Slightly alternative history...
I. From the history books
a) Rough background sketch of the situation around 2012
After a phenomenal economical boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the People's Republic of China became a true global player. With hosting of the 2008 world olympics and ever increasing tourism, the country proved it's ability to be a fascinating and friendly place for western people.
Yet no one knew the true dimension of the plans for the "glorious PRC" that lay behind the smiling and friendly facades of the leading men in power. A strong economy and good ties to the "old" world might have been one decisive aspect of the state council's agenda. The other one surely was settling an outstanding score with an undesired neighbour - as quickly as possible especially since it had declared its full independence after an overwhelmingly successful referendum two years back.
China had set its eyes on Taiwan.
With its new wealth, China went shopping for weapon systems to upgrade their armed forces for an amphibian assault. Russia's scrapyards were soon deprived of decomissioned Krivak IIs, Kiev carriers and amphibious assault craft. A good amount of money changed hands for license production of helicopters, aircraft and ground vehicles as well as completely overworking russian factories. Russian arms manufacturers couldn't decide what to do with their new found wealth while the Kremlin turned dark red in anger. (There have been some reports of some well known CEOs of arms factories going "missing".) The PLA Navy grew into a dragon with sharp, pointy teeth. Secret joint exercises made sure that Navy and Army were able to conduct the assault on the island swiftly and as quickly as possible.
Taiwan didn't blink and grew suspicious of the recent high peak activity, but simply couldn't stock up on modern military equipment as fast as its mighty neighbour. They turned to the United States for help.
b) US situation
The USA, albeit finally having ended the Crisis in Iraq were just recovering from an economical crisis triggered by the commitments around the world in the "War on Terror" and the resulting extreme increase in military funding. Yet, this milirarily unusual confrontation with a covert enemy around the world meant the emergence of a piece of new old military equipment of the scene. The RAH-66 could finally prove itself as a weapon system. Its first missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly quick, covert strikes against terrorist hideouts and CAS for US SpecOps teams were huge successes and the Comanche could finally justify its price.
When Taiwan turned to the US government for assistance in a possible conflict with the PRC, they didn't receive a clear assurance of support. The United States hesitated, since a conflict with China would put more strain on the still highly commited US military. Money also played a factor. The president of the United States chose to support Taiwan with arms in every case, but didn't promise a full-scale support of the taiwanese forces in case of emergency.
Taiwan was pretty much on its own now. Other neighbouring nations generally shared its suspicions against the PRC, but were afraid of getting dragged into a conflict with China by showing support for Taiwan.
Everyone just hoped for some some "harmless" sword-rattling.
c) The downward spiral
The huge PLA exercises stopped in middle of 2012. Business went back to normal and there was a general sense of relief in the region.
Until three car bombs went off in downtown Taipei on a sunny autumn day in 2012. First investigations concluded that radical elements of a taiwanese communist party, backed by the chinese secret service were responsible for the death of serveral hundred taiwanese citizens, so the taiwanese government put the finger on the PRC and accused it of trying to destabilize the whole south east asian region.
Ironically, the final investigation revealed that it was an asian terrorist group instead of the PRC who was responsible for the planning and funding of the attack. When this became public, the PRC in turn accused Taiwan of telling lies to destabilize the long lasting peace in the region.
(Note: More recent investigations showed indirect PRC involvement in the attack after all.)
A few weeks later, at the end of November, the PLA commenced "Operation Great Wall", a joint exercise between Navy, Army and Airforce. The taiwanese government, still shaken up by the terrorist attack and nervous due to the scale of the chinese exercise, suspected an imminent chinese attack and conducted a partial mobilization. Military activity from both sides in the Taiwan straits increased. It was during that time that an exercising Chinese Su-27 accidentially collided with a taiwanese Mirage 2000 in bad weather. Since the Taiwan Straits are disputed waters, both sides blamed the other of having violated their airspace. The captured chinese pilot thus became the focus of both sides. While Taiwan wanted to keep him interned until the investigation about the accident was finished the PRC pressed for a quick release and accused the taiwanese government of "having a provocative attitude". The investigation was still underway, when "Operation Great Wall" ended mid-december and continued on when two bomb attacks shook the PRC. The first one happened in downtown Hong Kong on new year's eve 2013, killing dozens. A PRC investigation proved taiwanese involvement in the attacks and the chinese government immediately issued a warning to the taiwanese government basically saying to refrain from "poking the dragon".
(Note: The anti-chinese attackers were real, but again PRC involvement in the attacks only came to light later)
Meanwhile, having conducted huge a joint Marines/Navy/Indonesian Forces exercise in the Java Sea and almost on their way home after this display of power in the shadow of the large PLA exercise a US fleet got ordered into the Philipine Sea to keep an eye on the situation.
It didn't help much that the taiwanese government assured the PRC leaders that a large investigation to find the taiwanese people responsible for this bloodbath was underway. Two weeks later another bomb went off in the PRC's capital, Beijing. The investigation was unnaturally quick and to no one's surprise laid on taiwanese anti-communists again.
With the intention of "stopping taiwanese agression against the chinese people" and "defending the people from further terrorist attacks", the chinese government issued the general mobilization and prepared for what they had been training for so long.
The invasion detachment of PLA forces, having been kept in unsuspicious readyness ever since "Great Wall" made their final preparations for "Golden Sunrise", the invasion of Taiwan.
d) Feet wet, feet dry
It didn't come as a surprise for the taiwanese forces that the radar was full of chinese aircraft bound for military targets on the morning of January 20th 2013. Although heavily outnumbered, the ROCAF managed to inflict great damage on the swarms of PLAAF aircraft streaming into taiwanese airspace. But time and the constant tangling with the equally modern chinese fighters wore the ROCAF down so quickly that, after three days of constant chinese air attacks it could only be used for point defense of their last intact airfields in southern Taiwan. The PLAAF now had near air superiority over the invasion area and started concentrating their efforts on the coastal defenses. The republican ground forces started suffering haevy losses and when the chinese invasion fleet armada showed up around the northern tip of the island on January 24th, the ground forces decided to retreat and build up a defense line further south. Chinese naval infantry came ashore on the evening of the 24th and only encountered light resistance. The main elements of the republican army had already retreated south. Taipei fell on January 25th without the fight it deserved. The PLA was now determined to conquer the rest of the island and turned south after the taiwanese army. Their offensive was surprisingly slow though, since the ROCA had the "home advantage" and inflicted heavy losses on the forward elements of the pursuing PLA. The ROCAAF, despite having sustained heavy losses in the first three days could barely keep the PLAAF at hand, but managed to somehow sustain a degree of air superiority over southern Taiwan. All in all, the ROC forces managed to build up a defense line which was unstable, but managed to stop the PLA forces for the time being.
e) Burgers, fries and weapons
The PLA general staff was fairly content with the situation. Northern Taiwan was under PRC control and the ROC armed forces were all concentrated in the south. Preparations for delivering the final blow to the ROC armed forces were underway. The naval forces, most notably the PLN's six Kiev class carriers were to encircle the island and mount an invasion attempt. This would have drawn forces away from the north and PLA reinforcements would have had it fairly easy to break through the defense line. But the plans changed when the US fleet suddenly appeared on the scene.
It's not known exactly what motivated an american intervention, the most probable answers might either be the slow reaction of the UN or the dossier handed to the US president that showed that the PRC secret service was entirely responsible for the bomb attack in Beijing or the fact that Taiwan is an important player and partner in the world's electronics market that needs to be protected or something else. No one knows.
As soon as the Tarawa class carriers of the Navy formed a protective "horseshoe" around southern Taiwan, the elements of the american expeditionary force went ashore.
Meanwhile, first heavylift flights from the USAF started arriving to bring supplies and hastily packed up helicopter squadrons to counter the PLA's numerical advantage in armored units.
The war was entirely open again.
Last edited by Heretic; 08/18/09 11:43 AM.