Is Beijing on Borrowed Time? Is the U.S.?

Is Beijing on Borrowed Time? Is the U.S.? By Richard Fernandez.

Will China Invade Taiwan? Despite the recent saber-rattling, probably not any time soon. It lacks the amphibious capacity to land the 30-plus brigades it will need to overcome the island’s defense. “China does not appear to be currently investing in the equipment likely required for a direct assault on Taiwan, such as large amphibious assault ships and medium landing craft necessary for a large beach assault.”

Beijing’s current naval build implies that the prerequisite for taking Taipei is neutralizing the U.S. navy. “China’s recent spate of military exercises and the PLA Navy’s focus on building large aircraft carriers, escort cruisers and amphibious transport dock (LPD) ships suggest the military, for now, is geared toward blue water naval operations and smaller expeditionary missions.”

In other words, the CCP thinks Washington must “fall” before Taipei can be stormed. That strategy could change, but not overnight. Since an invasion of Taiwan would have to be on the scale of Operation Overlord or Iceberg (the invasion of Okinawa) to overcome 22 defending brigades, the buildup could not easily be concealed, and there should be no surprises. Given this, conventional wisdom holds that China, rather than attempting a quick pounce, is executing a siege strategy, and will use so-called “gray zone” warfare to gradually encircle Taiwan. …

Not so fast:

There is a strategic shift. Looming large over the scene is the perception that China is becoming more dangerous because it is a declining power. As the American Enterprise Institute put it, based on a recent piece in Foreign Policy, “The United States needs to prepare for a major war, not because its rival is rising but because of the opposite.”

If China is actually declining, not only economically but demographically, then it doesn’t have the time to strangle Taiwan before itself collapsing. Taiwan becomes a problem of Now or Never for Beijing, with all the disastrous risks desperation elicits.

But it’s not game over if Joe Biden can match Chinese decline with a collapse of his own. Alex Lo of the South China Morning Post poses the question: “Suppose both China and the US are in decline …?” …

A scenario where entropy wins means that, rather than achieving an End of History similar to what followed the fall of the Soviet Union, the struggle between the U.S. and China will result in a collapse of the old Global World, succeeded by an unsettled period like that after World War 1.