Wargaming Taiwan 2027 – the China–USA conflict and Norwegian defence planning

FFI-Report 2024
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Ragnhild E. Siedler Stig Stenslie Tore Nyhamar Stein Malerud
The Taiwan issue is probably the hottest flashpoint between the US and China. Our report begins by describing what the conflict is about and why it is particularly pertinent right now. Then, we discuss to what extent the scenario is plausible and relevant to Norwegian defence planning. To assess plausibility, we discuss whether Beijing could make a political decision to invade. We also discuss some important operational considerations for a possible invasion attempt. Finally, we analyse in what ways an invasion of Taiwan could affect the Norwegian Armed Forces. Our report concludes that the scenario is plausible and relevant. A war between the US and China over Taiwan will affect Norway and the Armed Forces in many ways. Our report, however, focuses on some important implications to the Armed Forces, specifically: • The supply of semiconductors could be disrupted or stopped, which would make computing power a scarce resource for which critical societal functions, including the Armed Forces and defence industry, could need priority. • Norwegian and Norwegian-affiliated shipping is a unique transport resource globally. If these ships contribute with transportation tasks in areas where they will be exposed to risks, they may need military protection. • National crisis management may include strategic evacuation of Norwegian citizens in the Asia-Pacific region, requiring contribution from the Armed Forces. • In a global perspective, Norway’s main contribution to allied security and crisis management during a Taiwan war will be Norway’s presence and operations in the High North. However, we cannot rule out a request for military support to the operation in the Asia-Pacific region. • The war may limit the US’ options to provide military support in the High North, which in turn necessitates an increase in Norwegian contributions to allied security and crisis management here. • Even though the US might ‘win’ a war over Taiwan, we should take account of the outcome that its global power projection capabilities would be weakened, including in the High North. • If China were to succeed in invading Taiwan, China would have breached the first island chain, weakening the American position in the Pacific. In the long term, a rebuilt Chinese military could be used for new tasks that could enhance its military presence globally. In sum, our report concludes that these considerations have sufficiently grave consequences for the Norwegian Armed Forces to merit inclusion in Norwegian long-term military planning.

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