Why CCP will probably escalate instead of admitting defeat in Taiwan War

The main priority of CCP is to maintain power in China, to prevent a rebellion against the regime. It’s a real possibility however that a popular uprising will occur in China if 1) PLA is about to be defeated in a war over Taiwan, and 2) AUKUS/Quad block international trade in and out of China. It is equally likely that America will give a partly defeated China a treatment a bit similar to the one which Germany and Japan received in 1944 and 1945, though the methods used to secure regime change in China will probably be much less violent (of course). Not even liberals in America will give CCP a third chance after liberalization of China didn’t work between 1976 and 2013.

CCP will do anything to prevent a new Taiping Rebellion. CCP under Mao was the most democidal regime in the last century, killing 76,702,000 according to Rudolph Rummel. CCP today is not as violent, but it’s a high-tech 1984 regime nevertheless, so it’s prudent to assume that China, especially after a “century of humiliation”, will not accept defeat in a Taiwan War but instead escalate almost no matter how many are killed in the process, if that is deemed “necessary” to stop external and internal threats against CCP during a war over Taiwan.

If PLA is smart during an invasion it will not use violence against America as long as the US doesn’t intervene militarily to defend Taiwan. But it’s stupidity to simply assume that America will not intervene. Japan and the Philippines may get involved too. PLA generals are not shortsighted idiots. They are strategic and patient like few others. They will probably only attack Taiwan if having enough sustainability to endure a war of attrition that may last five or twenty years, until America gives up, as the US did in the Middle East.

So even though CCP may in theory admit defeat and not escalate if PLA is quickly beaten by the US in the first weeks of a war one can almost take it for granted that PLA will have enough resources to keep the war going for at least a year. After having lost maybe five thousand soldiers it’s no going back for CCP. It’s at that point a make or break moment for the party if military defeat is on the horizon. China may attack US forces in Japan and the Philippines. If one of these countries respond by firing missiles at the mainland of China it will trigger so much nationalism in the Chinese population that many there will forget about insurgency in favor of escalating the war. The next step can then be an attack on Hawaii.

Nasty asymmetric and non-conventional warfare may also break out, inside the West or in areas close to the US. Since also the West are developing nasty weapons of 4IR (fourth industrial revolution) it’s possible that CCP lashes out non-conventionally if pushed into a corner.

The Vietnam War was remarkably localized, except in Cambodia. But it’s a significant risk that a war over Taiwan will not be localized. An international blockade of China during a war in combination with climate changes and a general financial crisis on a global level may trigger a row of black swans that quickly transports any survivors to a post-apocalyptic society.

America will perhaps offer CCP a sweet peace deal if the party accepts defeat after a long Taiwan War, but CCP will then be in a weak state where AUKUS can slowly chip away its remaining power. The expansion of NATO after Moscow surrendered in 1991/92, and “color revolutions” the last two decades, give Beijing little reason to hope that anglophone AUKUS will not gradually force China to endure a similar treatment, if CCP has already lost a war over Taiwan.

How can you keep a Taiwan War localized if or when Russia fears an AUKUS-supported color revolution in a partly defeated China? Russia doesn’t want to fight alone against both NATO and AUKUS/Quad.

China and America should not repeat the mistakes in July, 1914. Christopher Clark writes in The Sleepwalkers:

“The internal memoranda and correspondence of these days suggest that both the political leadership and the military and naval commands were confident that the strategy of localization would work.”

Xi is now 68. If a Taiwan War lasts five years he better act the next 2-4 years if hoping to be alive or healthy enough to secure a victory and prevent a CCP collapse in case the war starts to go down the drain. The smart strategy of Taiwan is to just fake non-secessionism the next ten years, because Xi can be dead in 2031. But Xi knows of course that any lip service will only be a stalling tactic.

The best option from a Washington perspective is to make Taiwan a porcupine, maintain strategic ambiguity regarding the island, and turn all other neighbors of China into unbeatable fortresses, because that will prevent a domino effect if the US decides that a Han Chinese civil war on a very remote island is not worth the risk of WW3.

But if anyone thinks I support cowardly appeasement then remember three things: 1) a global war started in Taiwan can destroy the fourth industrial revolution, 2) this revolution has already created woke/libertine oligarchic surveillance regimes in addition to autocratic panopticons, and 3) I really don’t like panopticons, especially not woke and libertine police states in the West today. Consequently, if Washington is willing to risk WW3 by intervening in a Taiwan War it will be relatively easy for me personally – at my age with no kids – to focus on the silver lining of WW3: no more imperial panopticons. However, I’m not as happy-go-lucky as Churchill in 1914. Clark writes in The Sleepwalkers:

“The First Sea Lord Winston Churchill was cheered by the thought of the impending struggle. ‘Everything tends towards catastrophe, & collapse,’ he wrote to his wife on 28 July. ‘I am interested, geared-up and happy.’”

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