China, U.S, Taiwan

I’m a former USAF Officer and have recently done U.S. defense contracting. In 2015 I attended an open-source brief given by the then US/China Ambassador on why it is extremely unlikely that the US and China will engage in a full State-on-State war. The simple answer was it is too expensive for both countries. Our economies are so intertwined that it doesn’t make economic sense to get into a direct major conflict with each other. There are many other deterrent options that will take place well before a traditional war breaks out. While that brief was 8 1/2 years ago, I would be surprised if Congress chooses to decimate our economy (and theirs) to directly engage China. Thoughts?


The fear is that our hand will be somewhat forced after China pulls a “Putin” on Taiwan. If that doesn’t result in direct engagement, it will sure make things tense. And it already is pretty tense in the South China Sea.

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I doubt China would threaten crashing their economy to regain a province filled with a heavily armed and technically savvy population raised on hatred of the PRC.

China would find an amphibious attack on Taiwan more difficult than Russia attacking Ukraine, even if an American carrier group wasn’t in their way, and the present administration has made it unambiguous that the USA will defend Taiwan.

Another generation and the migration of manufacturing from China to cheaper places like India will be well underway. Something I think the Chinese leadership knows. War would just speed up the process and leave China the financial loser.

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I think General Minihan’s stance is a bit extreme and borders on alarmism. While it makes no sense economically for either country to enter into a direct war, Taiwan is the wild card in the deck. Given China’s aggressive stance in the South China Sea and America’s unconditional commitment to defend Taiwan I don’t think it’s prudent to ignore the possibility of a proxy war.
The last time Congress declared war was in 1941 but it hasn’t stopped Presidents from taking the lead without consulting them. The US military industrial complex is addicted to proxy wars and a self serving Congress never fails to appropriate the funds to feed the addiction.
A proxy war in Taiwan would place a heavy burden on the Navy, so I think that the concern over the lack of tankers is a valid one.


Do the majority of the population on Taiwan hate PRC and wants independence NOW?:

Source: Taiwan's Desire for Unification With China Near Record Low as Tensions Rise

Are they afraid that there will be a war with PRC?:

Source: China and Taiwan: A really simple guide - BBC News

If you are to believe Kuomintang (KMT) Taiwan (ROC) IS China:


What does the US have to do with the China-Taiwan divide?:

Source: What's behind China-Taiwan tensions? - BBC News

That all sounds rational for a population facing an enemy many times their size. Maintaining the status quo means maintaining their de facto independence. Why poke the bear? 1/3 of respondents put off the decision to a later date: that’s normal human nature. And 1/3 wants to move towards independence–but they don’t because it would mean poking the bear.

I’ve noted this too. Normal diplomatic maneuvering. The USA has a treaty with the PRC over Taiwan. It doesn’t serve us to break that treaty–yet. On the other hand the president has been unambiguous about defending Taiwan. No bluster, no threat. Just simple words. I think Xi knows unambiguously that if he makes a move on Taiwan, the present administration will defend it.

As evidence I submit U.S. actions in 1996. China threatened to attack Taiwan. The president then sent two carrier battle groups to defend Taiwan. No ambiguity. I note that we have one carrier battle group near the Straits nowadays, and a NATO carrier group earmarked for the region. No ambiguity as to their purpose.

A few words, a few CBG. An example of speaking softly while wielding a big stick

I will not opine on the likelihood of armed conflict between the US and China.

As a (long) retired USN ship driver, I would like to clarify a bit of terminology.

All oilers can be tankers, but tankers are not oilers. The USN lacks oilers; tankers are not unrep ships.

I am disregarding the use of CONSOL to replenish CLF oilers.


You should be insane to try amphibious operation 90 mills from your shore bases. I just refuse to believe Xi and his crew are madmen. And besides Taiwan issue no other reason for war comes to mind. Plus, even if China attacks this island the United States is not obligated to take a part in the fighting.

Yeah but as previously pointed out, THIS president has made it abundantly clear that, uh … you know… the thing… uh… You know Mao must be stopped…c’mon man!


You’re right about the terminology used in the Navy but to be accurate, the term oiler is outdated. At one time they supplied a fleet propelled by oil-fired boilers for propulsion, however since the 1950’s the underway supply fleet (AO &AOE’S) carry jet fuel, diesel, ammo, provisions and very little oil.

Correct me If I’m wrong but aren’t Diesels and Jet both… Oil?

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Thank you for the correction, and I suppose the term “fuelers” would be more accurate.

Since the “oilers” have those “probe” things and the tankers do not, perhaps we could refer to them as “male” and “female”, instead of by the product being delivered. :grinning:

I encourage you to fill your car’s gas tank with oil but your mileage may suffer.

If we’re going to keep up with the times, can we settle on they/them?

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True, but it would not be difficult to retrofit tankers with the required hose & probe fittings to allow UNREP operations.

Oh, I’m sure it can be done, although there is a lot more to the delivery station than a hose and probe. For reference, when I was XO on a DD963 class destroyer, we would take on 250K gal at 2-3k gal/min per station, tensioned rigs, riding at 80-120ft separation (depending on conditions), at 13kts speed.

But we have gotten far off the original topic now.

Well then, what would you call the civilian tanker alongside the USN vessel I was on in the 70’s, with an unrep hose streamed to us? Our conning officer couldn’t understand why he had so many course changes while alongside - until we found out the tanker was in “iron-mike”, not hand steering. . .

Excerpted from NYT today:

U.S. to Boost Military Role in the Philippines in Push to Counter China

…The United States is increasing its military presence in the Philippines, gaining access to four more sites and strengthening the Southeast Asian nation’s role as a key strategic partner for Washington in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan…

…The agreement… allows Washington to station military equipment and build facilities in nine locations across the Philippines, marking the first time in 30 years that the United States will have such a large military presence in the country…

…Fears have also grown over a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the island democracy that China claims as its territory. Among the five treaty allies that the United States has in Asia, the Philippines and Japan are the most geographically close to Taiwan…

Taiwan has only been a democracy for a few years, since it was taken back from Japan in 1945.

Since the Nationalist run away to Taiwan (1949) and declared it to be the de facto ROC, it has been under marshall law and a dictatorship ruled by KMT until 1987.
This claim to be ruling all of China from there on a temporary basis, (until defeating the Communists) was supported by the US until 1971:

Today Taiwan is not recognized as an independent country by the UN, the US, EU, or any major countries. It’s major trading partner is PRC, with mainland Chinese as the majority visitors to the island.

PS> Many Taiwanese owned businesses are operating on the mainland and many Taiwanese are living and working there:

Due to the Covid restrictions and the heighten tension this number may be dropping:

This has already been done. There are commercial tankers capable of doing UNREP’s