificial Intelligence has its place and importance in future wars, but the man behind the machine is not ready.

At the same time, India doesn’t have much time either. China is enhancing its production capacity of supposedly fifth-generation and stealth fighter J-20. It is also surrounding India. It has started with positioning four advanced Type 054AP frigates, eight Type 039B submarines, and 25 J-10C in Pakistan, under the garb of sale. It also plans to sell them DF-17 hypersonic missiles. China may follow through with the same strategy in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in the coming years.

Therefore, if China makes the mistake of invading Taiwan, India should not make the mistake of restraint and non-interference. Every Indian military exercise should have a scenario presented and practiced where Indian forces invade China. After all, it could be an opportunity of the millennia, and India doesn’t have the luxury to miss it.

“Opportunities do not build doors; we have to build doors so that opportunities knock.” — Insightful Geopolitics

*********************


Author
A veteran of the Indian Navy, Cdr Dhawan served in the Navy from 1988 to 2009. He was a Maritime Reconnaissance Pilot and a Flying Instructor. He is a geopolitical analyst and writes for various online websites and organizations.

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Chanakya Forum. All information provided in this article including timeliness, completeness, accuracy, suitability or validity of information referenced therein, is the sole responsibility of the author. www.chanakyaforum.com does not assume any responsibility for the same.


Chanakya Forum is now on . Click here to join our channel (@ChanakyaForum) and stay updated with the latest headlines and articles.

Important

We work round the clock to bring you the finest articles and updates from around the world. There is a team that works tirelessly to ensure that you have a seamless reading experience. But all this costs money. Please support us so that we keep doing what we do best. Happy Reading

Support Us
Or
9289230333
Or

POST COMMENTS (33)

Isaac

Mar 24, 2022
When we are ready to reclaim Taiwan, we surely will consider US, Japan and India as interference. You guys think Taiwan is an opportunity for you to invade Tibet and see what will really happen, it's our opportunity to reclaim 藏南 indeed

Pradeep Mehta

Feb 14, 2022
Yes

Raj Pargat Singh

Feb 09, 2022
In 1965 and 1971 wars, China didn’t interfere even on behest of pak and Usa. If we study two front war, it is fair to assume that China must be undertaking such scenario building. Retaking large size of area and keeping it calls for a much large and well equipped force. Small belt of Baghdad and Chakothi we are unable to take. Even Hazipir was given back on table which was won twice with grit and blood. However, the suggestion on planning and training on offensive thrusts is a must and should be undertaken with a syndicate each of def, fin and ext affairs ministries.

Pradeep Sharan

Feb 08, 2022
A thought whose time has come. Again well analysed, thought-through and reasonable., Sandeep. It’s another matter whether our country can ever acquire this type of opportunity-grabbing psyche.

Narinder Pal Singh Hora

Feb 08, 2022
As usual, a great insight, Sandeep. However, to expect India to take the first step to war seems very far fetched. Our mind set, politics doesn't make us that daring. But times change and so does the thinking. Hope Indian political masters take cognisance of scenario explained in your article and put the best foot forward.

Judithann Campbell

Feb 08, 2022
Thank you again, Commander Dhawan, for another great article! As an American, I have no faith whatsoever in the Biden Administration to deal with China. Sad to think that this scenario could have been avoided.

Shamik

Feb 08, 2022
Inside should make a NATO like pact with Taiwan or something like with Bhutan. Attack on one means attack on all and all should get ready to defence and offensive.

Sukhjit singh

Feb 07, 2022
A very good idea, but the question is do we have the political and military will to do it

Ujagar Singh

Feb 06, 2022
China will willy nilly invade Taiwan in the not too distant future. It has made all the plans and has weighed pros and cons. This is also due to the fact that Xi wants to consolidate his power and retain it for some more years. How does India react? The author has made a case that India must avail the opportunity and secure Aksai Chin.Yes, it is a life time opportunity. Now or never. It is also better to gear up Tibeten issue with Dalai Lama and convince him to declare complete independence, with India immediately recognizing it. This also means the Indian armed forces have to train to get deeper into Tibetan region as it will definitely not be possible or strategically advisable to just limit securing of Aksai Chin.

Kalidan Singh

Feb 06, 2022
Whether China invades Taiwan or not, I am not convinced that it represents any opportunity for us. Our strength is our people fighting for India. Our weakness is the vast, corrupt bureaucracy that will ensure that arms, equipment, clothing, food, and most importantly - ammunition - will not reach our boys fighting at that altitude. Getting petrol, ammunition, food - and a large scale logistic operation for a war, seems not as likely as we think. Our boys don't have proper shoes, or protective gear in that sub zero tundra. Chinese are living in heated housing, our people are living in tents. They have a road, and an air corridor. We don't have that advantage. Our tanks don't have shells, our boys don't have bullets (they have resorted at times to fight with their fists - and I am very very proud and beholden to these great men). Caution is advised, jingoism and hubris is not. Our biggest enemies are our culture of corruption in the military-supply complex, our vast bureaucracy that exists to make money for themselves.

Dhirender Gaur

Feb 06, 2022
If China nevertheless decides to use force, the consequences for Taiwan will be dire. Things could be almost as bad for the region and for India, especially if China succeeds. It would mean that any effort to build a balance of power in Asia would be severely impacted.

Raghavan

Feb 06, 2022
An idea whose time has come. Thanks for a wonderful article. Has China has played its cards a little too early. Xi's impatience is clearly showing.The article clearly brings out that all the propaganda and bluster apart, the Chinese military wouldn't stand a chance against a Western led coalition. Opening a second front by India is a scenario which our strategic community should actively and publicly debate. Till now most discussions and debates by think tanks are based on worst case scenario of 1 and a half front war where it assumes a defensive posture in the north and offensive in the west.

TP MADHU

Feb 05, 2022
For India to take advantage , we need to substantially augment our border infrastructure. For the present, China is at an advantageous position. As you have said, we have limited time..

Raghavan

Feb 05, 2022
An idea whose time has come. Thanks for a wonderful article. In fact in informal discussions on friendly fora I have articulated that China has played its cards a little too early. The article clearly brings out that all the propaganda and bluster apart, the Chinese military wouldn't stand a chance against a mu Westei led coalition.

vikram

Feb 05, 2022
Do we have the political will to start a war/invade them when they invade Taiwan? Well researched article, awesome.

WingCo Mats

Feb 05, 2022
As always, very well researched and thought out. However: To be prepared to defend is one thing, To anticipate and react appropriately and in time is another. But to prepare for what you foresee (if at all you do, at places/by people who are in control) and seize the opportunity while having been lying in wait for it....QUITE ANOTHER. Indeed a very pragmatic solution to a chronic problem inflicted upon us by an enemy well tried, tested and researched. But for those who lead us, to have the guts to ever 'offend' would entail 'breaking the mould'. Highly unlikely, although i wish they do it.

Maj A K Singh

Feb 05, 2022
If it is confirmed reduction if troops along India border, because if Taiwan expedition then it's certainly the right time to regain AksiChin. Let's confirm the mov out of Indian borders. Let's confirm the deployment eastwards.

Deovrat Pagay

Feb 05, 2022
China’s expansionist strategy will meet a stalemate. Their ambitious policy of controlling the world is unrealistic. China’s weapon systems and technology is not robust, HUMINT is another big issue. India needs to make amends in its strategic and diplomatic strategies. Becoming more assertive, outward looking and proactive. Sandeep brings out the reality accurately and correctly.

J

Feb 05, 2022
I always like reading your thorough analysis of a situation. WIll India and China start WWIII? That is yet to be determined.

JJ

Feb 05, 2022
Great analysis. Pretty interesting. Researched well.

RAMAKRISHNAN Venkat

Feb 05, 2022
An interesting analysis on opportunity available to India....Old saying of "Man behind the Machine matters Most" is proved here... Really amazing to read AI is neither artificial nor intelligent... Thank you

Aninda Mukherjee

Feb 05, 2022
Fascinating analysis. In-depth understanding of the issue reflected in the paper.

Wendell Bruges

Feb 05, 2022
Well, well, well, Commander, you amaze me every time. I am still trying to absorb the scenario you have painted here. Excellent analysis, very much plausible and doable.

Raman Gupta

Feb 05, 2022
Elaborate strategy. So ch pieces should at least trigger such thinking in the Indian eatablishment

Gp Capt TR Ravi VM (Ret'd)

Feb 05, 2022
Fantastic fact finding marking the vulnerabilities of Chinese might. I strongly that they will loose because of the men behind the 'stolen' arsenal. Should India pose offensive in Aksai Chin....deserves a more in depth Strategic consideration and Diplomatic standing with neighbouring countries and military allies. Great article, Sir. Bravo 👏👏

China’s Invasion of Taiwan – Opportunity for India - Insightful Geopolitics

Feb 05, 2022
[…] China’s Invasion of Taiwan – Opportunity for India […]

Shaily rawat

Feb 05, 2022
... well researched ... The quote that 'Do not stop the enemy while he's making a mistake' fits quite aptly here ... China needs to be led deeper into the false realm of superiority by engaging kore with the SE region n Taiwan so that it's forced to make this mistake of a campaign against Taiwan ... And present India with the much awaited opportunity ... ... At the same time with the Baloch region creating nightmares for Pakistan ... And TTP also becoming a thorn in the flesh ... India must up it's ante to activate these and such like elements to neutralise this so called Loan to Marine Equipment from China ... ... India needs to play both the Sited and Organised For Offence n Defence strategy in every possible sector ...

Raghu Vir Gauba

Feb 05, 2022
Excellent analysis .IMHO the cunning enemy doesn't behave as we want him to . We have to be prepared in case it tries to deal with us in collusion with Pak . In this situation , can we rely on our so called friends like USA, Russia etc ?

P Vinayagam

Feb 05, 2022
Yet another enlightening article by Cdr Sandeep. While the top brass in Indian Defence Forces and the Govt may not yet be ready to take advantage of the opportunity highlighted by the author due to obvious repercussions, hope they incorporate these periodic detailed insights on Chinese military by the author in their Chinese strategy

Vinod Shrikhande

Feb 05, 2022
A well thought article that presents a opportunistic scenario for India. A scenario that will need deep thinking and strategy by our political and Military leadership.

KD Singh

Feb 05, 2022
Excellent analysis. Must make good of the opportunity to take back what is ours

Joseph Mathew

Feb 05, 2022
One can't defend well without a well thought out offensive strategy. It is time we start considering the option of an offensive strategy vis a vis China and this article highlights the inherent weaknesses of the Chinese military that can be exploited by us. Will China invade Taiwan is a big question however. A military misadventure in Taiwan could have huge political consequences and expose the vulnerabilities of the Chinese military. They would rather resort to subverting the Taiwanese political system.

Shaurya Shandilya

Feb 05, 2022
Excellent Article! Truly insightful.

Leave a Comment