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Any conflict between the United States and China would prove costly for both sides and would be resolved based on a few key points — and not necessarily in America’s favor, defense experts tell Fox News Digital .
“If you had to rank them, I’d put Taiwan first, the South China Sea second, the Senkaku Islands third, and then anywhere else in the world,” said James Anderson, acting undersecretary of defense for policy. under the Trump administration, adding that the Sea of Japan could also serve as a flashpoint for conflict with China.
President Biden in May reiterated this position when he told a reporter that defending Taiwan, even militarily, was “the commitment we made.”
Fox News Digital spoke with former defense officials and experts.
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Proximity to China would provide Beijing with a significant advantage, similar to how Russia gained momentum during its invasion of Ukraine once it shortened its supply lines to focus only on the territories. just beyond its western border in the Donbass region.
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“The problem is that in the Indo-Pacific theatre, the closer you get to China, the more [China] can concentrate its military assets,” Anderson explained. “What particularly concerns the United States and its allies are ballistic missiles and the fact that China is probably ahead of us with hypersonic weapons”, which could allow China to strike aircraft carriers and other hard and fast surface vessels.
Even with this advantage, China faces a significant conflict which, according to Dr. John Lee, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former senior national security adviser to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, would be “a very bloody affair for both parties”.
“For the past two decades, the United States and its allies have been very passive, allowing the People’s Liberation Army to achieve air and sea dominance in this theater,” Lee said. “However, [they] are now taking seriously the development of long-range strike capabilities, hypersonic strike capabilities, asymmetric capabilities…and the range of non-military measures that would include crippling economic and financial sanctions. »
“In short, the United States and its allies have many good and powerful options to ensure that the military and strategic balance is in their favor,” he added.
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Anderson also touted the US military’s ability to counter missiles. However, this ability loses its impact when faced with “saturation attacks”, which are effectively aimed at covering a target with missiles and extending defensive efforts.
The United States therefore also focused on trying to strengthen Taiwan through the “porcupine strategy”, which would see nations supply the island nation with a large supply of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to help to close the military superiority gap that China holds.
China holds a manpower advantage over the United States, with an army of 2.8 million Chinese soldiers outclassing the United States alone, according to the Brookings Institution, but a naval and air combat operation would significantly limit this advantage.
“At this point, China has air and sea dominance over the Taiwan Strait but cannot successfully land troops in Taiwan,” Lee said. “If it manages to do that, China will see the military option as more attractive.”
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Matt McInnis of the Institute for the Study of War noted that China’s focus will largely dictate its coordination and deployment: Any attempt to secure islands in disputed seas and straits would likely stifle Chinese forces , leaving limited use for troop deployments.
“Depending on your objectives and what they’re aiming to achieve through naval and air forces, you would potentially have some utility for the Marines to hold certain small pieces of territory and certain small islands,” McInnis said, adding that Beijing would only carry out an invasion. once he felt reasonably confident, American forces could not deploy to the area quickly enough.
Anderson noted that China has closed the gap in other military areas but has yet to overtake the United States, acknowledging that China has “the most number of ships in the world today,” but that the United States still has the advantage in terms of quality, and so does a “superior” US Air Force.
The United States can also count on regional partners. China, by contrast, has few allies to turn to, mostly turning to countries like Russia to help it “deflect” economic pressure from the United States and its allies, according to McInnis.
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“There will certainly be economic lines of effort… and I’m sure China is looking at the long term how Russia, as well as key energy suppliers like Iran, can help them manage the economic fallout from conflict with the United States,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re quite there in the relationship between countries, certainly including North Korea. , where they would necessarily provide operational support or lethal aid directly to China. »
Lee believes China’s position has weakened since it nodded and revealed ‘broader intentions’ to ‘dominate East Asia’, a move that has also encouraged the US and their allies to ensure they thwart China’s ambitions.
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“China is trying to win by convincing the United States and its allies that it is not worth defending Taiwan, that the cost would be too high,” he said. “China’s problem is that it has revealed its larger intentions, which are to dominate East Asia. Therefore, a successful Chinese takeover of Taiwan would encourage China to push further rather than lead to more contented power.”