If cross-Straits war breaks out, sudden surrender of Tsai authorities is expected
Published: Oct 26, 2021 07:56 PM
Tsai Ing-wen Photo:VCG

Tsai Ing-wen Photo:VCG

The Tsai Ing-wen authority has said that the island will defend itself "to the very last day" if the Chinese mainland attacks. Most people know they are bluffing. A recent Wall Street Journal report quoted several experts as assessing that Taiwan's military has "poor preparation and low morale". Also, "adult men in Taiwan don't actually want to fight". The article doubted the island would stand much chance against China's People's Liberation Army. The report also advised that the Taiwan military could become far more effective by training with the US.

How could it be possible to boost the low morale of the Taiwan military by training with the US army? In 2003, I asked a former soldier in Taiwan "whether the island is able to defend itself if a war breaks out?" He made it very clear that the answer is "no". I then asked him how long he thinks the island could hold, he answered that, "Maybe dozens of hours." That was a long time ago. Today, the military capability comparison between the Chinese mainland and the island of Taiwan is completely different from that of 18 years ago.

From my point of view, first of all, the mainland doesn't want to fight a war. It has the will to safeguard peace and take war as the last resort. Second, the Democratic Progressive Party authorities dare not fight. They are making bluffs, but they know very well that the island's military forces are weak. They cannot withstand even a single blow. If there is a war, Taiwan will be surely defeated and collapse. Third, the US side cannot fight there. Should it not go into a war there, the Taiwan Straits will be Washington's strong bargaining chip. Otherwise, the straits will become the grave of American soldiers. The US will suffer heavy losses instead of making gains. 

The problem now is: The DPP authorities who dare not fight have now taken a long-term arrogant posture. They are gradually turning themselves into a political nail that the rising mainland must pull out. They claim they are at the forefront of the democracies to confront the mainland and are trying to serve as an outpost in the US' Indo-Pacific Strategy to contain China. They have also openly rejected the one China principle. Even their master, the US, has kept reiterating its commitment to the one-China principle, despite leaving some leeway to interpret the one China concept.

If the DPP authorities have the determination to fight until the end, they could change Taiwan's military service system by making it mandatory to serve for the military for all men, like Israel. Then they should cut all unnecessary expenditures and take most of GDP as military budget. But Taiwan only has 180,000 troops of active forces. Most of these are "strawberry soldiers", which is a term used to describe delicate or spoiled youths who cannot withstand the pressures of being in the military. The DPP authorities hold the illusion to realize "Taiwan secession" by simply relying on US and Western opinions, they are just daydreaming. 

My prediction is that a war in the Taiwan Straits may eventually be avoided. That is when the strong military pressure of the mainland bows down the will of pro-independence forces in Taiwan island. The situation is changing. The goodwill and patience of the mainland is not to be consumed by DPP authorities endlessly. If the Taiwan question escalates so that it can only be solved through military means, the sudden surrender of Taiwan authorities who dare not fight is within everyone's expectation. 

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn