"Ce problème est beaucoup plus proche de nous que la plupart ne le pensent", a déclaré en mars le nouveau chef du Commandement indo-pacifique américain. </p><div> <ul class="summary-list"><li>La Chine a étendu son influence et a adopté une attitude plus agressive envers Taiwan. </li>
Twenty-five years ago, two attack groups of US Navy aircraft carriers were enough to deter possible Chinese military action against Taiwan after China launched missiles that landed a few dozen kilometers offshore. its ratings.
Now, after a massive modernization effort by the Chinese military, known as the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, two aircraft carrier attack groups, and perhaps US forces alone, might not suffice.
This is especially disheartening for Taiwan, as it is unclear whether it can get help from someone else if, or when, the time comes.
In March, Admiral Philip Davidson, then head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China could invade Taiwan within the next six years.
Days later, Admiral John Aquilino, Davidson’s successor, declined to comment on this assessment, but said China sees Taiwan “as its No.1 priority” and that, in its view, “this problem is much closer to us than most. thought. “
Who could help?
Taiwan’s problem of finding friends is not new. Since the 1970s, most countries have severed their official ties with Taipei and have instead recognized Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a separatist province.
Today, only 15 countries – none in Asia – recognize Taiwan as an independent sovereign state, although Taiwan maintains unofficial diplomatic relations with many countries, including the United States and most of its neighbors.
The countries best positioned to assist Taiwan in an invasion scenario are Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia. In addition to their proximity to Taiwan, they also have their own concerns about the rise of China.
These countries have seen their relations with China deteriorate in recent years, but they are unlikely to intervene directly if Taiwan is invaded.
South Korea hosts some 28,000 US troops and the largest US military base abroad, but it is also concerned about the threat from North Korea and the costs of a gunnery war with China. Seoul doesn’t even know if it would allow US forces to use bases there for Taiwan-related operations.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been making overtures in China since taking office in 2016 – that year he declared his country’s “separation” from the United States, claiming he had “realigned” with Beijing – and continues to have distant relations with the United States.
Although he has taken a harsher tone with China in recent weeks over its maritime violations, Duterte is still seen as reluctant to confront Beijing.
The Australian government would question whether and how it could help Taiwan in such a conflict, but Canberra has made no official statement and its estrangement from Taiwan would prevent a swift response.
Besides the United States, “you’re probably talking about Japan, which is by far the most active potential participant,” American Enterprise Institute researcher Zack Cooper told Insider.
The Japanese Self-Defense Force is quite capable and is reorganizing itself to better handle the Chinese threat. Japan is also home to approximately 55,000 US troops, the largest forward-deployed US force in the world, and has its own territorial disputes with China.
Japan certainly has a lot at stake if Taiwan falls into China’s hands.
Chinese military documents indicate that with Taiwan under Chinese control, “Japan’s maritime lines of communication will fall completely within the striking range of Chinese fighters and bombers.” “
The documents note that 500 million tonnes of Japanese imports pass through Taiwanese waters, including 90% of its oil and 99% of its mineral resources. If the blockades could reduce these imports by only 30%, the documents add, “Japan’s economic and warlike potential will be practically destroyed.”
Japan recently raised the profile of Taiwan, but Tokyo has made no official statement on how it will react to an invasion. Japan has a pacifist constitution, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his recent expression of support in a joint statement with President Joe Biden “does not presuppose military involvement at all.”
Japan is expected to play some role – in part because US bases in Japan should play a role – but, according to Cooper, “the range of activities is going to depend very much” on the scenario.
“The range of stocks is potentially very wide,” Cooper said.
A major factor is whether the PLA is attacking bases in Japan. “I think in that case you would see very close cooperation between the United States and Japan to respond militarily and maybe even to try to support Taiwan,” Cooper said.
But it is not clear that Japan and the United States have a plan for such a scenario or have even discussed it.
“I think that’s actually why the [US-Japan] The alliance needs to talk about it now, ”Cooper said. We can’t just assume we know what Washington or Tokyo would do in a crisis. “
Taipei has its own doubts about Washington, as the United States has never made a formal commitment to come to the aid of Taiwan in the event of an invasion.
While the United States has sold high-end weapons to Taiwan and the Biden administration has expressed support, the United States maintains a policy of strategic ambiguity regarding the defense of Taiwan. This ambiguity has maintained the status quo, but it limits preparations to respond to an invasion.
While the US and Taiwanese military conduct small-scale training and exchanges, there have been no large-scale joint exercises or permanent deployments since the US withdrew from its mutual defense treaty with Taiwan. in 1979.
The United States has military attachés in Taiwan, but the Pentagon does not send its top officials there.
“They send very small groups of people to Taiwan,” said Ian Easton, senior director of the Project 2049 Institute. “They don’t stay there very long. They don’t learn the language. They don’t develop a deep relationship with their counterparts. “
This means that the US and Taiwanese military would find it difficult to coordinate in a conflict. It also means that major U.S. military leaders will not have a full understanding of the battlespace.
“They’re going to have to give military advice on a situation they won’t fully understand because they’ve never even been to the country they’re talking about,” said Easton, author of “The Chinese Invasion Menace: Defense.” of Taiwan and the American strategy in Asia. “
A need to prepare
The US focus on high-end arms sales and statements of support may not be enough as the PLA strengthens.
“We put all of our eggs in the gun sales basket, and it’s just not good enough,” Easton said. “We wouldn’t do this with any other ally. We would not do this with any other democracy… which faces the threat of invasion and occupation from an authoritarian neighbor. “
U.S. officials have said clarifying U.S. ambiguity could cause Beijing to feel compelled to act.
“If we saw a shift by the United States from strategic ambiguity … to clarity on willingness to intervene in an eventuality in Taiwan, the Chinese would find it deeply unsettling,” said Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, in the Senate at the end of April. .
“I think it would reinforce the Chinese perception that the United States is determined to curb China’s rise to power, including through military force, and likely lead Beijing to aggressively undermine American interests in the world.” , Haines said.
Critics of strategic ambiguity argue that the best way to deter an invasion or ensure Taiwan survives is to make China understand that such action would be too costly. It would require the best-placed countries to help craft concrete plans for everything from basic rights and logistical support to direct military action, which many have avoided doing.
“We need to increase the salience of this threat that we all face, because it is a common threat,” Easton said. “We need to be ready to defend Taiwan, and we need our allies to be ready to support us in what we are doing. ”