Better A2AD capabilities best way to deter Chinese aggression: RAND
Washington, Oct. 24 (CNA) The RAND Corporation has argued in a recent report that the most effective way for Taiwan to deter Chinese aggression is by upgrading its anti-access/area denial (A2AD) capabilities.
Six years after the nonprofit corporation first reviewed the prospects for war between China and the U.S., it looked again at the issue in a report titled "Conflict with China Revisited" and felt less confident today that a Chinese-U.S. military clash will not take place in the future.
Citing China's increased political, economic, and military capabilities, the report identified six sources of potential conflict between the two world powers -- North Korea, the South China Sea, Taiwan, cyberspace, Japan, and India.
On the subject of Taiwan, the paper pointed to frosty cross-Taiwan Strait relations since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took power in May 2016 and said the chance of conflict across the strait will remain as long as the fundamental disagreement regarding the "1992 consensus" persists.
The consensus, which underpinned closer ties between Taiwan and China from 2008 to 2016 under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), says that the two sides agree that there is only one China, with different interpretations of what that means.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party reject such a consensus because of its implication that Taiwan is a part of China, but Beijing sees its acceptance as a precondition for moving forward on relations with Taiwan.
As for what a possible cross-strait conflict might look like, RAND said it could take many forms, "from a Chinese blockade of Taiwanese ports, to varied levels of bombardment of targets on Taiwan, to an outright invasion attempt."
In those cases, the U.S.'s goal "would be to prevent Chinese coercion or conquest of Taiwan and limit, to the extent possible, the damage inflicted on Taiwan's military, economy, and society."
The report argued, however, that America's ability to "confidently accomplish these missions" is eroding as China's military modernization continues.
RAND therefore recommended that the U.S. help build the military capability of its regional partners, including, of course, that of Taiwan.
The United States could improve partner A2AD capabilities by providing surface-to-surface missiles, antiship missiles, and drones to help with C4ISR and other longer-range strike options, the report said, which would help Taiwan. C4ISR means Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
"The most effective means of deterring Chinese aggression against Taiwan is for the island to focus on upgrading its own A2AD capabilities," the report said.
"Modernizing and expanding the number of Taiwan's antiship cruise missiles could make the cost of an amphibious invasion attempt by China unacceptably high," it added.
Such checks could deter the rapid escalation of any aggression and maintain the region's stability, according to the report.
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