Getting Ready for a Long War: Why a US-China Fight in the Western Pacific Won’t End Quickly

A war over Taiwan is likely to be long, not short; regional, not localized; and far more easily started than ended. It would expand and escalate as both countries look for paths to victory in a conflict they feel they cannot afford to lose. It would present severe war-termination dilemmas and involve far higher risks of going nuclear than many Americans realize. If Washington doesn’t start preparing to wage, and then end, a protracted conflict now, it could face catastrophe once the shooting starts.

Hal Brands and Michael Beckley

The United States is finally getting serious about the threat of war with China. The Pentagon has labeled China its “pacing challenge” and is crafting new deterrence concepts to hold the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at bay.1 Civilian leaders have directed the US military to develop credible plans to defend Taiwan, the most likely site of a clash for geopolitical primacy in Asia.2 President Joe Biden has strongly implied that America would not allow that island democracy to be conquered; other officials have stated it would be a terrible mistake if Beijing used force to alter the status quo.3 Opinion polls show that a bare majority of Americans now favor defending Taiwan if it were attacked.4 Keeping the US-China rivalry cold, it increasingly appears, will require deterring—by preparing to win—a hot war.5

Yet Washington may be preparing for the wrong kind of war. The Pentagon and many defense planners appear to be focused on winning a short, localized conflict in the Taiwan Strait. That would mean riding out an opening missile blitz, blunting a Chinese invasion, and thereby forcing Beijing to relent. Chinese leaders, for their part, seem to envision rapid, paralyzing strikes that break Taiwanese resistance and present the United States with a fait accompli. Both sides would prefer a splendid little war in the western Pacific, but that is not the sort of war they will get.

A war over Taiwan is likely to be long, not short; regional, not localized; and far more easily started than ended. It would expand and escalate as both countries look for paths to victory in a conflict they feel they cannot afford to lose. It would present severe war-termination dilemmas and involve far higher risks of going nuclear than many Americans realize. If Washington doesn’t start preparing to wage, and then end, a protracted conflict now, it could face catastrophe once the shooting starts.

This chapter proceeds in four parts. First, we explain why a US-China war is likely to turn into a protracted slugfest, almost regardless of what happens in its opening phases. Second, we offer an analysis, informed by history, of how great-power wars evolve and expand as the fighting drags on—and how a US-China war could follow the historical pattern. Third, we explain why nuclear weapons won’t necessarily impede a major US-China war and outline three plausible paths to nuclear escalation. Finally, we discuss the requirements of success in a long conflict.6

The Logic of Protraction

A US-China war over Taiwan would begin with a bang.7 China’s military doctrine emphasizes coordinated operations to “paralyze the enemy in one stroke.”8

In the most worrying scenario, Beijing would launch a surprise missile attack, hammering not only Taiwan’s defenses but also the American naval and air forces concentrated at a few large bases in the western Pacific. Simultaneous Chinese cyberattacks and anti-satellite operations would sow chaos and hinder any effective US or Taiwanese response. And the PLA would race through the window of opportunity, staging amphibious and airborne assaults that would overwhelm Taiwanese resistance. By the time the United States was ready to fight, the war might effectively be over.9

The Pentagon’s planning increasingly revolves around preventing this scenario. It aims to harden and disperse the US military presence in Asia and develop the ability to blunt the PLA’s offensive capabilities and sink an invasion fleet.10 The United States also seeks to encourage Taiwan to field asymmetric capabilities—including road-mobile anti-ship missile launchers, mines, and small missile-armed ships—that can inflict a severe toll on Chinese attackers. This planning is predicated on the assumption that the early weeks, if not days, of fighting would determine whether a free Taiwan survives.

Yet whatever happens at the outset, a conflict almost certainly wouldn’t end quickly. Most great-power wars since the Industrial Revolution have lasted longer than expected, because modern states have the resources to fight on even when they suffer heavy losses. Moreover, in hegemonic wars—clashes for dominance between the world’s strongest states—the stakes are high because the future of the international system is at issue, and the price of defeat may seem prohibitive.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, wars between leading powers—the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, and the World Wars—were protracted slugfests. Although not technically a great-power conflict, the US Civil War was also a long, bloody slog.11 And the last time America and China fought a major war, in Korea, the conflict was one of unrelenting attrition rather than rapid annihilation. A modern US-China war would likely follow this pattern.

If the United States managed to beat back a Chinese assault against Taiwan, Beijing wouldn’t simply give up. Starting a war over Taiwan would be an existential political gamble for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The nationalist narrative that the CCP has sold to the Chinese people emphasizes the party’s commitment to make China “whole” again by taking back territories lost during the “century of humiliation” (1839–1949).

President Xi Jinping has declared explicitly that the Taiwan problem cannot be passed down generation to generation. In 2017, he announced that “reunification” is an inevitable requirement for “achiev[ing] the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”12 Admitting defeat to what Xi deems Taiwanese renegades and American imperialists would therefore jeopardize the regime’s legitimacy and Xi’s hold on power—perhaps even his life. A heavy defeat that wiped out a significant chunk of China’s air and naval forces would leave China more vulnerable to its rivals, whether advocates of Taiwanese independence or countries such as India, Japan, and Vietnam. It would destroy China’s dreams of regional primacy for years to come. Continuing a hard fight against the United States would be a nasty prospect, but quitting while China was behind would seem even worse. So Xi’s government would have every incentive to gamble for resurrection, doubling down on its efforts to win the conflict rather than accepting a politically fatal defeat.

Washington would also be inclined to fight on if the war were not going well. Washington, like Beijing, would view a war over Taiwan—the fulcrum of the balance of power in the western Pacific—as a fight for dominance of a crucial region. The fact that such a war would probably begin with a Pearl Harbor–style missile attack on US bases would make it even harder for an outraged American populace and its leaders to accept a quick defeat. Even if the United States failed to prevent Chinese forces from seizing Taiwan, it couldn’t easily bow out of the war. Quitting without first severely damaging Chinese air and naval power in Asia would badly weaken Washington’s reputation and its ability to defend remaining allies in the region. The United States might well fear that admitting defeat would mean the end of its influence in the world’s most economically dynamic region.

Protraction isn’t simply a matter of will, of course; it is also a matter of ability. And both sides, in fact, would have the capacity to keep fighting. The United States could take advantage of its overall military primacy, summoning ships, planes, and submarines from other theaters to make up for initial losses. It could use its command of the Pacific beyond the first island chain—which runs from Japan in the north through Taiwan and the Philippines to the south—to conduct sustained attacks on Chinese forces while remaining out of range of Beijing’s most formidable defenses. It could deploy relatively invulnerable assets, such as attack submarines and stealth aircraft, to keep the pressure on and pound Chinese forces relentlessly.

For its part, China could dispatch its surviving air, naval, and missile forces for a second and third assault on Taiwan and press its maritime militia of coast guard and fishing vessels into service. China could also use the strategic depth of the mainland as a giant base from which to operate in a long war. Both the United States and China would emerge from these initial clashes bloodied but not exhausted, increasing the likelihood of a long, ugly war.

What Happens Next

When great-power wars drag on, they get bigger, messier, and more intractable. In a US-China conflict, expect to see four dangerous dynamics.

First, long wars become more economically consuming as time goes on, with all the societal effects that follow. After the initial salvos, the combatants would race to rearm by replenishing stocks of vital weapons and, if necessary, manpower. (This was, for instance, the dynamic that played out after the initial offensives failed to decide World War I in the summer and fall of 1914.) This massive mobilization effort compels them to retool their economies and whip up patriotic fervor in their populations.

A Sino-American war would see hurried efforts to replace munitions, ships, submarines, and aircraft expended or lost in the early fighting. This arms race would place immense strain on both countries’ industrial bases, demand the reorientation of their domestic economies, and evoke nationalist appeals—or the use of government compulsion—to mobilize the people for the long and grinding struggle ahead.

Second, long wars expand and escalate as the combatants look for new sources of leverage and new ways of forcing each other to concede. Belligerents open new fronts, in hopes of outflanking their opponent; they rope additional allies into the fight, in hopes of decisively shifting the balance of forces in their favor. They expand their range of targets and worry less about civilian casualties. Sometimes they explicitly target civilians, whether by bombing cities or torpedoing civilian ships. And they use naval blockades, sanctions, and embargoes to starve the enemy into submission. The World Wars followed this logic. They ultimately dragged in countries on every inhabited continent and repeatedly crossed new thresholds of violence, coercion, and terror. To bring Japan to its knees, for example, the United States firebombed most of Japan’s major cities, imposed a blockade code-named “Operation Starvation” that cut Japan off from 97 percent of its imports, and dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.13 In a war today, if China and the United States unload on each other with nearly every tool at their disposal, as they almost surely would do, a local war would quickly turn into a whole-of-society brawl that spans multiple regions.

The first island chain is a string of islands central to America’s Indo-Pacific defensive posture. The second island chain contains the US island territory of Guam.

Third, as wars get bigger and longer, war aims become more grandiose. The greater the sacrifices required to win the war, the better the peace must be to justify those sacrifices. Indeed, one of the ways governments try to rally their populaces is by promising that victory will deliver vast rewards and lasting security. What begins as a US campaign to defend Taiwan could easily turn into an effort to render China incapable of new aggression by totally destroying its navy, air force, and offensive missile forces. Conversely, as the Pentagon inflicts more damage on China and its military, Beijing’s war aims could grow from conquering Taiwan to pushing Washington out of the western Pacific entirely.

These dynamics lead to a final problem: War termination becomes devilishly difficult. Expanding war aims narrow, and perhaps eliminate, the diplomatic space for a settlement. Protracted bloodshed intensifies hatred and mistrust. Allies may stand in the way of a peace that prejudices their own objectives.

This pattern has played out many times in the past. World War I became exhausting for the combatants long before most of them were willing to call it quits. In the Korean War, the front lines stabilized in early 1951, but the fighting dragged on for two more years amid inconclusive peace talks. In other words, even when US and Chinese leaders begin to sense that further fighting is undesirable, they may not be able to find a mutually acceptable peace settlement to bring the bloodshed to an end.

The Path to Armageddon

A war between China and the United States would differ from previous hegemonic wars in one fundamental respect: Both sides have nuclear weapons. On first glance, one might assume that a situation of mutually assured destruction would prevent a US-China war from escalating. Both sides might cap their war aims short of the enemy’s complete defeat and humiliation, because they understand that the decisive outcomes and total conquests that marked the World Wars are unachievable in the 21st century, even as the logic of mobilization pushes them to enlarge their ambitions. But it is a mistake to think that nuclear weapons will eliminate the dangers inherent in a long war; they could, in fact, compound them.

For starters, both sides may feel free to unload the full weight of their conventional arsenals on each other under the assumption that their nuclear arsenals shield them from massive retaliation. Scholars call this the stability-instability paradox, a situation in which blind faith in nuclear deterrence unleashes a massive conventional war.

China and the United States aren’t immune to this trap. To the contrary, Chinese military writings often suggest that the PLA could wipe out US bases in East Asia and sink American aircraft carriers, killing thousands in the process, while China’s nuclear arsenal deters the United States from attacking targets on the Chinese mainland. Meanwhile, some American strategists have called for striking Chinese mainland bases early and hard in a war while assuming that US nuclear superiority would deter China from responding in kind.14 Far from preventing a major US-China war, nuclear weapons could catalyze it.

Once that war is underway, it could escalate to nuclear use in at least one of three ways. First, whichever side is losing would be tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons—low-yield warheads that could destroy specific military targets without obliterating the recipient’s homeland—to turn the tide of battle. That was how the United States planned to halt a Soviet invasion of Central Europe during the Cold War. It was what Israel considered doing during the 1973 Yom Kippur War with Egypt, and it is what North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia have suggested they would do if they were losing a war today. If China crippled US conventional forces in East Asia and were poised to overrun Taiwan, the United States might make a desperate gamble to avoid defeat by using tactical nuclear weapons against Chinese ports, airfields, or invasion fleets. This is no fantasy: The US military is already developing nuclear-tipped, submarine-launched cruise missiles that could be used for such purposes.

China would be even more likely than the United States to use nuclear weapons to try to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Beijing has long claimed it would never use nuclear weapons first in a war. Yet the words and deeds of its military suggest otherwise: The PLA has recently embarked on an unprecedented expansion of its nuclear arsenal, including the development of tactical nuclear options, and PLA officers have written that China could use nuclear weapons if a conventional war threatened the survival of its government or nuclear arsenal—which would almost surely be the case if China appeared to be losing a protracted war over Taiwan.15

Perhaps these unofficial claims are bluffs. Yet it is not hard to imagine that, in the heat of battle and when facing the annihilation of its navy and the prospect of a humiliating defeat that permanently separates Taiwan from the mainland, China would fire off a nuclear weapon (perhaps at or near America’s huge military base on Guam) to regain tactical advantage or shock the United States into a cease-fire. Indeed, a “demonstration shot”—the use of one or a small number of nuclear weapons over the ocean or in ways that do not cause massive destruction and casualties—might be especially appealing as a means of signaling that even more intense escalation will follow absent a resolution of the conflict on China’s terms.

As the conflict drags on, either side could also use the ultimate weapon to end a grinding war of attrition. During the Korean War, American leaders repeatedly contemplated dropping nuclear bombs on China to force it to accept a cease-fire or simply gain a decisive edge on the battlefield. It was the lack of suitable targets, as much as any moral consideration, that ultimately precluded this coercive nuclear use.16 Today, the United States and China are the world’s two largest economies and are full of appealing targets for nuclear attack. Both countries would thus have the option of using limited nuclear strikes to compel a stubborn opponent to concede. In fact, the incentives to do so could be strong, given that whichever side pulls the nuclear trigger first might gain a major and perhaps irreversible advantage.

A final route to nuclear war is inadvertent escalation. Each side, knowing that escalation is a risk, may try to limit the other’s nuclear options. The United States could, for instance, try to sink China’s ballistic-missile submarines before they hide in the deep waters beyond the first island chain. Yet such an attack could put China in a “use it or lose it” situation with regard to its nuclear forces, especially if the United States also struck China’s land-based missiles and communication systems, which intermingle conventional and nuclear forces.17

Even if the United States tried to avoid threatening China’s nuclear arsenal, any US attack on Chinese mainland bases, missile forces, and command centers could be misinterpreted as an attempt to cripple China’s nuclear forces. In this scenario, China’s leaders might use their nuclear weapons rather than risk losing that option altogether.18 The risk of inadvertent escalation may recede over time, because China has ambitious plans to quadruple the size of its nuclear arsenal and diversify its forces into an indestructible triad of ground-, air-, and submarine-launched missiles.19 But for now, its arsenal is relatively small and vulnerable, which could make the prospect of losing its nuclear capabilities loom larger.

To be clear, we don’t really know how nuclear escalation would unfold in a US-China conflict, because such a war has never occurred. It could be, for instance, that officials on both sides conclude that any nuclear exchange is unlikely to remain limited, which restrains them from using nuclear weapons in the first place.20 Or it could be that the same conclusion pushes one side to use nuclear weapons more dramatically, for fear of losing a significant first-mover advantage. We will be in uncharted territory if two nuclear powers come to blows. The only certainty is that a long conflict will introduce unprecedented dangers.

Preparing for a Long War

There is no easy way to prepare for a long war with an inherently unpredictable course and dynamics. Yet the United States and its allies can do four things to get ready for whatever comes—and, hopefully, prevent the worst from happening.

First, Washington can win the race to reload. China will be much less likely to go to war if it knows it will be outgunned as the conflict drags on. Washington and Taipei should therefore aggressively stockpile ammunition and supplies. For the United States, the crucial assets are missiles capable of sinking China’s most valuable ships and aircraft from afar. For Taiwan, the key weapons are short-range missiles, mortars, mines, and rocket launchers that can decimate invasion fleets. Both nations also need to be ready to churn out new weapons in wartime.21 Taiwanese factories will be obvious targets for Chinese missiles, so the United States should enlist the industrial might of other allies. Japan’s shipbuilding capacity, for example, could be retooled to produce simple missile barges rapidly and on a massive scale.

Second, Washington should demonstrate the ability to hang tough. The United States and Taiwan need to be ready to ride out a protracted Chinese punishment campaign. In a long war, China could try to strangle Taiwan with a blockade, bombard it into submission, or take down US and Taiwanese electrical grids and telecommunications networks with cyberattacks. It could use conventionally armed, hypersonic missiles to attack targets in the American homeland. Preventing such coercion from succeeding will require defensive preparations, such as securing critical networks, expanding Taiwan’s system of civilian shelters, and enlarging its stockpiles of fuel, food, and medical supplies. It also will require preparing both the US and Taiwanese populations psychologically for what could be a long and bloody conflict.

Breaking a Chinese campaign of coercion also requires threatening Beijing with painful retaliation. A third objective, therefore, is to own the escalation ladder. By preparing to blockade Chinese commerce and cut Beijing off from markets and technology in wartime, America and its allies can threaten to turn an extended conflict into an economic catastrophe for China. Beijing imports nearly 75 percent of its oil and 45 percent of its natural gas. Most of this is shipped through narrow choke points, such as the Strait of Malacca, far from Chinese mainland bases. The US military, with its unparalleled power-projection capabilities and network of allies and partners, could demonstrate its ability to close off those choke points with peacetime military exercises.22

In addition, by preparing to sink Chinese naval vessels anywhere in the western Pacific and destroy Chinese military infrastructure in other regions, the United States can threaten a generation’s worth of Chinese military modernization. By bringing additional allies, whether located in the western Pacific or elsewhere, into the fight, the United States can drive up the long-term strategic cost to Beijing for continuing the war.23 And by developing the means to hit Chinese ports, airfields, and armadas with tactical nuclear weapons, the United States can deter China from initiating limited nuclear attacks. Washington should confront Beijing with a basic proposition: The longer a war lasts, the more devastation China will suffer.

Because controlling escalation will be essential, the United States also needs options that allow it to dial up the punishment without necessarily dialing up the violence. By subtly demonstrating it has the cyber capabilities to cripple China’s critical infrastructure and domestic security system, for example, the United States can threaten to bring the war home to Beijing. Similarly, by improving its ability to suppress Chinese air defenses near Taiwan with cyberattacks, electronic warfare, and directed energy weapons, the United States can increase its freedom of action—and help Taiwan break or simply survive a sustained Chinese blockade—while limiting the amount of physical destruction it wreaks on the mainland.24

All of these steps will ratchet up the intensity of the conflict. So, as a final preparation, Washington needs to counteract that effect by defining victory down. A war between nuclear-armed great powers won’t end with regime change or one side occupying the other’s capital. It will end with a negotiated compromise.

The simplest settlement would be a return to the status quo ante: China stops attacking Taiwan in exchange for a pledge that the island would not declare, and America would not endorse, formal independence. To sweeten the deal, the United States could offer to keep its forces off Taiwan and out of the Taiwan Strait. Xi would be able to tell the Chinese people that he had taught Taiwan and the United States a lesson, just as Deng Xiaoping justified a sloppy invasion of Vietnam in 1979 as a “punitive” expedition. The United States would have saved a vibrant and strategically positioned democracy. Both sides would save some face and live to see another day.

That may not be a fully satisfying end to a hard-fought conflict. It certainly wouldn’t bring an end to the larger Sino-American rivalry: The United States would be wise to view any such settlement as a cease-fire rather than a lasting peace. But in a long war between great powers, protecting America’s vital interests while avoiding outright catastrophe might have to be good enough.


  1. Jim Garamone, “China’s Capabilities Growth Shows Why U.S. Sees Nation as Pacing Challenge,” US Department of Defense, October 27, 2021,
  2. White House, “U.S. Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific,” January 2021,
  3. Doina Chiacu, “Blinken Warns of China’s ‘Increasingly Aggressive Actions’ Against Taiwan,” Reuters, April 11, 2021,; and BBC, “Biden Says U.S. Will Defend Taiwan If China Attacks,” October 22, 2021,
  4. Dina Smeltz and Craig Kafura, “For First Time, Half of Americans Favor Defending Taiwan If China Invades,” Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy, August 26, 2021,
  5. An earlier version of this chapter was published as Hal Brands and Michael Beckley, “Washington Is Preparing for the Wrong War with China: A Conflict Would Be Long and Messy,” Foreign Affairs, December 16, 2021, See also Hal Brands, “Win or Lose, U.S. War Against China or Russia Won’t Be Short,” Bloomberg Opinion, June 14, 2021, war-against-china-or-russia-won-t-be-short. The present version of the chapter has been considerably revised and expanded from the original.
  6. For other works on protracted great-power war in the US-China context, see Joshua Rovner, “A Long War in the East: Doctrine, Diplomacy, and Prospects for a Protracted Sino-American Conflict,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 29, no. 1 (2018); and Andrew Krepinevich, “Protracted Great-Power War: A Preliminary Assessment,” Center for a New American Security, February 5, 2020,
  7. Thomas Shugart and Javier Gonzalez, First Strike: China’s Missile Threat to U.S. Bases in Asia, Center for a New American Security, June 2017, dam/ethz/special-interest/gess/cis/center-for-securities-studies/resources/docs/CNAS-First%20Strike,%20China’s%20Missile%20Threat%20to%20US%20Bases%20in% 20Asia.pdf.
  8. Joshua Rovner, “Two Kinds of Catastrophe: Nuclear Escalation and Protracted War in Asia,” Journal of Strategic Studies 40, no. 5 (2017): 697; Jeffrey Engstrom, Systems Confrontation and System Destruction Warfare: How the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Seeks to Wage Modern Warfare, RAND Corporation, 2018,; and Alison A. Kaufman and Daniel M. Hartnett, Managing Conflict: Examining Recent PLA Writings on Escalation Control, Center for Naval Analyses, February 2016, 68, sti/pdfs/AD1005033.pdf. For an example, see Guangqian Peng and Youzhi Yao, eds., The Science of Military Strategy (Beijing, China: Military Science Publishing House, 2005), 327.
  9. Hal Brands and Michael Beckley, Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China (New York: W. W. Norton, 2022).
  10. David Ochmanek and Michael O’Hanlon, “Here’s the Strategy to Prevent China from Taking Taiwan,” Hill, December 8, 2021,
  11. Williamson Murray, “Strategies of Annihilation and Strategies of Attrition,” in Makers of Modern Strategy, ed. Hal Brands, 3rd ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, forthcoming).
  12. Xi Jinping, “Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” (speech, 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Beijing, China, October 18, 2017),
  13. Michael A. Glosny, “Strangulation from the Sea? A PRC Submarine Blockade of Taiwan,” International Security 28, no. 4 (Spring 2004): 145–46,
  14. Jan von Tol et al., AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, May 2010, publications/airsea-battle-concept/publication/1.
  15. Caitlin Talmadge, “Would China Go Nuclear? Assessing the Risk of Chinese Nuclear Escalation in a Conventional War with the United States,” International Security 41, no. 4 (Spring 2017): 50–92,
  16. Rosemary Foot, The Wrong War: American Policy and the Dimensions of the Korean Conflict, 1950–1953 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985).
  17. Tong Zhao and Li Bin, “The Underappreciated Risks of Entanglement: A Chinese Perspective,” in Entanglement: Russian and Chinese Perspectives on Non-Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Risks, ed. James Acton (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2017),
  18. Talmadge, “Would China Go Nuclear?”
  19. The foremost analysis on the risk of inadvertent nuclear escalation is Barry R. Posen, Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992).
  20. During the 1950s, for instance, fear that nuclear war would escalate explosively drove the United States to formulate plans for the massive use of nuclear weapons at the outset of a conflict. See Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945–1963 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).
  21. R. Robinson Harris et al., “Converting Merchant Ships to Missile Ships for the Win,” Proceedings 145, no. 1 (January 2019),
  22. Sean Mirski, “Stranglehold: The Context, Conduct and Consequences of an American Naval Blockade of China,” Journal of Strategic Studies 36, no. 3 (2013),
  23. It seems likely, purely for operational reasons, that Japan would be involved in a US-China war over Taiwan from the outset, simply because China cannot cripple US military power in the western Pacific without hitting bases and other targets on Japanese soil. It is less certain whether other key countries, such as Australia, India, the Philippines, and South Korea, to say nothing of European powers such as France and the United Kingdom, would join the fray.
  24. Lonnie Henley, “PLA Operational Concepts and Centers of Gravity in a Taiwan Conflict,” testimony before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, February 18, 2021,
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