As President Biden fills out his national security team, deterring Chinese adventurism, particularly towards Taiwan, will be necessary to keep the peace. Last October, NPEC conducted a series of wargames that had Beijing stopping all cargo ships bound for Taiwan and demanding that they pay a duty to Mainland China.
Attached is a final report on these games, which engaged 20 Hill, Pentagon, State, and Intelligence Community staff. Although the United States and its Pacific allies did all they could to avoid military conflict in the games, a shooting war ensued. Fortunately, the U.S. and its allies were able to produce a stalemate without going nuclear.
There were two important take-aways. The first is that the United States needs to work more vigorously with its Indo-Pacific allies to deter Beijing from using military force to intimidate Taiwan and China’s other neighbors. The report lists several ways to do this.
Second, the U.S. needs to revitalize its efforts to dissuade Japan and South Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons. This needs to begin now, before any regional crisis, such as an invasion of Taiwan, might prompt Japan or South Korea to get their own nuclear weapons. Any such U.S.-led nonproliferation effort must also address China’s nuclear materials and weapons build-up.
Oct 31, 2020
NPEC Wargame Report 2001 (PDF) 392.99 KB
If one connects the dots of the People’s Republic of China (hereafter PRC) actions and policies over the last decade you will notice that:
- China has paid no penalty for ignoring World Court South China Sea ruling that they have disregarded and for which they have paid no noticeable penalty.
- China has paid no penalty for their initial hiding and not blocking the early global spread of COVID-19.
- China’s dismemberment of their promises to Hong Kong of “one country, two systems” has been without penalty.
As hope is not a method why should China not continue their declared agenda to re-establish control of Taiwan and other disputed islands controlled by other nations aligned with the United States?
In sum, the current trajectory of PRC threats and tepid global community responses have lowered U.S. security interests in the region. This in turn increases the probability that at some point the PRC will apply economic and military pressure on Taiwan to re-establish their control over the island and its populace. If the U.S. and its regional allies do not change the PRC calculus in the near term a scenario like the one played out in this wargame becomes more probable. Hopefully, some of the recommendations at the end of this report can inform a more substantive debate and call for action.
To read the entire report, click here.