Analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank say that in their recent runs of war games simulating a conflict between the US and the PRC over Taiwan, the US would achieve victory although face steep losses, amounting to nearly half their fleet of aircraft. China’s losses would be far greater, and it would so severely damage their military capabilities as to leave them vulnerable to incursions by one of their many neighboring states with which they have perpetual border disputes, not to mention the economic collapse and predictable fall of the Communist Party’s rule.
Still, the PRC seems to be seeking to redraw the status quo around status quo despite the failure of Pelosi to heed their newly drawn “red line” weeks ago by now warning US warships to avoid the Taiwan strait. The US and its military acknowledges but does not recognize PRC claims to Taiwan including the waters between the two as Chinese waters instead regarding them as international maritime space and regularly sails its ships through those waters. A new status quo that leaves one of the most travelled maritime areas in the world as off limits is as unreasonable as it is unlikely, which begs the question of why China would be drawing such red lines if it knows they will be violated.
They have recently stepped up war games again as another congressional delegation arrives in Taiwan. Such visits are a practice as old as the short existence of the PRC itself and have been the de facto status quo for decades.
There have been suggestions in the foreign policy establishment that the Chinese moves are designed to manufacture a pretext for the PRC to ramp up its aggressive actions in the region in a move to temporarily placate ultra-nationalists by doing something rather than simply allowing the status quo to fester, and that this is to distract party elites from the domestic destabilization that is occurring in the country even as Xi Jinping seeks an appointment to another five years of leadership.
The issue with this argument is that the more new Chinese “red lines” are crossed and the more tensions are ratcheted up, the more likely there is not only to be pressure from those ultranationalists to push over the threshold into actions that could precipitate into war, or that a miscalculation or overzealous action from one of the many undisciplined low ranking soldiers may also spark an escalation into full-scale war. This makes Xi’s use of these red lines dangerous for the stability of the country and therefore the party and his own rule.
This is precisely why the US should push back forcefully and make clear that it will neither submit to diplomatic coercion in abandonment of a country under which it is bound by law to provide for its defense, nor signal to Xi Jinping that such bellicosity will give him an ounce of political advantage in his aspiration to become the longest serving dictator in Chinese history. A forceful US response in which it not only pushes back against this new status quo, but actually punishes and weakens Xi’s hand and China’s stability, will disincentivize future aggression, which up until now has been a virtually cost-free way to gain political concessions.
One of the reasons that the PRC has faced little pushback for its hostile expansion in the region has been a small but fiercely vocal pack of isolationists who believe the US is in decline and should accede to Chinese hegemony, including high profile politicians such as failed 2020 presidential nominee Tulsi Gabbard.
This wing of the foreign policy establishment that when China takes a step forward trying to reset the status quo and draw new artificial red lines in the sand, rather than standing up for its allies or values, the US should take a step back and allow totalitarian expansionism to proliferate.
Such views should be called out for what they are, rank appeasement, towards a regime and dictator whose ultimate aims do not stop at the the “rejuvenation” of a country that has already annexed and wiped several nation states off the map with impunity. They end at redrawing the entire world order to include non-interventionism as its foundation, allowing one-man totalitarianism, neo-colonial territorial annexation, and the wanton genocide of entire political classes and races, to perpetrate itself across the face of the earth without fear of consequence, all under the benevolent hegemonic domination of Xi Jinping.
Written by Ari B.