A Chinese invasion of Taiwan in 2026 would result in thousands of casualties among Chinese, United States, Taiwanese and Japanese forces, and it would be unlikely to result in a victory for Beijing, according to a prominent independent Washington think tank, which conducted war game simulations of a possible conflict that is preoccupying military and political leaders in Asia and Washington.
A war over Taiwan could leave a victorious US military in as crippled a state as the Chinese forces it defeated.
At the end of the conflict, at least two US aircraft carriers would lie at the bottom of the Pacific and China’s modern navy, which is the largest in the world, would be in “shambles.”
Those are among the conclusions the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), made after running what it claims is one of the most extensive war-game simulations ever conducted on a possible conflict over Taiwan, the democratically ruled island of 24 million that the Chinese Communist Party claims as part of its sovereign territory despite never having controlled it.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has refused to rule out the use of military force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.
CNN reviewed an advance copy of the report – titled “The First Battle of the Next War” – on the two dozen war scenarios run by CSIS, which said the project was necessary because previous government and private war simulations have been too narrow or too opaque to give the public and policymakers a true look at how conflict across the Taiwan Strait might play out.
“There’s no unclassified war game out there looking at the US-China conflict,” said Mark Cancian, one of the three project leaders and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Of the games that are unclassified, they’re usually only done once or twice.”
CSIS ran this war game 24 times to answer two fundamental questions: would the invasion succeed and at what cost?
The likely answers to those two questions are no and enormous, the CSIS report said.