The First Battle of the Next War: Wargaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan

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CSIS developed a wargame for a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan and ran it 24 times. In most scenarios, the United States/Taiwan/Japan defeated a conventional amphibious invasion by China and maintained an autonomous Taiwan. However, this defense came at high cost. The United States and its allies lost dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and tens of thousands of servicemembers. Taiwan saw its economy devastated. Further, the high losses damaged the U.S. global position for many years. China also lost heavily, and failure to occupy Taiwan might destabilize Chinese Communist Party rule. Victory is therefore not enough. The United States needs to strengthen deterrence immediately.

This project was funded by a grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation. 

Matthew Cancian

Senior Researcher, United States Naval War College

Eric Heginbotham

Principal Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for International Studies