TAIWAN should be armed with missiles able destroy Shanghai to deter China from invading, a former US general has said.
David Deptula also believes the United States should make it clear it's prepared to hit mainland China with stealth bombers to make it think twice about trying to seize the island.
The retired US Air Force General was speaking at the unveiling of a wargame that showed what would happen if the US and China went to war over Taiwan.
It was carried out by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and in one scenario, the US would lost least US two aircraft carriers and hundreds of warplanes.
China regards the self-governing island as part of its territory and has vowed to reunite it with the mainland by force if necessary.
But Deptula, a former fighter pilot, said the US needs to "get creative in deterring China from invading Taiwan" adding "I’ll offer an example".
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“Assisting Taiwan in acquiring an abundance of surface to surface missiles with the range to reach Shanghai and threaten its destruction," he said.
“The risk of losing their cultural and financial capital would weigh heavily on Xi Jinping and crew.
“As everyone understands, deterrence involves inducing sufficient uncertainty regarding success and or consequences in the PRC’s mind so that they elect not to invade."
He also said it was "extraordinarily unwise from a deterrent perspective" to declare "that US attacks against China’s mainland would be off the table".
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“That option should remain in play," he said.
“Stealth bombers provide and enormous advantage in this arena.
“They can be launched from well beyond the area of operations, they carry large payloads and are the only reusable assets capable of significantly penetrating mainland China.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has refused to rule out force and after becoming leader for life, some are predicting Beijing is "all but guaranteed" to attack Taiwan.
The short but brutally intense conflict would see around a fifth of US carriers and combat planes destroyed, as well as least 20 other warships, according to the chilling scenario.
The CSIS wargame envisages a number scenarios for a Chinese attempt to take the island in 2026 and the damage inflicted on US forces coming to its aid.
In their basic scenario, the US Navy’s losses “included two US aircraft carriers as well as between 7 and 20 other major surface warships”.
The losses of combat aircraft range from a low of 90 to a high of 774.
Currently the US has 11 aircraft carriers and is estimated to have around 3800 combat aircraft.
The attacks would include strikes by China's DF-17 hypersonic missile dubbed the "carrier killer" for the it's ability to be guided onto powerful US ships at terrifying speed.
The losses translates into at least 3200 US dead at a rate 140 a day, which dwarfs those suffered during America’s recent conflicts and approaches the 300 killed per day in World War 2.
By comparison, the US sustained about three killed per day in Afghanistan and Iraq, while at at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, it lost 30 killed per day.
The wargame sees the Chinese hitting US bases at Kadena in Japan and on the island of Guam with a barrage of missiles and strikes by planes.
Why is Taiwan a flashpoint between the US and China?
The dispute over Taiwan stems back to the Chinese civil war, which ended in 1949 with the victory of the Communist Party Mao Zedong.
Taiwan – with a population of just 22 million – was recognised by the as the government of China until 1971 when the mainland took its seat at the United Nations.
China’s deposed leader Chiang Kaishek, who was backed by US, fled with his defeat forces the island of Taiwan, about 100 miles off the coast of the mainland.
Taiwan has since developed an identity of its own and become a thriving democratic country with close ties to the West, in particular the US.
The party led by its current president Tsai Ingwen has independence as its ultimate goal.
But China continues to regard the island has being part of its territory and vowed to reunify it by force if necessary.
Even holding a vote on independence is widely seen as the trigger for war.
To that end China has been pouring billions into modernising its military, including now building a fleet of aircraft carriers to match the US Navy.
That has put the country on a collision course with the United States, its main arms supplier.
President Joe Biden has recently said America will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
In recent years tensions have been rising as US air and naval forces patrol the sea around Taiwan, to China's intense annoyance.
Chinese warplanes regularly buzz the island while it has stepped up rehearsals for invasion.
Such an attack has been compared to that carried out by the Japanese on us forces at Pearl Harbor.
The wargame paints a grim picture off what reinforcements arriving at Kadena would encounter.
There would be “entire squadrons" of wrecked US aircraft "bulldozed to the side of the runway”.
In addition to the material damage there is the shocking sight of “hundreds of wounded in the base hospital, and temporary cemeteries to handle the many dead”.
“Missile attacks and air combat will have wiped out squadrons that arrived only a few days earlier.
“Newly arriving personnel will be required to immediately conduct operations against the powerful Chinese forces that have caused so many casualties.”
According to the CSIS the devastation would come as a blow to the US.
“In addition to shocking the US public, the scale of casualties and equipment loss would stagger a US military that has dominated battlefields for a generation,” says the CSIS.
“These losses would be particularly difficult for the Air Force and Navy, which have essentially operated in sanctuary since the end of World War II.
“Such losses would damage the US global position for many years.”
Ultimately, China can only take Taiwan if the US doesn’t come to its aid “suffers heavily” if it fights America, the wargame predicts.
“Its navy is in shambles, the core of its amphibious forces is broken, and tens of thousands of soldiers are prisoners of war."
While the US would win and Taiwan survive as a self-governing island, the losses on all sides would be staggering, says the CSIS.
“The United States might win a pyrrhic victory, suffering more in the long run than the ‘defeated’ Chinese. Victory is not everything.”
While Beijing may be preparing for a lightning war to storm across the Taiwan Strait and capture the island, experts have said the war could be anything but quick.
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With tough beaches, rocky terrain, well-drilled defenders, and unforgiving seas, China could face the same brutal grinding warfare that Russia is facing in Ukraine.
Taking Taiwan could even require Beijing to muster a force of two million troops, it's been claimed.
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