And The Lion
Shall Lie Down With The Lamb:
The Taiwan Straits War Averted
By Chris Oakley
Summary: In the first two parts of this series we explored some of the ways history might have been changed if certain key events before and during the Taiwan Straits War had never happened or had happened differently than they did in our own history. In this final chapter, we’ll look back at the actual timeline of events in the Taiwan Straits War and the crisis which preceded it.
Communist Party of China(CPC) general secretary Zhun Libao succeeds in fending off a takeover bid one by his political rivals, Jiang Mexu. At the time conventional wisdom both in and outside China holds that Mexu’s political career is to all intents and purposes over because of his failure to unseat Libao; however, in the long run this will prove to be merely a momentary tactical setback for Mexu.
Taiwanese air defense units open fire on a Chinese aircraft at the outer limits of Taiwan’s airspace. There are no casualties, but China is outraged by the Taiwanese government’s actions and issues a stern protest before the UN General Assembly.
A Fox News report quotes an anonymous high-ranking source in Japan’s National Security Intelligence Agency(NSIA) as saying that his colleagues increasingly consider it "an inevitability" the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Taiwan will go to war with one another before the end of the decade.
Edward Siegel is sworn in for his second term as President of the United States. That same month, in a show of determination to protect its sovereignty, Taiwan holds live-fire naval exercises off its coastline.
At a Heidelberg University historical seminar marking the centennial anniversary of the Reichstag fire, a keynote speaker compares the machinations of Jiang Mexu’s first attempt to seize control of the CPC to Adolf Hitler’s bungled 1923 Munich putsch; the speaker also suggests it is likely that Mexu will make a second coup attempt in the near future.
Just over a year to the day after his first attempt to overthrow Zhun Libao failed, Jiang Mexu finally succeeds in ousting him as CPC general secretary. Mexu’s rise to power as head of the People’s Republic of China sparks worldwide concern given his hard-line views on many matters, particularly U.S.-China relations and the status of Taiwan.
Two junior attachés with the U.S. embassy in Beijing are expelled from China in retaliation for the deportation of a Chinese diplomat from the United States.
The Chinese government announces a boycott of the 2034 Winter Olympic Games in Minneapolis.
On a visit to Caracas to attend the state funeral of the former Venezuelan president, Jiang Mexu gives a speech criticizing what he terms the "belligerent and imperial" tendencies of the United States.
China Central Television broadcasts a commentary denouncing the U.S. Navy’s annual Ocean Sentinel training exercise in the Taiwan Straits as "unnecessarily provocative". The stridently anti-U.S. tone of the commentary alarms the Siegel Administration, which is concerned that it may well signal an impending break in diplomatic relations between the United States and China; in fact, though, it will be a full year before the break actually happens.
While in Chicago to attend the grand opening of the Barack Obama Presidential Library, President Siegel holds a press conference to reiterate his commitment to maintaining cordial relations between the United States and China despite lingering tensions between the two countries over Taiwan.
A Chinese defector meets with officers at the CIA’s Tokyo station to debrief them on Beijing’s latest plans for gaining control of Taiwan. To the alarm of Siegel Administration officials those plans include a possible invasion of the island and attacks on some of its key cities with chemical or biological weapons.
The Siegel cabinet loses a critical member when Vice-President David Burns dies unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 46.
China breaks off diplomatic relations with the United States.
Russian Federation premier Anatoly Biletnikov, a key figure in international diplomatic efforts to arrange a diplomatic solution to the standoff between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan, is assassinated in St. Petersburg.
The Korean Union foreign ministry issues a statement reaffirming its policy of neutrality regarding all U.S.-Chinese disputes and offering to continue its mediation efforts in the Taiwan Straits crisis. China rejects the offer.
The People’s Liberation Army activates a number of its reserve divisions; ostensibly this decision comes in response to threats of an uprising by Uighur separatists, but U.S. intelligence and defense officials suspect the activations are part of China’s plans for the occupation of Taiwan.
Visiting the Freedom Tower in New York City to commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Siegel warns the Jiang Mexu regime that any attempts by the Chinese government to seize Taiwan by force will be met with "immediate and unrelenting" U.S. opposition. This statement is interpreted by many media outlets as a sign that the Siegel Administration is abandoning its previous hopes of a peaceful resolution to its standoff with Beijing over Taiwan, and within hours of Siegel’s speech a panic evacuation of dozens of major cities around the world has begun.
In response to the deployment of a U.S. Navy carrier battle group to the Taiwan Straits, the Chinese government brings its ICBM bases to DefCon 3.
Advance units of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division arrive in Taipei to back up Taiwanese defense forces in defending Taiwan’s capital city if the Chinese should invade.
A U.S. unmanned reconnaissance drone passing near Hainan Island is destroyed by Chinese air defense units while photographing PLA troop and equipment concentrations there; within hours of this incident, President Siegel orders all U.S. forces in the Pacific region to raise their alert status to DefCon 2.
At one of the most contentious National Security Council meetings of his administration, President Siegel rejects a recommendation by a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to launch a pre-emptive attack against mainland China. Siegel gives as his main reason his belief that such an act would ruin any remaining hope for restoring normal diplomatic ties between Washington and Beijing; he tells his senior defense advisors that despite appearances(and media reports) to the contrary, he has not yet fully given up hope of achieving a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan Straits crisis.
U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Stearns directs the Navy’s Pacific Fleet to scatter its missile submarine inventory in order to ensure that enough subs will survive to issue a punishing retaliatory blow against China should the Chinese initiate missile strikes on the United States.
Jiang Mexu gives the final go-ahead for the People’s Liberation Army to invade Taiwan.
PLA amphibious troops, supported by four airborne divisions, invade Taiwan just after 4:30 AM local time; expecting to make s swift and easy conquest of the island, the invaders instead find themselves encountering heavy resistance from Taiwanese ground troops as well as U.S. Army and Marine Corps units stationed in Taiwan. In a televised address from the White House shortly after the invasion is launched, President Siegel announces that a state of war now exists between the United States and China and threatens to use nuclear weapons against military and command/control targets on the Chinese mainland if the PLA invasion force is not withdrawn within 48 hours.
Angered by Siegel’s ultimatum, Jiang Mexu orders ICBM strikes against every major strategic target in the United States, starting with Los Angeles and Seattle. One of the Chinese silos, 5X, is the site of a mutiny when several of its personnel refuse to comply with the launch order; the mutiny is eventually put down by PLA security forces with heavy casualties.
The Taiwan Straits War has begun.
China and the United States exchange devastating volleys of ICBMs against each other; there are also salvos of missile fire between China and Russia, which became involved in the Taiwan Straits War after Mexu ordered attacks on Russian territory when his intelligence officials detected signs of an increase in Russian army troop levels along the Sino-Russian border.
Many of the world’s major cities are wiped out in the nuclear missile fusillade; Jiang Mexu and his entire cabinet are killed when a U.S. ICBM strike vaporizes the Chinese dictators emergency bunker. Over a dozen U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York City, are vaporized within minutes of the first Chinese launch order.
Blaming herself for the collapse of diplomatic efforts to avert the Taiwan Straits War and psychologically devastated by her inability to stop the nuclear holocaust now engulfing half the world, US Secretary of State Rachel Cortland abruptly resigns her post; just hours after the resignation, she commits suicide in her Georgetown home.
Washington, D.C. is devastated by nuclear attack as China and the United States engage in secondary missile strikes against each other. In Taiwan, the remnants of the PLA invasion force begin a seriously disorganized evacuation from their original beachhead, hounded by Taiwanese and U.S. forces at every turn. From an emergency command post somewhere in the Midwest, President Siegel tries to make contact with the provisional Chinese government in hopes of negotiating a cease-fire.
China agrees to end hostilities with the United States and stands down its remaining nuclear forces, bringing the Taiwan Straits War to a close. Unfortunately, for much of the world the cease-fire comes too late; the massive use of nuclear weapons by the combatants has left half of Asia and one-third of the United States permanently uninhabitable; scores of cities, many of which had no connection to the conflict except that they belonged to a country which was a U.S. or Chinese ally, have been annihilated by nuclear warheads. The war has even touched parts of Europe, with the Russian capital Moscow being destroyed by Chinese ICBMs and the U.S. military outpost in Wiesbaden, Germany eradicated by a Chinese sub-launched missile fired from a launch position somewhere in the Arctic.
Of the Earth’s pre-war population of eight billion people, barely five billion have managed to survive the hostilities, and at least a third of that number will succumb to radiation poisoning, disease, or starvation within less than a year. Many others will be casualties of the civil unrest that will engulf a number of countries in the war’s aftermath; some countries, in fact, have ceased to exist altogether.
Aaron Siegel resigns as President of the United States and vanishes, never to be seen or heard from again.