The linked article predicts that China will attack Taiwan before the end of the decade.
The thesis is that “peaking-power syndrome” — the tendency for rising states to become more aggressive as they become more fearful of impending decline — has caused some of the bloodiest wars in history. The examples are Germany in 1914 and Japan in 1941.
The article points out that China has grown rapidly over the past few decades until it has the largest economy in the world on a PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) basis. China has the largest navy by number of ships and conventional missile force. China’s population is over three times the U.S. and they have a massive military with near-infinite replacements.
The argument that China is peaking is demographic. Thanks to the legacy of its one-child policy, China is approaching demographic catastrophe: It will lose 70 million working-age individuals over the next decade while gaining 120 million senior citizens.
It seems to me that the U.S. is also a peaking power, or possibly beyond our peak. The mid-2020s will witness the mass retirement of aging U.S. cruisers, guided-missile submarines and long-range bombers, leaving the U.S. military with hundreds fewer missile launchers — the key metric of modern naval firepower — floating and flying around East Asia. The U.S. has a large trade deficit with China. Our economy relies on China to suppress inflation and interest rates in our economy by selling cheap goods and buying U.S. Treasury bonds. Like China, we have a growing aging population.
This frightening scenario describes two nuclear-armed superpowers with the world balance of power at risk. China’s current belligerent actions around Taiwan is potentially far more dangerous than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China is rapidly deploying missiles, aircraft, warships and rocket launchers that can pummel Taiwan; it is assiduously rehearsing large-scale amphibious assaults.
**The Coming War Over Taiwan**
**With its global power at a peak and domestic problems mounting, China is likelier than ever before to make good on its threats.**
**By Hal Brands and Michael Beckley, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 4, 2022**
**China's war plan could well involve a surprise missile and air attack against Taiwan and U.S. military bases in the Pacific, strikes on the satellite communications that underpin the American way of war and a wave of sabotage and assassinations within Taiwan—all as prelude to a massive airborne and amphibious invasion.**
**Both U.S. and Taiwanese forces could be crippled as the PLA rushes toward its objectives. Even if America avoids rapid defeat, the nightmare scenario currently envisaged in Ukraine — direct clashes between the U.S. and a nuclear-armed great power — would be the reality at the outset. A Sino-American war could escalate rapidly because it will involve technologies that work best when used first, including cyberattacks, hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare. The side that is losing might decide to use low-yield nuclear weapons to turn the tide or force its opponent into submission.**
**The economic fallout would also be horrendous....the world might find itself cut off from the more than 90% of cutting-edge semiconductors that are manufactured in Taiwan. ...** [end quote]
The rest of this long article is a military analysis of capabilities, allies and strategies. All of it very scary and high-risk.
The Pentagon ran a war game analysis and concluded that the U.S. couldn’t win due to being outnumbered, very long supply lines and vulnerability of bases to attack.
China has made no secret that Taiwan must be absorbed someday. This article makes the case that “someday” will probably be soon.
A superpower conflict between China and the U.S. over Taiwan is the maximum Macroeconomic Risk for the U.S. economy (not to mention markets). It’s not a matter of if, but when.