Will China invade Taiwan in the next 20 years?

I did three posts recently looking at the claim by retiring Admiral Phillip Davidson of the Indo-Pacific Command indicating that he thought China might invade Taiwan in the next six years: “I think the threat is manifest…in the next six years…” I ended up concluding (in bold) that “I do find the idea that mainland China will invade Taiwan in the next 6 years to be somewhat loopy.” I was surprised that I did not receive any comments about that characterization.

Now, it is possible that China may invade Taiwan, not in the near future, but over the next decade or two. Let us say in the next 20 years. So what would have to change to make this option viable in the next 20 years when it is really not likely in the next 6 years?

I think the following will influence this:

  1. Who is the leader of China?
  2. What is the changing composition of the politburo?
  3. How is the economy of China doing?
  4. Is there a problem with internal turmoil and unrest in China?
  5. What is the degree of U.S. commitment to Taiwan?
  6. What is the size and capabilities of the Chinese Armed Forces?


I will have to address each of these variables one blog post at a time. As I don’t like to do particularly long blog posts (unlike my books), I will address each of these variables in a separate blog post, maybe every other day, if I am so focused.

In this case, I am looking at a conventional amphibious operation, as I think that is the only approach over the next 20 years that will actually bring Taiwan under control of China. There are other options and operations that China can do that may intimidate or coerce Taiwan and modify their behavior, but these do not bring Taiwan under the direct control of China. To control Taiwan without an amphibious invasion is a much longer, complex and more difficult process, and I am not going to discuss that here.

Keep in mind that right now, in a conventional warfare scenario, if Taiwan has military support from the United States, the most likely outcome would be a failed invasion. The political and economic cost of a failed invasion would be very significant, possibly resulting in the collapse of the ruling party of the People’s Republic of China.


Past three blog posts on the subject:

Invading Taiwan in the next six years – wherefore and why? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Invading Taiwan in the next six years – the fight? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)

Will China take the risk and actually invade Taiwan? | Mystics & Statistics (dupuyinstitute.org)


P.S. Today is the 77th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Related blog post: The Dupuy Institute on Youtube | Mystics & Statistics

This entry was posted in Amphibious Warfare, China, Conventional warfare, National Security Policy by Christopher A. Lawrence. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience. ... Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation. ... His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024). ... Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

3 thoughts on “Will China invade Taiwan in the next 20 years?

  1. Add the following to your influencing factors:

    who is the leader of America (back to deterrence theory : – )

      • Just like politburo commitment being different from leader (chairman/president) commitment in China, overall commitment (public commitment, Congressional commitment, etc.) can be different than C-n-C commitment in the USA. PRC probably wouldn’t factor in the judicial commitment (except for whether or not the Supreme Court is feeling lax or rigorous about the need for war declarations), but probably would distinguish between guesses about differences in Congressional and Presidential reactions to an invasion of Taiwan.

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