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China v Taiwan. The next big conflict?

  • 24-04-2023 2:40pm

    As suggested by @correct horse battery staple over in the 'Russia' thread, I think this topic is worth a dedicated thread as it seems to pop up from time to time in that thread. So why is Taiwan (or the Republic of China to give it it's full title) important in the global scheme of things? Basically semiconductors. As oil was important in the 20th century, semiconductors are the equivalent in the 21st. Everything 'techy', from modern fighter jets to phones will have a semiconductor in them. For example, all iPhones have a Taiwanese chip in them since about 2014 I think.

    Taiwan is responsible for about 60% of global chip output. Of the higher end more advanced chips, Taiwan makes 90%. So Taiwan's importance in the global supply chain for these chips cannot be underestimated IMO. In the geopolitical arena, Taiwan is continually threatened by China, which sees it as part of it's territory. The US has a policy of 'strategic ambiguity' towards the Taiwan China issue, which basically keeps Bejing guessing as to what the US will do if it ever moved against Taiwan. President Biden has been more outspoken on the issue, saying the US would come to Taiwan's aid if China launched an invasion. Not surprisingly this upset Beijing, which led to the US State Department attempting to walk back to it's position on the 'One China' policy where it 'acknowledges' this policy. This is in itself ambiguous as what does 'acknowledge' really mean at the end of the day?

    One could also support Taiwan because it is a democracy, as opposed to the authoritarian regime that is China. Taiwan has only full diplomatic relations with 13 other countries, with China continually applying pressure in order to isolate Taiwan. Honduras for example switched sides to China just last month. The UN actually bans Taiwanese passport holders from it's buildings. Personally I think we should (Ireland that is) have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. If one believes in principles such as democracy, freedom of opinion etc, Taiwan is an example of them, as opposed to it's bigger neighbour which is one of the most autocratic regimes out there.



    Post edited by Beasty on



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,702 ✭✭✭seenitall

    The thread title is a bit …….. not the full story, as it were. When it comes to Taiwan, won’t the next big conflict be China vs. Taiwan, USA, Japan, South Korea etc. (“etc” to be determined). I suppose it’s good it’s a shorter title (but less specific).

  • Administrators, Social & Fun Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 75,285 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Beasty

    Yurt2 threadbanned

  • Wasn't quite sure about the title, so went with the shorter one to garner interest. You're right of course in that Japan & South Korea would probably get pulled into any conflict that started over Taiwan along with the US. Worth mentioning too that South Korea is next after Taiwan for global output of semiconductors, contributing about 17%. These are mainly made by Samsung.

  • I'd tend to agree. The US will get involved IMO because of the semiconductor issue. The nearest analogy I can think of is Gulf War 1 and Kuwait. If the US was willing to go to war to stop Saddam Hussein having control over it's oil (Kuwait has about 6 or 7% of world oil reserves) then I can't think of why it wouldn't get involved if somebody moved against Taiwan that controls 60% of global semiconductor output.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,905 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    Morally, it's repugnant that more countries don't have proper diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Pragmatically, It's entirely understandable.

    It should be noted that officially both the "Republic Of China" and the "People's Republic of China" claim sovereign over each other, but in practice, obviously "China's" claim over "Taiwan" is a lot more menacing than "Taiwan's" claim over "China" - by simple virtue of their respective sizes and military resources.

    At this sage, if the option was there, Taiwan would gladly opt for independence - the people have moved on from the civil war and forged their own identity, including embracing democracy. But as it stands China has made it very clear that this is a red line, so the status quo of Taiwan pretending that it's "the real China" has bizarrely become the easiest way to survive and thrive. And survive and thrive it has.

    I work with a number of people in Taiwan on a daily basis (our company has an office in Taipei), and aside from the obvious global calamity that a Chinese invasion would result in, for their personal safety and prosperity, I really hope it never happens.

    We were faced with a very small taste the reality of the situation recently. We built a tool that has a "Country" dropdown in it for capturing user's addresses. However, in the one being rolled out to Hong Kong users, we can't call it "Country", we have to call it "Region", because the dropdown contains Taiwan as an option. The people running the project are in Taiwan, and even they concede that this has to be done, just to appease China.

    It's mad to think that humanity can split the atom and send robots to Mars, but has to fall back on this bastardised illusion of sovereignty/non-sovereignty just to keep millions of innocent people living in peace.

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  • Yeah, I think Taiwan's current 'pretend status' is the best way forward for now. One could argue re both entities claiming sovereignty over the other is that the Chinese Civil War never officially ended. Mainland China self declared as the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949 but never crossed the Taiwan Strait to finish off the Chinese Nationalists who had fled there. Technically one could say two governing entities continue to remain in existence because of this. It's a bit like the two Koreas. Both claim sovereignty over the whole peninsula as the Korean War didn't end officially either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    But why is the world Afraid of china,only 14 countries have any diplomatic or military relationships with Taiwan and that number shrinks every year,

    Why not reconise their right as a sovereign democracy and give them a seat at the UN ,

    Rather than sitting here oh let's not upset china,we did the same with Putin and look how that turned out

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,702 ✭✭✭seenitall

    Great post, but no, it’s not mad as in abnormal……… Mankind will still retain its greedy, shortsighted and bloodthirsty nature at the point in time where we all have our breakfasts cooked and served by our personal robots. Or at the point where we colonise other planets. Or at the point a big asteroid hits this one.

    The other side of the medal is the heroism, ingenuity and resilience of humanity. But it all has to be put to the test over and over again……… it never stops. We are full of contradictions!

  • Probably because of diplomacy based on economics & money rather than diplomacy based on principle. It happened here when the current Ceann Comhairle told TDs back in 2018 who wanted closer relationships with Taiwan that they might 'offend' China with their activities.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,905 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    Because it's a unique situation (and quite different to anything Russia is involved in). Taiwan doesn't claim to be a sovereign democracy, so no one else can recognise it as one until it does. It claims to be the "real China", but so does the PRC. Countries have to choose one over the other.

    Pragmatically, the one with a over billion people, active armed forces of 2 million, and 99.6% of the landmass is generally going to win out in terms of official recognition over the one with 24 million people, 1/4 of a million armed forces, and 0.4% of the landmass, regardless of the respective political ideologies of their governments. Both also have an economic and technological significance to the West that makes things very complicated (and even complicates their relationship with each-other - mainland Chinese companies have factories in Taiwan and visa versa).

    The thing is, that the situation still allows Taiwan to exist as if it were a sovereign nation. China have made it very clear (and I for one don't believe that they’re bluffing) that a declaration of independence will result in a military invasion. Taiwan don't think they're bluffing either, which is why they won't declare de jure independence - despite being de facto independent. The explicit. implied and ambiguously hinted protections of the US's Taiwan Relations Act obviously helps too, as does the positions (and political interests) of Japan and South Korea. It's a cold civil war that has been allowed to exist in it's frozen state to keep it from boiling out of control.

    In an ideal world, it would all be sorted out. It's not an ideal world.

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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 25,251 Mod ✭✭✭✭Podge_irl

    I don't think "afraid" is the right word. Obviously it would just have enormous economic consequences - of course the thing is that China equally could not afford to alienate everyone either. There is no point having such massive manufacturing capacity if no one is trading with you. They play on divide and conquer in this approach.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,071 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs

    China is not nearly as kneejerk, nor insecure as Russia has turned out to be and they play the long game. IMHO they're not going to shoot themselves in both feet by invading Taiwan. They know if they did and the US did absolutely nothing it would still be pointless. They'd lose a fair number of men and kit and semiconductor factories would almost certainly be sabotaged. Even if that didn't happen they still need to find people to run those plants. Even then a lot of the kit is western owned or licenced, so would either be remotely fecked or massive sanctions against China by all those companies and nations, not just the US.

    Now Russia is sanctioned and it has affected them. The fact that they swear blind on a near daily basis that it hasn't tells us this. but Russia is actually more robust in some ways. OK they lost a lot, but Russia is also a major food and energy exporter, IE they have plenty for themselves and enough to export for cash. China is a massive importer of both energy and food. OK they could look to Russia for both, but a) the pipelines and other infrastructure don't exist yet and b) China for all their bla bla about co-operation would NOT want to be in hock to Russia. They prefer that going the other way as it is at the moment. Never mind the huge effect sanctions would have on the wobbly enough Chinese economy. Their workers get ever more expensive, their demographics of workers are tightening, yet even then last year one in five Chinese folks between 16-24 were unemployed. And for feck's sake they're still not out of the other side of Covid yet.

    So personally I see more flag waving and diplomacy behind closed doors, while China keeps plugging their soft power and hoping that pays off.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,755 ✭✭✭✭Hello 2D Person Below

    Invading Taiwan would be economic suicide for the Chinese.

    China has spun her economic web far and wide. Dozens of countries are in debt to it - all across Asia and Africa. They've done the opposite to the Yanks and actually invested in countries rather than bombing them into the prehistoric age.

    Any invasion of Taiwan would be a disaster. Taiwan's geography is one of the best in the world when it comes to defending itself. It would be a nightmare for China. Taiwan may be (relatively small) but a nightmare for an invasion - much like Switzerland.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    But china are well in advanced stages of preparations for Taiwan,they haven't build the worlds largest navy for show as it stands they can completely surround and isolate Taiwan in a few hours, and they posess the ability to keep the US navy a safe distance to make them ineffective,

    In various war game scenarios that have been run over the last while the US would lose most of its naval fleet and hundreds of aircraft in the first week alone if China did decide it's taking Taiwan,

    The question has to be asked what is America willing to sacrifice trying to stop an invasion of Taiwan,

    America has destroyer's, aircraft carriers and f18 and F35 aircraft neither aircraft has long enough range 600km round trip if flying with the lightest combat load out of 2 sidewinder missles, which puts them already at a distinct disadvantage against an enemy who can put potentially hundreds of aircraft in the skies over Taiwan and the seas around it

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,182 ✭✭✭The Continental Op

    The semiconductor industry in Taiwan would be useless to China if they invaded an invasion would destroy the thing they most covet. The knowledge that creates the latest chips is spread around the globe with Taiwan being the pinnacle where production is located. No where else could produce the latest chips. But Taiwan can't do it without massive tech specialisations that are spread around the world. China produces a lot of micro processors but can't produce the latest generation. China invading Taiwan would destroy the production of the very chips that fuel its own economy. China may not like having to rely on Taiwan but without them their own high tech industries would fail.

    Wake me up when it's all over.

  • Registered Users Posts: 478 ✭✭Run Forest Run

    If the yanks want a war with China next, then they will probably get one... and we'll have the same giddy cheerleaders baying for blood that we're getting in Ukraine.

    Taiwan will be fed to China, just as the poor Ukrainians have been fed alive to the Russians. All for America's sick and warped view of peace and democracy.

    It's not really about peace or democracy though. Anyone with their head screwed on knows this... it's about trying desperately to stay in power. China is playing the long game, and it's pissing the yanks off. They're getting impatient. Hard luck Taiwan... another pawn in the big boy's power game!

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    Well in this case a lot of ships , aircraft and people will be lost,

    But as we seen very much recently the Chinese can surround and blockade Taiwan in a few hours, if there isn't a large US presence it's over and done with before the US can do anything ,

    All the predictions suggest the US will loose it surface fleet and aircraft in the first week alone,yes the Chinese will have losses but they are only 90 -100 miles from their mainland who gets reenforcements and resupplied quicker

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,182 ✭✭✭The Continental Op

    90% of the worlds most advanced microprocessors are made by TSMC in Taiwan. China invading would destroy that. You can't just march in and take over production of the worlds latest chips. America account for 50% of the chips produced and without them there would likely be a massive recession. Don't think America will allow that. But then huge amounts of chips are processed into goods by China, a massive market that would be removed by an invasion.

    This is all about global economics not who has the best war machine.


    Wake me up when it's all over.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    They would more than likely say not our war , leave them to it ,

    After 20 years of the war on terror the US public are not interested in fighting another foreign war especially when they are facing financial difficulties , imagine what happens if China does sink one or more aircraft carriers,

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  • Registered Users Posts: 478 ✭✭Run Forest Run

    Strange sort of loss... Ukraine is in ruins, and Russia is occupying large chunks of it's territory.

    You've been lied to.

    No doubt we'll get the same duplicitous games around Taiwan too. There are more than enough useful idiots who will swallow and regurgitate it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    Don't cry 😭😭😭😭

    It will all be over soon

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,028 ✭✭✭Oscar_Madison

    I think these days the west knows the price of everything but the value of nothing - we’ve collectively sold our futures to the lowest cost of production - doesn’t matter whether it’s clothes, computers or cars- we want it cheap.

    Somewhere along the line we’ll have to pay for those decisions - and we’re already doing so- jobs, skills, communities and even whole countries are being decimated by Chinas bargaining power and sheer determination - like the new AI chat bots, and in the immortal words of one of the forefathers who got us to this place , we ain’t seen nothing, yet.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,071 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs

    Strange sort of loss... Ukraine is in ruins, and Russia is occupying large chunks of it's territory.

    That's what invading pricks tend to do, which always makes a mockery of their reasons. A certain Austrian corporal went into the Sudetenland and Poland to "protect fellow Germans being persecuted" after "trying peaceful means, bla bla". Well now, there's a coinkydink...

    Russians of all peoples should remember that, after all they celebrate their millions of losses every year and then weaponised that into doing the same to someone else? It seeems the words "hideous irony" doesn't translate well into Russian, much like "intellectual property" doesn't translate well into Mandarin. But Russians of all peoples should also remember the historical maxim; if a people don't want an invader, no matter what they say or do, the invader WILL lose and the Invader WILL leave. The only variables are time and the inevitable pile of bodies that build up before they finally realise that. It happened to the Yanks in Vietnam, Iraq, & Afghanistan, and they actually took the country. Their real troubles only came after that. Russian tried but failed miserably and obviously, before they even got to the first phase.

    This would play out the same in Taiwan. Only with added civil war on top as there are enough Taiwanese that would want to be "Chinese" to make that kick off.

    And that's bad for business. The Chinese know it, the Americans know it, the Taiwanese know it. For Russia bad for business means a lot less than for the Chinese and the Americans and the Taiwanese. They were already fecked, the ruble in freefall before their idiocy. China has a lot more to lose and they're not that stupid.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,939 ✭✭✭RGARDINR

    The best thing America could do for Taiwan is provide it with billions and I mean billions on military aid mostly on surface to ship missiles and on surface to air missiles. I believe this would be the best option for Taiwan. No point Taiwan getting new aircraft when this is exactly what China would be destroying in the first and 2nd salvos if they do invade. I would imagine most of Taiwans aircraft would be destroyed on the ground so make it impossible for China to land troops on Taiwan. You will need to blow the ships out of the water. Taiwan really needs billions for anti ship missiles. That's where the real key would be. I believe if China does take Taiwan within a few years might take 20 or 30 the west will come to terms with same. They will say it was always a part of China and I think China realise this, that's the biggest difference in regards Russia invading Ukraine and China invading Taiwan. Most countries after a while will say well Taiwan was technically China and move on from it. I think that's why China puts the pressure on countries to not recognise Taiwan but to recognise China as they know in the long run within 20 years even if they go to war with the United States most countries will recognise China ruling Taiwan sadly. The best thing Taiwan can do is not let the Chinese land on Taiwan so you need to take them out in the sea so a lot more investment in anti ship missiles is the number 1 priority in my opinion.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    This is one of the few options that makes sense, considering how few Chinese ships it took to surround Taiwan recently along with the fact china can also put hundreds of aircraft in the skies over Taiwan too ,

    If they don't have enough anti ship missles it won't be a long drawn out fight,this won't be ukraine Taiwan are politically and militarily isolated, look what china did a few years of modernisations , literally the built a new army ,navy and airforce with some serious firepower now they have more Naval vessels in service than the US navy,but they also massively invested in their own Anti ship missles, several of which are hypersonic glide weapons nobody else has with ranges in excess of 1400kms and nobody has a counter to yet ,

    That's going to keep US aircraft carriers out of that fight all together, even the aircraft on-board said aircraft barely have a 600km range if they fly light with only two air 2 air missles,so no strikes in support of Taiwan or on mainland china,

    People are comparing the Russian invasion of Ukraine to that of china taking Taiwan, Russia never prepared for a proper invasion of Ukraine they went ahead thinking 3 days to Kiev and a party on the weekend,

    China have been building and preparing for this for decades, chances are they already have infiltrated the taiwanese military forces and government so know exactly how and what the reaction will be if they do decide it's time to go .

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,533 ✭✭✭Beta Ray Bill

    I think you're correct for the most part

    I do not think a war would play out in a traditional sense though. China wants Taiwan for 2 reasons

    China is basically boxed in from the open ocean by a series of islands in the East China Sea (none of which it owns), Taiwan and all the nations on the South China Sea. If there was a war, a naval blockade would be the first thing that would happen. Taiwan is key to breaking open that box

    Secondly as already mention is the semiconductors.

    I think for both reasons, China needs Taiwan mostly intact, so leveling the place and huge civilian casualties wont work in terms of their objectives.

    In terms of Air/Sea Defense batteries, I'd imagine the army would place them on top of or very close to the big semi conductor factories, knowing that China will be reluctant to destroy them. Potentially forcing an invasion (Messy)

    Someone said that Taiwan would be easily defendable but I do not think this is the case, there is no meaningful deep water port on the East of the Island, and there is no airport there either, this means reinforcing Taiwan will be extremely difficult.

    In relation to their Military and Equipment, yes China has hypersonic glide weapons, but these have been used sparingly by Russia to attack stationary targets (It's unknown how many they actually have). It's highly unlikely that the warhead would sink a carrier (Unless it had a small Nuclear warhead). And they'd have to find a the Carrier group first, which in war time would be very difficult to do. It should also be noted that while China has being boosting its military capabilities, it's still not nearly as advanced as US equipment, nor do they have the power projection that the US has, and they don't have the support from nearby countries. Their army is not battle hardened either. They most likely would have no idea how to conduct a successful war against the US and it's allies other than a "Zapp Brannigan" type approach.

    I think however the biggest obstacle to Jinping's desire to take Taiwan is Chinese military structure. It's highly likely that it is rife with corruption (As are all armies under this type of government) and if Jinping pulled the trigger, I'd imagine his commanders would say "No" and there would be an overnight change in leadership.

    Post edited by Beta Ray Bill on

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,290 ✭✭✭beachhead

    Have you forgotten North Korea? Also,India will be waiting to see which side to support and at what time and possibly grab a possession with Pacific access to it's friend-China

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,290 ✭✭✭beachhead

    Why are the references always to the Yanks in posts when war is the subject.The Yanks are latecomers to the atrocities game.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    @Beta Ray Bill In relation to their Military and Equipment, yes China has hypersonic glide weapons, but these have been used sparingly by Russia to attack stationary targets (It's unknown how many they actually have). It's highly unlikely that the warhead would sink a carrier (Unless it had a small Nuclear warhead). .

    No so true ,the hypersonic missiles Russia has used several times in Ukraine were not hypersonic glide weapons they were simply relabel ballistic missiles launched from an aircraft rather than the ground, most most modern ballistic missels tend to be hypersonic,but they are not modern hypersonic glide weapons which only china operate as Anti ship missles - the Americans themselves have said that they can and will sink a US carrier with no counter measures available yet, even the latest US hypersonic missile was recently cancelled after multiple failures in testing,

    China has 3 aircraft carriers with another 10 plus on the Way so they know the biggest threat to their dominance in the south china sea/pacific is US carrier groups hence why they went with putting a huge effort into countering or neutralizing that threat