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Why China Could Soon Invade Taiwan

Biden, unfortunately, has been openly appeasing China in the last several months, and that might give Xi the idea that the U.S. would not defend Taiwan, at least before January 20, 2025.

An F-35A Lightning II pilot turns his aircraft along the yellow taxi line on the 33rd Fighter Wing flightline at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr./Released)
An F-35A Lightning II pilot turns his aircraft along the yellow taxi line on the 33rd Fighter Wing flightline at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr./Released)

When Will China Invade Taiwan? – Xi Jinping cannot stop talking about war, he is fast preparing China’s civilians and military for it, and he demands that Taiwan submit to his communist state.

As the Chinese foreign ministry declared on the 15th of this month, Taiwan is “the core of the core interests of China.”

The people of Taiwan, who mostly do not view themselves as “Chinese,” will not agree to Xi annexing their homeland, so he will have to take the island republic by force if he is to rule it.

That raises one of the most important questions in the world today: When will China invade?

China’s Taiwan Attack Plan

Xi, as President Joe Biden said in off-the-cuff remarks in June, is a “dictator.” Does China’s dictator have, inside the Communist Party, sufficient power to order an invasion on his own?

That’s not clear.

Nonetheless, he can, I think, eventually get what he wants when it comes to Taiwan.

There are for Xi, from all we can tell, three principal sets of considerations as to timing of an attack: the electoral calendar in the U.S., internal political developments in Taiwan, and his timetable based on China’s domestic situation.

It’s hard to figure out what is the most important factor for the ambitious Chinese leader.

As an initial matter, Taiwan politics could be inhibiting Xi for the moment. Taiwan holds its next presidential election on January 13, 2024.

Vice President Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party is leading by 16.8 points in a recent poll.

Lai is in front in large part because the opposition is divided among two declared candidates—Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang and Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party—and a potential candidate from a third camp, Terry Gou. Undoubtedly, Beijing hopes the three China-friendly camps can decide on a single candidate to oppose Lai, who favors a strong and independent Taiwan.

An invasion, therefore, is unlikely until the opposition candidates sort themselves out. Should, however, Beijing believe that Lai will win, Xi will almost certainly ramp up pressure on the island in a last-ditch effort to sway voters.

As one observer said, the Chinese want Taiwan to “fear war.” A Lai win, which would certainly be a victory for the free world, might convince Xi to invade.

On the other hand, Xi undoubtedly thinks he can push around Biden.

Biden, unfortunately, has been openly appeasing China in the last several months, and that might give Xi the idea that the U.S. would not defend Taiwan, at least before January 20, 2025.

That’s not a good look for the U.S. Xi’s recent purge of the two senior officers of the Rocket Force, the branch of the People’s Liberation Army controlling almost all of the country’s nuclear weapons, suggests he wants to threaten the use of nukes to get a weak-looking Biden to stand down.

The last factor is internal. “My assessment is that Xi Jinping is not influenced by external timetables, whether the Taiwan or U.S. election cycles,” Steve Yates, chair of the China Policy Initiative of the America First Policy Institute, told 1945. “He is driven by his own vision for a modern cultural and geopolitical revolution that keeps the Communist Party in power and attacks its enemies.”

As Yates sees it, “China crumbling economic system is the greatest threat to Xi and his chosen mission.”

China’s economy and financial system are showing signs of severe stress. Big property companies, the mainstays of the economy, are defaulting; the currency is plunging; stock prices are falling; investors are pulling money out of the country; businesses are leaving Chinese soil.

On the 10th of this month, Biden at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Utah proclaimed that “China is in trouble.” At least Xi Jinping and the Communist Party are. Biden correctly called the country “a ticking time bomb.” “They have got some problems,” the President said. “That’s not good, because when bad folks have problems, they do bad things.”

Xi Jinping is as bad as they come, especially in China. He is being blamed for the deteriorating situation, and because he has amassed almost unprecedented power he has no one else to hold accountable. Moreover, during his rule he has substantially increased the cost of losing political struggles.

China’s ruler, therefore, must have a low threshold of risk. In other words, he now has incentives to act recklessly.

Xi Jinping will soon have to make a choice. He can either let alarming internal developments take him down and end the rule of the Communist Party or he can rally the Chinese people with a war.

China is not ready to go to war, but in a perverse way that actually increases the chances of Xi Jinping starting one.

Why? Xi can see that America is unprepared because Biden thinks that an unprepared China will not go into battle. There is, as everyone can see, a lack of sense of urgency in the Oval Office and among the senior ranks at the Pentagon.

New Taiwan F-16V fighter jet. Image Credit: ROC government.

New Taiwan F-16V fighter jet. Image Credit: ROC government.

What Biden does not realize is that the Communist Party may decide, for various reasons, to go to war when it is not ready.

“For the past 40 years, China’s Communist Party has been preparing for brutal war, and now the ruling organization is accelerating its plans,” Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center told me recently.

Yes, China can take America by surprise, and now a desperate regime has reasons to do so.

About Gordon Chang, A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, and Author of This Article 

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and China Is Going to War. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @GordonGChang

Written By

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War and Losing South Korea, booklets released by Encounter Books. His previous books are Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World and The Coming Collapse of China, both from Random House. Chang lived and worked in China and Hong Kong for almost two decades, most recently in Shanghai, as Counsel to the American law firm Paul Weiss and earlier in Hong Kong as Partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie.



  1. Jim

    August 26, 2023 at 11:16 am

    The more it looks to Xi, and almost all Chinese, especially the warhawk faction, that the United States is on a defined & irreversible path towards “peeling off Taiwan from the Chinese mainland,” the more likely China will militarily intervene on Taiwan… or engage in a military blockade of the island.

    Yes, the Chinese view Taiwan as an existential issue and are willing to go to war against the United States to insure Taiwan remains part of China… guaranteed, even if it might be militarily unwise for China to do so.

    … does irrationality play a part in why countries go to war… I think we know the answer and that includes China.

    Want to keep Taiwan as a democratic self-governing island… the current and long-standing status quo?

    Lay off the constant talk from U. S. elected government officials about “independence” for Taiwan… and flagrant “meetings” with Taiwanese officials with hints at discussions of future “independence.”

    Going to war against China is like the captain of the Titanic seeing the iceberg five miles off and sets course dead-ahead for the iceberg with the intent to ram it… hoping to burst right through unscathed.

    Not going to happen.

    Only the worst tragedy imaginable!

    For the citizens of Taiwan and for the American People.

    Only a tiny elite want war against China… the average American does not!

  2. 403Forbidden

    August 26, 2023 at 12:26 pm

    USA today wants taiwan as another okinawa or unsinkable aircraft carrier just right off the chinese coast.

    But even that wouldn’t be enough to make china to invade taiwan.

    But a shot or shots fired against PLAN assets in the taiwan strait will definitely result in armed clashes BUT no invasion. Zip. Nada.

    An invasion will only happen ONCE the defenses have been turned into ashes.

    How to turn the defenses into ashes.


    1) A rain of high explosive warheads carrief by rockets & missiles and unlimited thermobaric shelling.

    2) A direct hit or hits by thermonuclear weaponry.

    3) A surprise thunderclap nuke attack carried out by russia in a godforsaken retaliation for US-directed actions in ukraine.

    At the end of the day, invasion or no invasion depends greatly on the situation existing on the ground (or on the map), doesn’t depend at all on written scripts by western authors & writers or journos.

    The idea is basically, finish off totally the hostile side, once hostilities begin. Never let him get on his feet.


  3. Buck Turgidson

    August 26, 2023 at 5:30 pm

    This from a guy who, over 20 years ago, wrote a book that predicted the collapse of China. And he thought is was going happen then.

  4. Nathan Redshield

    August 26, 2023 at 7:25 pm

    There will be war. Biden has an FDR-complex: he sees himself as a modern FDR and knows that it was American entry and victory in WW II that saved FDR’s reputation after the New Deal sputtered out in 1939. China thinks JRB won’t fight–American Progressives support Red China–but JRB’s pride and FDR-complex might lead him to seek a Pearl Harbor-type situation. China’s sinking a Nimitz-Class Carrier might do the trip. Viola! Our Archduke Franz Ferdinand Moment!

  5. John

    August 27, 2023 at 6:52 am

    Taiwan does not seem to prepare for war nor does the US and not clear that the Taiwanese want to fight and die for their independence. China likely to acquire Taiwan simply by waiting.
    However if it invades even with overwhelming superiority, WW3 likely as it will take unexpected severe losses eventually leading to a nuclear exchange with the US

  6. Glenn Andrews

    August 27, 2023 at 7:15 am

    I believe in maintaining a short position via shares of Yang, an ETF that shorts leading Hong Kong index stocks will appreciate rapidly as Xi dials up the pressure. Biden does not look solid at all in ’24, and that will greatly enhance the probability of war in the first quarter after the elections in Taiwan.

  7. Matthew Jacobs

    August 27, 2023 at 7:42 am

    IMO…XI window of opportunity is fast approaching…If He thinks Trump will be the next President replacing weak Biden who would back out of any real attempt to defend Taiwan…Xi’s window would be from the date of the election, to the early months of the next President as Trumps Government would be still organizing and hiring thousands of people

  8. Matthew Jacobs

    August 27, 2023 at 7:58 am

    Please consider…Taiwan has been preparing for War for 70 years…Most if not all defenses are dug in therefore, not easy targets out in the open…Also…Taiwan yes is an Island…but most of the coast is mountainous with a few suitable places for invasion from the sea…

  9. Ericji

    August 27, 2023 at 10:19 am

    Not likely to happen, but if it does this tje driver: “China crumbling economic system is the greatest threat to Xi and his chosen mission.”

  10. HAT451

    August 27, 2023 at 10:42 am

    In the arrogate as long as the Taiwan and those countries that support Taiwan and are allied to Taiwan are weaking and China strengthening there will not be a war. In this phase, it is in China’s interest to let the opposition weaken while they are strengthening. In this case assessment of increase or decline of strength, includes economic, trade, fiscal, labor, in addition to military power.

    Once the pendulum shifts and China starts to weaken or Taiwan and its allies start to strengthen the risk of war increases dramatically.

    As one of key allies to Taiwan, what happens in the US also matters, especially know, given the number economic ties US politicians have with China sponsored companies, both above and below board. Consider the number of stories swirling around the McConnel’s family, Biden’s family, Pelosi’s family ties with with companies with ties to the China’s government. Regarding Eric Swalwell pillow talk with Fang Fang, if of interest of both XXX media, and US counter intelligence agencies for national security.

    What the author eloquently highlights are a few of many factors that can be taken into account, but there are many more.

  11. OIF Combat Vet

    August 27, 2023 at 10:55 am

    For years China has been stealthy encroaching on the US in our own hemisphere, most recently in Cuba and Nicaragua with a wink and a nod from the Biden administration…additionally, we have unchecked Chinese migrants flooding our border, and unchecked influence here at home in our universities.If we are not giving our technological edge, they stealing it…when the balloon goes up in Taiwan, China will be ready to make further gains elsewhere.

  12. El Steverino

    August 27, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    What are we going to do about it if China does invade Taiwan? Biden has emptied the cupboard on missiles on missiles and artillery shells (which we do not have the active industrial capacity to replenish quickly) for Ukraine, cut the strategic oil reserve capacity in half (while simultaneously making it harder to replenish thanks to his war on fossil fuels), purged the US military of thousands of members who are not ideologically pure to the leftist agenda, and turned our armed forces into a social laboratory that no one wants to join (as evidenced by every branch of the service failing to meet it’s recruiting goals). On top of that, we are already on the brink or war with Russia and with Iran (neither of which we are prepared to win). Add to that the fact that our main means of projecting power, US Navy Battle Carrier Groups, would be would be floating target practice for China’s DF-21 missiles. Oh, and as an added bonus, 40% of our submarine fleet is currently sitting in shipyards awaiting maintenance.

    The US in not in any position to get into any kind of war with anyone, let alone Communist China. If Xi wants to invade Taiwan, then right now is definitely the time, because we aren’t in any position to do anything about it. But hey, at least we don’t have to put up with any more mean tweets!


    August 27, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    And how would they get their troops and equipment to Taiwan? China will need at least until 2030 to even have the minimum number of troop transports and equipment transports to even attempt an invasion. Right now they have confiscated as many confiscated civilian vessels as they can.

  14. Tony

    August 29, 2023 at 8:46 am

    Why would Biden fight for Taiwan – it would result in the end of his influence-peddling checks from Beijing.

  15. EZEE

    August 29, 2023 at 10:12 am

    China’s demographic bomb is already going off.

  16. Ed Pye

    August 29, 2023 at 10:20 am

    This cinches my suspicion that China will not invade Taiwan anytime soon. Gordon Chang has been spreading alarmist misinformation about China since his book The Coming Collapse of China in 2001.

  17. Dave Nelson

    August 29, 2023 at 2:32 pm

    The big problem here is too many military aged Taiwanese believe defending their island is a bad idea. This has led the government to slowly transform boot camps into boy scout camps. There are simply not enough properly trained people in their military to stop a Chinese invasion.

    So if instead they’re figuring the US will save them… well, the problem there is we have, apparently, only 3 combat days worth of naval anti-ship missiles.

    Ont he one hand Biden is sensibly trying to take some heat out of the US:China relationship but on the other must have fell asleep at the meeting where the Pentagon explained the defense industries lack capacity to build more naval munitions and will not build new capacity w/o the government making a many-year commitment to buy everything.

    All in all, a very sad state of affairs and very little time to fix things.

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