If necessary, should the US go to war with China to defend Taiwan?

Recently, the Chinese president said this:

I don’t think that’s intended to signify any immediate plans to invade Taiwan, but I’m curious what Dopers think about the appropriate course of action for the USA should China opt for re-unification through military means? Should we go to the wall to defend Taiwan, committing all necessary military forces to an all-out war with China if necessary? Something less than that? Or should we sit it out entirely?

I once had a boss who said some pretty wise things. Most notable was, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” Of course, his wisdom didn’t always win the day.
So since we’re committed to a land war in Asia: If China gets up in Taiwan, we take out Russia. Of course, with Trump in charge, we’d probably just take out Hawaii because they look Chinese enough.

We do?

It’s going to depend on the circumstances. You’ll notice Xi Jinping didn’t put a timetable on his statement. All China has to do is bide it’s time and the economic integration that has occurred will lead to a political settlement.

I don’t think anyone wants to see China pick off Taiwan, Japan re-militarize, Koreas start combat, the South China sea be completely militarized and all the claiments/neighbors get sucked into a military confrontation with the US of A sitting on it’s ass. This would not end well ultimately for the US. Incoming congressman Dan Crenshaw put it succinctly “we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”

A U.S. war with China over Taiwan would probably involve next to no “land war” whatsoever. It would be a war waged almost entirely by air and sea.

To shape the discussion, Congress created the National Defense Strategy Commission with the FY17 National Defense Authorization to evaluate US strategy and make recommendations. Last November they completed their almost year long round of hearings and published their report. In the report they include several vignette’s one of which is the attempted conquest of Taiwan by China in 2024. One paragraph from the report:

Oh and just today I saw that China has apparently become the first nation to field an electromagnetic railgun on one of it’s ships. In a campaign that will have a large naval component that’s a big announcement.

There’s a real chance of the US being faced with a fait accompli, where China is largely successful before we can offer meaningful assistance to Taiwan. Given the effectiveness of Chinese anti-access/area denial measures, trying to liberate Taiwan could turn into an incredibly costly affair. I don’t support involvement there. The potential costs are exceeded by the benefits. UN sanctions are a non-starter as a response due to the Chinese veto on the Security Council. I would be willing t lead widespread and heavy, but non-UN endorsed, sanctions. Those run a real risk of severe global recession or depression as the two largest economies in the world uncouple.

If we have enough advance warning to support Taiwan in defending itself from the attack I would generally support that. That comes with a risk of things still escalating even into a full on conflict. There’s a real cost to the post-WWII international order if American deterrence is shown to be meaningless. Even if we lose and Taiwan falls there’s still benefits when other potential aggressors see US willingness to stand against aggression that undercuts that order. Staying out in that case simply encourages later aggression that can’t be ignored. The delay also comes with costs of increasing break down of the current order so it’s not really worth it IMO.

I’m also a general supporter of that current order, even with it’s real flaws. James Mattis’ resignation memo argues briefly for it. The commission report linked at the beginning makes an argument for it as well in it’s foreword. Maintaining that order comes with benefits…and bloody costs. it’s a broader view than just the specifics of a singular conflict that might not be worth it on it’s own merits.

An invasion of Taiwan would be highly unlikely to succeed; the Chinese would first have to make it past the tripwire of Jinmen, Matsu and the Pescadores, and then also establish air and sea superiority, and then land a large-enough invasion force on Taiwan proper (China to date has still made little investment in sealift capability.) There are only a few beachheads or ports suitable for such a landing, and the tides/current/weather in the Taiwan Strait further restricts invasion times to only several brief windows of time per year. Taiwan would also be able to muster reinforcements on scene much quicker than China, due to much shorter distances to get from Point A to B on the island (whereas Chinese reinforcements would have to make their way across the Strait.)

A blockade is much likelier to succeed, though, because an island like Taiwan is guaranteed to be starved of resources sooner or later if a blockade goes on long enough. But that, by its nature, wouldn’t be something that would result in a “fait accompli”; it would take a long time.

So it’s unlikely the U.S. would be faced with a fait accompli sort of situation. Also, an invasion force the size that China would need to realistically capture Taiwan - perhaps a million strong - would be almost impossible to amass and prepare and outfit and load aboard ships without being noticed.

This. I don’t think anyone’s plans involve trying to invade China. Sink their Navy, shoot down their air force, and blow up their missile launchers and munitions factories and Taiwan is reasonably safe. None of that should require “boots on the ground”.

Yes, I feel the United States should use its military forces in defense of Taiwan if China attacked it. We’ve made a commitment to Taiwan and we should stand by it. If it became clear that the United States was not going to honor its defensive commitments, this would encourage other attacks.

In addition, Taiwan is a democratic country. We should defend it on the principle of supporting democracy.

Have you been paying any attention to history or current events in the last fifty years? The United States doesn’t always get to choose what kinds of wars it fights.

The United States does not have any formal commitment or pact to defend Taiwan, unlike its treaty with South Korea or Japan.

But there’s no scenario that would require “boots on the ground” vs. China, per the OP thread.

Chinese blockade = something to be responded to via air/sea

Chinese invasion = something to be responded to via air/sea

Chinese missile strikes = something likely dealt with via airstrikes or missile strikes in return

Chinese cyberwarfare = something probably dealt with via cyber means
There isn’t a scenario that calls for a land war.

It would be a Pyrrhic victory that would destroy the international trade which has been the foundation of China prosperity.

Taiwan is a major investor in China. There would be huge financial cost for very little gain.

This article says that Taiwan wouldn’t need any help from the US military to defend the island.

Chinese weapon system that prevents us from deploying American ships in the region and which isn’t vulnerable to air strikes = ?

We don’t have a formal treaty with Taiwan because we don’t formally recognize Taiwan as a country. But the United States has committed itself to defending Taiwan.

The article says the war could go either way. For purposes of our poll, let’s assume that Taiwan will succumb to the Chinese invasion without US intervention.

I’m torn. My Dad fought for the former incarnation of China (against Japan) that basically became Taiwan and he loved the people he worked and struggled with. But I have a couple close personal friends in what I call “mainland China” today. So I think I want us to sit it out. If my friends are able to immigrate say here or Canada ------- I may change my mind.

Such a war would also anger many of the other smaller (and bigger) countries in the area like Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Phillipines, Thailand, and India. They are also nervous about Chinese expansion.

Would they start some sort of action? Hard to tell.

I mean, we’ve actually had boots on the ground in Asia, in China even.