Why Invade Taiwan When Bypassing Taiwan Works?

March 9, 2022 Updated: March 11, 2022

Commentary

Even as Russia has pivoted to a full commitment to invade and crush Ukraine, Russia is a mere tributary vassal (as are Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela) to China. Don’t be distracted. The main event is China. China, China, China.

The Inchon Model—a Possible Model for a Strategic Maneuver to Bypass Taiwan

U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur devised and implemented a brilliant move against the communists in 1950 during the Korean War. He swooped all the way around and up the Korean Peninsula to land deep behind enemy lines. The Inchon landing worked dramatically well and collapsed the initial North Korean gains into a chaotic retreat, back toward the Chinese border, at which point the Chinese became openly and decisively engaged in the war. It was a historic strategic maneuver. Clausewitz and Sun Tzu would have been proud.

With the situation in the Solomon Islands, just above Australia, there’s a smoldering event that most are not aware of.

Epoch Times Photo
(Map from U.S. Marine Corps Monograph/Public Domain)

Working on an unrelated project, I came across the historical map of the War in the Pacific from 1945 and decided to overlay upon it the current, grave geopolitical possibilities.

The incumbent leader of the sovereign country of the Solomon Islands (population is roughly 652,000; my county is almost that large) is Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who made the decision to switch the country’s long-standing recognition of Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China. The problem is that there seems to be a passionate majority of citizens who don’t agree with the prime minister. Rioting and civil unrest occurred at the end of November 2021; the Australians sent in help, as well as New Guinea. Sogavare requested “police advisers” from China.

If I was a senior planner on the People’s Liberation Army/Navy staff, I would jump on the Solomons as a golden opportunity to project Chinese power far behind the Second Island Chain in Inchon style, envelope Taiwan, and hold Australia and Hawaii at risk. This would be a good course of action to avoid establishing a Pacific version of the bloody conflict in Ukraine. The Solomons are a “pop up” opportunity that professional senior military staff planners are trained to identify, pivot to, and leverage. This is a convenient venue to conduct a dry run with some of the Chinese Navy’s untried amphibious projection capability, including the associated commercial vessels that enable such operations. For those who understand the grave threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), nothing good will come out of Chinese involvement in the Solomons.

How to Counter Such a Move?

The response from the Quad partners of India, Japan, Australia, and the United States and additional like-minded nations should be immediate actions using an array of the available instruments of national interests to ensure stability in the region. Clear, prompt, unambiguous statements, signaling, and re-enforcing activities are vital to nullify the Chinese window of opportunity. The current muddled and confusing messaging of Secretary Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden must be improved. The AUKUS alliance should be vigorously promoted daily by the current U.S. administration and placed on an accelerated schedule. The United States can remind Sogavare that he can be personally placed on the “Entities” list run by the U.S. Department of Commerce (for the non-policy wonks, this is not a good thing).

Emergency aid of several forms should be offered to the Solomon Islands in lieu of any possible form of Chinese presence. The prime minister may have been swayed by the classic debt trap of the nefarious Belt and Road program run by China; the fine print of any such agreement should be explained to the prime minister by diplomats from the Quad. If necessary, any Chinese naval or air movements by military or civilian craft should be quarantined away from the island. The citizens of the Solomon Islands have a right to resolve these matters without undue influence from any gratuity or agreement that may have persuaded the Solomons’ prime minister to veer from the national precedent and wishes of his nation. Small countries with small economies are mesmerized by the initial offer of a Belt and Road pitch and routinely fail to closely read the fine print on the collateral due for default on payments.

As we’re finding in Ukraine, one of the most effective tools in the toolbox is the weaponization of the U.S. dollar and cutting off Russia from the international financial system. China is watching very closely and knows very well it’s extremely vulnerable to the same action.

The Price of Not Acting?

There are a number of issues hurtling the world toward conflict because of the adventurism of the CCP. It’s better for world peace and stability to address them now. The Ukraine conflict may be able to be isolated into a regional matter. However, the unforced error of allowing unchallenged and decisive power projection of China well beyond Chinese sovereign territory (which doesn’t include the sovereign country of Taiwan) only quickens the pace toward worldwide large-scale conflict.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Mills
Colonel (Ret.) John Mills is a national security professional with service in five eras: Cold War, Peace Dividend, War on Terror, World in Chaos, and now—Great Power Competition. He is the former director of cybersecurity policy, strategy, and international affairs at the Department of Defense. John is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. ColonelRETJohn on GETTR, Daily Missive on Telegram.