For what reasons, the invasion of Taiwan would be more complicated than

Can the growing tension around Taiwan be compared, keeping the proper proportions, to the conflict that broke out in Ukraine? Not exactly: physical geography, armaments policies, and the expected level of aggression make a pretty clear difference between the two situations.

In the political-geographical context, first of all, Taiwan, once known by its Spanish name of Formosa, is an island that covers an area of ​​36,000 square km and is home to a population as large as that of the whole of Northern Italy ( 23 million). And it is important to mention that it has an average altitude of 1,150 meters above sea level, according to an analysis by David Rossi for

In reality, there are only two flat areas: the largest being on the western side, facing the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which starts from the capital Taipei to almost the southern tip of the island, for a length of about 450 kilometers, a average depth less than 30, and the other, which is on the northeast side, is located in the “hsien” (county, province) of Yilan, having 30 km of sea view.

In the natural context, it is clear that the former Spanish Formosa is a true natural fortress. All the more so since on the entire western side the depth of the sea waters fluctuates between 50 and 100 meters, with an average of 70. The water is so shallow that the duck cannot float, or rather: the sea is too shallow for submarines Chinese and could never be used for a coastal maxi-landing.

However, these shallow waters provide the perfect conditions for the Taiwanese to place thousands of mines for defensive purposes: certainly, the operation cannot be carried out in peacetime so as not to damage business, but in the event of a threat, it is easy to made for a country that at the beginning of 2022, just before the war in Ukraine, increased its military budget by another 8.6 billion dollars. To be understood, in Italy many people were scandalized by Germany’s announcement to suddenly invest 2 billion euros in weapons.

Taipei did not rely solely on the benefits offered by physical geography

In the context of defense, we must also add that Taipei did not rely only on the benefits offered by physical geography, but also built fortifications on the coasts, especially in the southwest area, and placed naval and air bases along almost all the most sensitive commercial ports and airports, should the PRC attempt an invasion.

Certainly, by comparison, Ukraine is almost seventeen times larger, but it is the heart of the European steppe, that is, a low and flat area. In addition, it has almost 2,000 km of land border with Russia and another 1,000 km with Belarus, almost all in lowland or low-lying regions with no natural defenses.

In addition, Taiwan has hundreds of state-of-the-art aircraft, anti-aircraft and anti-ship systems, including the famous Harpoon missiles, well-known in the Black Sea, which can be used from aboard, but can also be converted into a coastal battery, whose range of action allows coverage of the entire area of ​​the strait. As if that were not enough, as noted military counter-terrorism expert Renato Scarfi recently recalled, “70 years have been prepared for the eventuality of a Chinese landing in Formosa.”

It should also be added that “Taiwan would have acquired the ability to hit mainland China with missiles whose range would exceed 1,500 km and that it would be equipped with long-range missiles that, in the event of a conflict, would have the ability to strike targets in the heart of Chinese territory.”

In the comparative context, we are far from the tragicomic situation of the Ukrainian armed forces in 2014, at the time of the first Russian aggression on Crimea and Donbas, but also from the naive insistence of Kiev to deny the risk of an invasion – and the need to prepare for this type of situation – until February 23. The question for Taipei is not if and where, but only when.

In such a scenario, since the Cold War never ended, Washington and Beijing have the same reasoning, of course, in reverse: the PRC should act now, given that Taiwan is not yet 100% fortified and Americans still not fully oriented to the Asia-Pacific region? The Americans should secure the former Formosa while building a new democratic and anti-Chinese security system, given that the PRC has yet to build a capable air and naval force, not so much to repel the US and its allies , but at least enough to be sure to crush Taiwan?

The movement of Nancy Pelosi, a long-running policy and always opposed – from the left – to the Chinese Communists, confirmed, as seen from the images of the exercises, that the United States – alone or with its systems of alliances – is for the PRC an adversary that makes part of another category. As Steven Goldstein, a professor at Harvard University, said: “When the Chinese get mad at the US over Taiwan, they are punishing Taiwan.”

And then the Americans, talking about defending Taiwan’s democracy, are preparing to justify to Congress and during the midterm election campaign that the need to invest in Taipei’s security is as great, and perhaps even greater, than in that of Kiev.