Taiwan Says War With China Would Be 'Disastrous' for All

A war between Taiwan and China would inflict heavy losses and be "disastrous" for both sides, Taiwan's top defense official said on Thursday, two weeks into a Russia-Ukraine conflict that has gripped not only Europe, but Asia, too.

At a parliamentary hearing in Taipei, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine had tipped the strategic balance in Europe and affected developments in the Indo-Pacific, as well as security across the Taiwan Strait. China would continue to support Russia diplomatically and economically, he said, but it had made no irregular troop deployments near Taiwan.

Ahead of the session, Chiu told reporters that a cross-strait conflict would at best lead to a Pyrrhic victory for one side. "Nobody wants a war. Going to war requires some forethought."

"Will it be disastrous? A war would frankly be disastrous for everyone," he said. "In the end, it's usually a painful victory, even for the winning side."

There are few worthwhile comparisons between Ukraine and Taiwan, but Chiu said Beijing, like Moscow, would count on a quick and decisive victory in any cross-Strait conflict, the type of victory which Russian forces have failed to achieve in Ukraine in spite of their overwhelming numerical advantage. U.S. officials said Putin had planned to take Kyiv in two days.

Chiu told lawmakers: "The objective of any Chinese invasion would be to occupy Taiwan. They are already capable of taking [Taiwan's] Kinmen and other outlying islands, so why haven't they done it?

"Because they need to be confident that they can do it in one attempt. If not, they'll end up in the same situation Russia faces in Ukraine. That's giving them pause."

Taiwan Says China War 'Disastrous' For All
A Taiwanese soldier throws a smoke bomb during a military demonstration at an army base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on January 6, 2022. At a parliamentary hearing in Taipei, on March 10, 2022, Taiwan's Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said a conflict across the Taiwan Strait would be "disastrous" for both sides. SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

China's military doctrine will be calling for a swift military campaign to seize Taiwan, before the island's defenses can gather themselves, he suggested.

"The sequence [of the invasion] won't change—guided missiles, precision strikes, crippling infrastructure—that won't change, but it'll be faster," Chiu said. "And they'll do it simultaneously."

"When they strike outlying islands, they'll also hit [Taiwan's] main island. Their naval and air forces will likely already be on the move during the missile barrage," he said.

Taiwan's defense planning doesn't consider the possibility of foreign military assistance, although Chiu has maintained that Taiwan would welcome any outside help. Taiwan, which has few formal diplomatic relations, is not guaranteed support from NATO, the European Union or members of the United Nations. However, the United States, as its closest security partner, would be likely to provide some form of military assistance.

Also reporting in parliament on Thursday, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said China would "pay a heavy price" if it miscalculated and took military action against Taiwan.