China still has an official policy of peaceful unification with Taiwan, but China President Xi Jinping has in several recent speeches signaled that he wanted to see the Taiwan matter resolved between 2021 and 2049, marking the centennials of the founding of the Communist Party and its successful revolution.
In mainland China, patience is wearing thin over the continued stalemate over unification, and many there see “increased economic integration has not created any political spillover.” This led to the imposition of tough economic sanctions and its arm-twisting of other nations to boycott the island’s products and further isolate Taiwan internationally, he added.
Increasingly, Chinese leaders “don’t see peaceful unification policy as succeeding” and that it is “better to fight early” to achieve it, despite the economic implications of such moves on Beijing, Zhao said. Their position is not to wait generations to reach the goal of a unified China.
There are calls for the US to help Taiwan modernize its military and to restate clear support for Taiwan.
Taiwan’s economy is about 20 times smaller than China. Taiwan’s population is 60 times less than China. Taiwan’s military budget is 15 times less than China. China is nearing military parity with the US in submarines and fighter planes. Taiwan’s economy also has a large dependence and integration with China. Millions of Taiwanese men work or have businesses in China. China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner.
The Rand thinktank confirmed in 2015 wargaming studies that despite the overall US military advantage over China, the USA would be at disadvantage against China when operating around Taiwan and the South China Sea in the 2017 timeframe (ie now).
The comprehensive report examined US and Chinese military capabilities in ten operational areas, and presented a “scorecard” for each. The analysis is presented in ten scorecards that assess military capabilities as they have evolved over four snapshot years: 1996, 2003, 2010, and 2017.
After 2021, China could theoretically successfully invade and occupy Taiwan, and the US would clearly not be willing to put up the massive military commitment needed to stop it. However, China would only win many decades of problems that would come with an invasion and occupation.
As China becomes a more developed economy with per capita income close to matching Taiwan’s by 2049 then China’s economy will be about 30-50 times the size of Taiwan. China’s economy will likely dominate most of Asia. China’s leadership will likely need to evolve to a more federalist model and provide more independence to the cities and provinces.
This seems to be the path to political unification. Economic unification is mostly complete between Taiwan and China. Political unification would be more likely with more democracy, more provincial political independence and power and more of EU style relationship with other parts of Asia.