When Will China Invade Taiwan?

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted April 14, 2023

At this point, most everyone has accepted the reality that China will attempt to invade Taiwan and sooner rather than later. 

The same was true with Ukraine, where we saw Vladimir Putin telegraph his intentions for years before finally acting. 

Russia was never going to let Ukraine — and especially Crimea — escape its clutches. 

Not without a fight, anyway. 

The same is true of Taiwan. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has already anointed himself “president for life,” placing himself as the fulcrum of China’s transition into the world’s preeminent superpower.  

Like his fellow dictator in Russia, Xi will seek to further burnish his legacy as a conqueror one who reclaims lost lands and restores their empire to its former glory.

And last week, we got another glance at what that might look like. 

Agitated by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s trip to Washington where she met congressional leaders, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, China staged another mock invasion of her homeland. 

For three days, China conducted live-fire drills around Taiwan, rehearsing a blockade of the island that would preclude the United States from intervening in its seizure. 

The exercises simulated sealing off the island to block sea and air traffic, with Taiwan reporting more than 200 flights through its vicinity by Chinese warplanes.

At the drill’s conclusion, China’s military declared that it was “ready to fight.” 

Additionally, Beijing announced it would now conduct “on-site inspections” of cargo ships in the Taiwan Strait as part of a patrol exercise — an escalation that could ensnare foreign vessels in one of the world’s busiest shipping thruways.

Of course, the escalation isn’t entirely one-sided.

Just as China’s show of force concluded, the United States began a joint military exercise with the Philippines. 

The so-called Balikatan Exercise began on April 11 and is scheduled to last for 17 days, with more than 17,000 troops taking part.

It’s the largest military drill the two countries have ever coordinated.

It shows just how far tensions with China have escalated, since last year's version of the drill involved half as many troops.

It’s also taking place just months after the United States reached a new agreement with the Philippines to station troops and assets in four Filipino bases neighboring the South China Sea the nearest of which is just 380 miles from Taiwan.

So both sides are getting ready. 

The question then is when will this build-up come to a head... and that’s obviously difficult to answer since it depends on numerous geopolitical factors as well as China’s readiness.

What we do know is that President Xi has instructed his military to be prepared by 2027. 

That’s a pretty good indicator. At the very least, it shows that Beijing doesn’t think it’s capable of winning a decisive victory right now. 

That assessment is further corroborated by defense experts who have monitored China’s military drills. They say China has struggled with electronic warfare effectively disrupting enemy communications and control systems. 

And Su Tzu-yun, a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told the Financial Times that the aircraft carrier operations show the PLA Navy executing flight sorties at a much slower rate than the U.S. Navy.

It’s also likely that China has been unnerved by Russia’s face-plant in Ukraine. That conflict has shown just how hard it is to pull off an invasion. 

And in China’s case, that invasion would have to include an amphibious assault, landing, and occupation that might prove difficult to achieve, much less sustain.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the invasion won’t come sooner than anticipated.

A private memo penned by a four-star general in the Air Force earlier this year warned that things could jump off as soon as 2025.

“I hope I am wrong,” writes Air Mobility Command Head Gen. Mike Minihan. “My gut tells me we fight in 2025… Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. [The] United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America.”

I’ve seen other potential timelines floated too, so you can take that with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, everyone seems to agree that the invasion itself is a foregone conclusion. 

And that’s why investors must be prepared. 

China’s invasion of Taiwan will absolutely tank the market, save defense contractors. 

And before that happens, I got the lowdown on Beijing’s secret weapon, as well as the company the Pentagon has tapped to counter it.

You can find out more about that here.

Fight on,

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Jason Simpkins

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Jason Simpkins is Assistant Managing Editor of the Outsider Club and Investment Director of Wall Street's Proving Ground, a financial advisory focused on security companies and defense contractors. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

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