Simple Counting Shows China Cannot Successfully Invade Taiwan

China can transport about 40,000 troops in the first day for an invasion of Taiwan. IF none of the ships and helicopters and planes are shot down while crossing 100 miles of open water. If 40,000 troops could make it onto Taiwan, the Chinese troops would be outnumbered 4 to 1.

Nextbigfuture has already gone over why China cannot have a successful military invasion of Taiwan. The points all still hold and are even stronger today.

Reviewing the details is needed because there are idiots who handwave and make unfounded assertions that China can take Taiwan militarily. They also do not factor that Taiwan has Taiwan Semiconductor. 90% of the World’s advanced chips come from Taiwan Semiconductor. The Auto chip shortage which caused $200 billion in lost car revenue was caused by a 10% shortage in 12-30 year old chips. Apple, Nvidia and all the other tech companies would get on the phone to tell their political servants that any disruption of Taiwan Semiconductor is unacceptable. Big Tech and Big Money would order the politicians and military to stop the disruption. Anyone who has been paying attention the last few decades would know that the politicians and military would obey.

China would try to pound Taiwan first with missiles and planes. Taiwan has about 400 fighter jets to defend. Taiwan has thousands of missiles for antiaircraft and antiship. Taiwan is 60% mountains which makes it very easy to place missiles in rock caves where they are difficult to find and destroy. It seems likely that less than half of an amphibious assault force and troops in helicopters could reach the beaches of Taiwan. This would mean the first wave would be outnumbered 8 to 1.

Taiwan has been upgrading the underground air bases at Hualien and Taitung.

A few thousand Chinese paratrooper and helicopter-delivered troops would not be able to take and hold any airport or airfield in Taiwan.

The current Russia-Ukraine war shows that all of China’s modern jets are vulnerable to US missiles.

In the early 1990s, China began purchasing fourth-generation fighters from Russia to boost its inventory and gain technical experience. China bought a number of Su-27, Su-30MKK, and Su-35 fighters from Russia between 1992 and 2015 and began making its own versions of those jets as soon as it got them. China has about 800 modern jets and over a thousand old jets. The modern jets are of the same standard as the Russian jets which are currently underperforming in Ukraine. China has to now expect that their “modern” Russian jets and their copies of those jets are crappy planes that are vulnerable to cheap Stinger missiles. Stinger missiles cost about $120,000 each. It seems that the Russian Su-27, Su-30MKK, and Su-35 fighters are vulnerable to Stinger anti-air missiles.

Taiwan will likely load up with more combat drones with missile launching capabilities.

In WW2, the Allied D-day invasion landed over 132,000 soldiers to outnumber the German defenders by 3 to 1. The Allies suffered up to 10,000 casualties on D-Day. The Allies hit the beaches with soldiers that usually had one year to three years of constant combat experience. The US troops had about a year in North Africa and the British troops had been fighting longer. It would be a slaughter for China to have troops go from zero military conflict in the last 40 years and then dial it up to eleven for a military difficult challenge. Russia fought smaller wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea before going for the larger Ukraine War. Russia’s military is still failing to perform at the larger scale. Organization, training and planning failures are all over the Russian operation. China has a bunch of soldiers and marines who have spoiled only child syndrome.

Taiwan is doubling its Harpoon missile inventory to 500. The Harpoon is considered among the best and most advanced missiles in America’s arsenal. Harpoons are antiship missiles. Harpoon missiles cost about $1.4 million each.

Taiwan has forty new Paladin mobile howitzer artillery. The M109A6 Paladin is capable of firing up to four rounds per minute to ranges of 30 kilometers (16 miles). The US has precision munition upgrades for these guns.

Taiwan is mass-producing domestic land based antiship missiles. The current-model Hsiung Feng II and III missiles and mobile launchers are being deployed from 2022 to 2026. The second phase is the mass production of extended-range (400 km, 240 mile) Hsiung Feng III missiles and mobile launchers from 2023 to 2026.

How many troops can China’s fleet of amphibious landing crafts carry? 25000 total. Mostly 250 each with a few at 800 and 1200. Total of 78 ships. NOTE: China only currently has about 40,000 marines in total. China has been working to increase marines from 20,000 towards 100,000. It could take another 5-10 years to reach that 100,000 marine goal.

How fast are the amphibious landing craft? About 25 knots per hour. Several older ones are slower.

How long will it take them to cross the Taiwan Strait? Three hours or four hours for older ships. Helicopters can cr

Can Taiwan see the dozens or hundreds of ships assembling via real-time satellite? Yes

Three Type 075 landing helicopter dock, 1200 troops and 30 helicopters each. 3600 total
Eight Type 071 amphibious transport dock (LPD), 500-800 troops each. Four helicopters and vehicles. 6400 total
Fifteen Type 072A dock landing ship (LSD), 250 troops each. 3750 total
Ten Type 072III dock landing ship (LSD), 250 troops each. 2500
Three Type 072II tank landing ship (LST), 250 troops or ten tanks. 750 total
Type 073III helicopter landing ship (LSH), 250 troop. 250 total
Eleven Type 074A medium landing ship (LSM), 18 knots (4 hours to cross), 250 troops each. 2750 total
Seventeen other older. Slower but able to carry 250 each. 4250 total.

A total of 78 ships to move about 25000 marines/soldiers.

About 300 Troop transport helicopters. About 30-37 soldiers in each for another 10000.

About 520 attack and recon helicopters.

China can transport about 34000 troops.

China has about twenty Y20 cargo planes. Those planes could deliver maybe 6000 troops or paratroopers.

Taiwan’s Massive Underground Complexes

Here is a 77 page document about Taiwan’s old 2014 Defense Strategy.

The Tri-Service Hengshan Military Command Center is the sprawling tunnel facility stretches through the mountain in a line that starts near the Grand Hotel and goes down to the giant Ferris wheel in Dazhi. It was built to defend against China’s growing fleet of ballistic missiles. This hardened nerve center is designed to allow Taiwan’s government (and thousands of military personnel) to live and work for months.

It is linked to a large network of subterranean command posts and military bases around Taiwan and its outer islands.

On the other side of Taipei, buried inside a wet rocky outcropping near the campus of National Taiwan University, lies another tunnel complex, the Air Operations Center. It is known as “Toad Mountain” by Taiwanese air force officers. This facility oversees one of the most robust air and missile defense networks on the planet.

Taiwan has airborne early-warning aircraft, long-range radars, listening posts, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellites. Toad Mountain stands constant watch over all of Taiwan’s airspace, ready to scramble fighters or assign surface-to-air missiles to intercept intruders. And, like every other Taiwanese military facility, it has multiple back-ups.

Chiashan or Optimal Mountain is another bunker complex. The base is an entire military city built inside a hollowed-out mountain. Not only does it have space inside for parking, arming, and repairing over two hundred fighter aircraft, it also has its own hospital and multiple gas stations serving jet fuel.

Shihzishan or “Stone Mountain” complex at Chihhang Air Base tunnels can still shelter some eighty aircraft.

Each Taiwanese airbase has large engineering units attached to it with ample stocks of equipment for rapidly repairing runways. They have set records for under three hour runway repair.

In 2012, Taiwan’s new ultra high frequency (UHF) radar system was able to track a North Korean missile and provide the U.S. and Japanese warships with 120 seconds of extra warning time.

SOURCES- Brian Wang analysis, Wikipedia and other sources on ship numbers and missiles costs
Written by Brian Wang,

79 thoughts on “Simple Counting Shows China Cannot Successfully Invade Taiwan”

  1. Americans get lied to every day. That is why we can tell you that you aren't very good at it. I doubt your comrades buy it either.

  2. Good point about the possibility of commandeering civilian craft. Although, losing them has an economic impact down the line.
    But there's still only a finite number of beaches that conventional landing craft can use (~17% of the coast line world wide, not sure about Taiwan) and maybe twice that for hovercraft. Just putting them on a fishing boat doesn't get them to the beach, commercial fishing boats need some fairly deepwater piers to tie up to.
    The landing points become killing fields very quickly, assuming the Taiwanese have artillery dialed in already.

    And yes, I did study this a bit, two tours as an officer on US amphibs and a lot of reading since. Vagts' __Landing Operations__ is one of the tomes on my bookshelf.

  3. China has no ICBMs capable of reaching ports in the region?
    ICBMs rely on a deep water port somehow?

  4. Because China does not have a nuclear force able to do that as its doesnt have a deep water port like Taiwan

  5. Taiwan has Tunnels, Caves, Mountains & Dense Urban Areas
    China would have to use a localized bioweapon

  6. Hong Kong is not over. The CCP is going to solve the housing crisis there with massive investment as to set an example for Taiwan on what could be

  7. Chinese population doesn’t begin to decline rapidly until after 2060. Plenty of time for fascist pro birth policies until then.

  8. Lying this much to yourself and coping on the rationality of the CCP is the reason the West was caught off balance in Ukraine and Afghanistan. The CCP is very reasonable and Xi is a very reasonable man. He is Chinese, not an American politician.

  9. Good analysis. Don’t forget fishing boats. They will use civilians boats, to include ferries and fishing vessels and other craft to decentralize the invasion and land as many troops on the beach as possible. Asymmetric campaign.

  10. China isn’t going to take Taiwan this year. It will likely be in 10 years or more, after they expand their landing fleet, navy and marine corps.

  11. Now, we are all assuming conventional plans.

    My invasion would go as follows. Preposition cargo vessels loaded with troops out to see. Have the North Koreans start some crud. Three nukes are detonated above Taiwan…100 mi 50 mi 10 mi up. No Chinese Navy ships move. The disguise ships disgorge the troops…the dead filling those same ships…which are hurriedly scuttled.

    The Chinese Navy then comes in when communications are restored and seemingly met and welcomed by “locals” in a glorious photo op.

  12. Had the CCP respected it's promise to allow Hong Kong internal autonomy, Taiwan might have eventually accepted a similar deal. I guess the Commies blew that one!

  13. Taiwan is a fortress, 75 years in the making. There is no telling what installations exist, other than what is public information. Taiwan may have deliverable to the mainland nuclear weapons.

    The citizens of the Chinese Republic know what has happened to their friends, and relatives on the mainland. Many civilians would die defending themselves, and their families rather than be captured.

    There are certainly many assault rifles, and other small arms waiting for irregulars(citizens of both sexes, able to aim a weapon). There are also many discharged soldiers ready to fight.

  14. We've sadly had to get used to NBF having a shaky grasp of units and similar in the rapid summary of the source materials.

  15. I think the implication is that they do not have to replicate the Manhattan project in [short time frame]. Because they would have already done 95% of the work short of fabricating the fissile components.
    Design, control circuitry, even much of the testing of implosion devices could already be done.

  16. One of the main points I made was that disrupting Taiwan Semiconductor and the flow of advanced chips trigger US intervention. Weeks of missile and air strikes does disrupt Taiwan Semiconductor. all of tech and big tech would crash 30 to 80% because of the uncertainty around chip supply. Big tech is 50% of the Nasdaq and a large chunk of the S and P. Everyone’s investment and retirement accounts would take a 30% or greater hit. If the fabs got hit it would be even worse. I already said that trying to land troops gets most killed before they touch the beach or land. Once they are there then they are outnumbered and killed. If the US is helping then no ships make it only some choppers and those people are outnumbered 15 to one. Now from the Ukraine situation we know that most of China Russia and Russian derived planes are crap. China would be going on with inexperienced pilots. Taiwan would be taking them out with stingers and if the US was more actively helping the China would not be able to establish air superiority. The US would establish a no fly zone because of the importance of Taiwan semiconductor

  17. I suspect China would cheat, putting a lot more men on the larger transports, using other military vessels to land men and using ferry's and other commercial vessels. As the UK did when retaking the Falklands.

  18. Since blockading China's oil supply would be taken as an act of war, why wouldn't China retaliate by launching nukes at every US naval base in the region, as well as any port willing and able to service US ships? While retaining a healthy reserve of ICBMs to deter the US from being crazy enough to launch nukes at mainland China, of course.

    How long does the oil blockade of China last after that? Sure, we've got some nuclear ships and subs – so maybe they could tow some of the oil burners around as artillery and anti-aircraft platforms to continue the oil blockade mission?

    In fact, might not the threat of China nuking all those bases/ports be enough to deter the US from continuing the blockade?

  19. Same thing again probably.
    It's much cheaper and easier to destroy things than it is to create them.
    Satellites are fragile. All it takes is a few grams of matter or some directed energy. China has already tested their anti-sat weapons.

  20. Assessing China's military capabilities is made very difficult by the Chinese being very careful about the information they give out, you could equally make the opposite case. China have no interest in taking Taiwan militarily in any case, they will be able to subsume it into China without military action. If you lived in SE Asia, as I do, you'd have little difficulty seeing which way the wind is blowing.

  21. Honestly, we should recognize Taiwanese independence. Otherwise, we are just setting up another Ukraine. When the bombs start dropping I don't know if we would get involved or not.

    It would depend on the president at the time. Trump recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel and that will change Syria's future calculations. We need to do the same for Taiwan unless we are ok will a second Ukraine in 10 or 20 years.

    Trading with totalitarian states like China and Russia is dumb.

  22. I don't think the World would care much if China took over North Korea (other than concerns that they might not stop there). Battling for Taiwan would be a disaster for everyone.
    North Koreans have been so brainwashed, it would be a challenge to address that crazed loyalty.

  23. There are ways it can be done, not at the moment. They would have to build equipment, but I don't want to give them any ideas, and in any case, it would be very costly in lost equipment and people. Almost certainly not worth it, vs simply investing in some area of China to compete in the same industries.

    Of course, there are ugly ways to do it that kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. You need the people of Taiwan with minds and bodies intact, as well as infrastructure, so they can keep doing the things they have been doing. Taiwan is not worth much as rubble and corpses.

  24. There are some retrotech options China could use overwhelming numbers of maybe cannon fodder. I hope Taiwan wargamers are creative enough to consider these to counter. Massive number (100,000?) of stealth wooden paratroop gliders… Concrete submarines for beach landings…

  25. I assume that if China were to move against Taiwan then old enemies would put aside historic differences to defend the region.

  26. Taiwan's fertility is even lower than China's. So this is actually another factor that benefits China.

  27. Taiwan does not have 400 fighter jets. They have about 200 and most are obsolete or borderline obsolete. They have about 60 modern F-16V models.

    They also have 29 Apache AH-64E.

  28. "More likely China would lob missiles for a month in an attempt to force Taiwan to unify.

    Like they would like to deal with mass casualties and consequences of that month bombardment? Seems unlikely.

  29. the consensus is that the hardest part is getting enough enriched u235. Or at least Pu239, which is less convenient and has to be refurbished every decade due to some decay , etc. However, you still need the implosion device. The physics is kinda known but the devil is in the details. Until you make a few detonations you don't know for sure whether your setup works. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few deliberate leaks with minor engineering details with introduced errors and dead-ends.

    But yes, if the US managed to get results from the Manhattan Project in 3 years where the science was still very speculative and the technological level was much lower. It is plausible that a well-financed research facility might do it today in 6 months. Or a small group might achieve in a 10 years time. You reduce the enrichment scale by extending it in time. Sounds like a good James Bond script

  30. "How fast are the amphibious landing craft? About 25 knots per hour." A "knot" is a nautical mile per hour. "Knots per hour" is a measure of acceleration, not speed. Although this is a minor error it distracts from the overall credibility of the analysis. The picture of the Chinese amphibious assault ship looks remarkably similar to the US LPD-17 Class which I helped design.

  31. Strikes me as unlikely short of an all out invasion, since the world economy is much more entangled with China, (By design!) than it ever was with Russia.

    We'll be years rerouting supply lines and reshoring production, before we can sanction China without a world-wide depression.

  32. What I been saying. 2 nukes would go a LONG way. Or do what Japan is trying and host US Nukes.
    Nevermind there are obviously US missiles subs nearby. Or they have to suspect

  33. You have to ship the civilians to the meat grinder. Lots of only children dying and family lines going extinct. Not something mom and dad are going to like.

  34. Yes but the best military strategy achieves nothing concrete while angering the whole world for a month.

  35. Firstly of all there wouldn't be any Fabs left in Taiwan after an invasion.
    Secondly nobody could buy chips from Fabs that no longer exist in Taiwan.

  36. Carnival cruises and others aren’t filling up yet. They can buy a few first class accommodations for their troops

  37. Every Taiwanese adults has had military training. The Chinese have limited experience doing an amphibious invasion. Fighting in Taiwan will be uphill all the way.

  38. China just subjected its own citizens to Covid, it will have no qualms about sending a few million more into a meat grinder war with Taiwan.

    Military exercises will begin and some feigned provocation will occur. China will then use this as a pretense To invade.

  39. Its a separate country the we avoid officially recognizing so we don't piss off an aggressive nuclear super power, that's its status.

  40. Time is hardly on their side if you look at their demographic collapse. Turns out they weren't able to shut "One Child" off like a light switch, the way they thought they could. Last year they recorded a record low birth rate; The fifth record in a row, as it happens. Their generation of single children are aging out of fertility without replacing themselves.

    In fact, their total population is expected to start shrinking, this near or next.

    They might privately think Covid was a lucky break; It's so heavily loaded in terms of killing the elderly, that it's doing a fantastic job of fixing their skewed age demographics, which were going to be unmanageably old in a few years.

    Not that we're better off in terms of fertility at the moment. But probably more hope of fixing it.

  41. And, the US would station two destroyers at the entrance to the inner island chain stopping oil tankers. Within 2 months, the Chinese would run out of fuel. And, 3 months later all the lights in China would go out.

  42. The people who run those factories would be airlifted out at the start of hostilities. And, the Chinese would be left with big empty factories they cannot run.

  43. There are 3 major domestic chip foundries coming online in Arizona, Texas and Ohio. They will change the picture completely.

  44. Look, nobody takes seriously the notion that it's a rebellious part of China. Even China likely views that as just a pretext.

  45. Yea it would not be very funny with China owning the chip fabrication for 90% of the worlds supply. After a couple of months the the us industry would be crippled and military production would grind to a halt. Better learn Mandarin cause from that point on the west would flounder.

  46. Initial attrition would give the USA plenty of time to react. We can already see US politicians salivating over the idea of attacking Russia because of Ukraine. Ukraine is not a strategic concern for the US. Taiwan is.
    The jingo alarms would sound. There would be talk of Domino Theory returning. We could see a national effort in the US to stop China.

    China would not survive the sanction levels on Russia.
    US could detain oil tankers from the Persian Gulf headed for China. After the first one is successfully boarded, gas prices within China would skyrocket. Not $7 a gallon either. More like $50 a gallon overnight. China's economy halts.

  47. Well, China has not involved itself in military adventures since china vs vietnam in 1979. They were not so circumspect through most of history.

  48. Agreed .. Time is on Chinas side they can wait 50 years if necessary, China has not involved itself in military adventures.

  49. Agree, China would get to do it using a strategy that gives it the greatest advantage, initially attrition, destroying bridges and roads to impede defenders movement around the island, taking the time to degrade Taiwan's air force and navy, especially radar. Copy desert storm, not make Putin's numerous mistakes.

  50. I have no knowledge of military analysis, so I cannot evaluate any of this. However, I wonder whether China could get enough saboteurs into Taiwan prior to starting overt hostilities to degrade Taiwan's ability to oppose an invasion. Have the effects of saboteurs been included in this analysis?

  51. China has the most important thing to capitalism – the market. Soon it will be in the Taiwanese best interest to unify. 25 years or so.

  52. But in what grounds. If it is a separate country, well it is aid. But if it is a rebellious party of China that is close to act of aggression. And if , say China attacks it out were be hard to condemn such an attack.

    How dare you to attacj a sovereign country. Oops , we don't recognize it as a country. Not cool, bro. That's ridiculous.

  53. China will most likely take Taiwan in the 2030s. They have no real reason to rush as time is on their side. Consider:

    1. China has the strongest industrial base in the world, and with the dominance of drones and missiles, that means they will dominate future battlefields.
    2. Taiwan has a lower birth rate than China and so will have a stagnant pool of soldiers to draw upon. China spends very little GDP on military, so they can afford to grow it massively when they decide to do so.
    3. With drones and missiles, China can destroy Taiwan's power grid, and blockade the island.
    4 . America is clearly in decline, which I am starting to think the decline is irreversible.

    I don't know how many weeks or months of hunger and darkness the Taiwanese can endure, but it is certain that the PRC can outlast them.

  54. Putin, Xi or Biden?

    Who has more problem with the truth?
    Who already proved to be a liar, an ideologue and a generically bad person?
    Who is acting like a desperate man looking for a scapegoat to justify his failures.

    And the second in line is even worse.

    At this rate, by the end of his mandate, the US will be in the darkest crisis after the Civil War

  55. Question,
    when did US recognize Taiwan as a country ? Before providing any military aid, I would first clarify the stance

  56. No general is going to stand in Xi’s office and explain to him how bad an idea an invasion is.

    No economist is going to go into that same office and tell him how dependent China is on Taiwan’s economy.

    People like Xi and Putin don’t deal well with the truth—either accepting it or delivering it.

  57. Brian a more charitable version of how China takes Taiwan would involve weeks of missile strikes, to degrade defenders, control of the air and sea in the Taiwan straight followed up by landing a force somewhere on Taiwan to establish a beachhead, to be followed up by constant reinforcements.

    Problem being that China has to deal with weeks of political and economic fallout before making an attempt to begin the process of unifying via force. China's pain is frontloaded and the gain is backloaded.

    Putin's plan was to do this all very quickly- topple Kyiv before Europe woke up and realized that they had a ground war on the continent. By the time Brussels could drink their morning coffee it would all be over. That's why the prolonged conflict is bad for Russia. You get the military and economic pain without the political benefit.

  58. For that short of a trip, you can probably double the number of troops the dedicated gators can carry. Also, the British routinely used destroyers and cruisers to carry troops to the beach – the issue being number of troops they could carry and how fast they can offload. Issues that lead to the development of the gator navy of dedicated amphibious assault ships. But that doesn't mean the Chinese couldn't carry more troops on their tin cans, especially over short distances. Nor do all of the troops need to be marines, regular army can get their feet wet too.

    Still Brian is probably correct on the outcome, the assault ships will be targeted by anti-ship missiles and there are only a few places where a seaborne assault can take place on any stretch of coast. The odds are against it working.

    But I didn't think Putin would bother with a full blown invasion either, so I may be wrong.

  59. "Apple, Nvidia and all the other tech companies would get on the phone to tell their political servants that any disruption of Taiwan Semiconductor is unacceptable."

    That would be funny if it weren't completely true.

  60. Don't like Taiwan having nukes? Then ban their chips from your economy!

    (laughs in traditional Mandarin)

  61. Just let Taiwan get nukes. When China complains point them to North Korea (and soon enough Iran).

    Personally I am not convinced that the PLAN/PLA could pull off an amphibious invasion. China's last war was with Vietnam 40+ years ago and China lost. Russia has serious issues in Ukraine and that is with a large land border and months of buildup.

    More likely China would lob missiles for a month in an attempt to force Taiwan to unify.

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