An increasingly wealthy China is now building a military force tailored specifically to challenge any attempt by the United States to intervene in a conflict over Taiwan, Western and Chinese military analysts have said.
The People's Liberation Army, the International Herald Tribune said quoting analysts, is spending heavily on the hardware and technology it needs to keep the United States and its allies at bay.
The Beijing leadership decides it must use force to defeat Taiwan or compel the island's leaders to negotiate.
Without attempting to match the overwhelming US military might, experts told the Tribune, the army has developed a strategy of "area denial," where an array of precision weapons would be deployed in an attempt to keep US forces, particularly aircraft carriers, at a distance for long enough that China could overwhelm Taiwan's defences.
"The plans that China has to develop a submarine force, to develop long-range strike capability in its air force and deploy better ballistic missiles means it will be increasingly more difficult for the US to guarantee the security of Taiwan," Allan Behm, a Canberra-based security analyst and former senior Australian Defence Department strategic planner, told the paper.
If China's strategy were successful, US forces could face defeat without suffering major military losses.
"A weakened initial US response to a Chinese assault on Taiwan, for example, could result in the collapse of Taiwan's military resistance," the paper said.