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Originally posted by GypseyWing
My vote is that China will not press Taiwan if U.S. is backing them up.
China does not want to invade Taiwan. They want unification without a shot being fired and are willing to be very patient about it. If Taiwan was to move toward independence, the reaction would start off with posturing then move into the economic realm. At that point, the balance of political and social forces inside Taiwan would back off because their standard of living and their relative personal freedom is more important to them than a risky drive to independence.
Right now, China and Taiwan are both quietly profitting from their economic ties in a big way. Neither wants to upset that. Even a modest push by China will lead to a capital and skilled labour flight from Taiwan which is fundamentally counter-productive to the goal of taking Taiwan over.
(One poster mentioned taking over and matching Taiwan's expertise with slave labour conditions. Sounds great but a huge piece of the Taiwanese middle class would just leave. Again counter-productive)
If a time came wherein China was utterly dominant militarily and economically and the relationship with Taiwan did not represent much in overall economic terms, they could build pressure on Taiwan but it would be a slow process. Pushing or attacking the Taiwanese would bring resistence
but they can be slowly demoralized and resigned to an eventual unification. If the Chinese pull that off, they will have illustrated their self styled political and cultural superiority over the US. That kind of thinking plays well over there.
Furthermore, they want no part of a direct confrontation with the US. You can be absolutely sure of that. They are definitely willing to maneuver to reduce American power and influence in the world, but so is over 90% of the world. I can't say that I blame them on either count.
As far as the military balance goes, China could raise a lot of hell and devastation but trying to invade Taiwan now would be insanely costly, could well fail disasterously and would further discredit their government further in the eyes of their own people. It is not a popular government as it stands now.
This question can be asked again in 5 years although the situation might not be meaningfully different even then.
I've spent SERIOUS time in Taiwan and China over the last 8 years so I think I have a good read on this and can give many other arguments to support this perspective.
Originally posted by LadyV
China would beat our butts good!