For China, "hostilities" begin with the "renegade province" of Taiwan. China has long sought reunification of the erstwhile Formosa. Now, the Chinese government recently passed a law authorizing an attack on that island country should the duly elected representatives of the people there decide against communism.Wow. First off, the law does not "authorize an attack". It provides for that possibility (and I'll be the first to say that's not great) but it also requires the government to pursue all means short of war first. The way this is being portrayed in the US media you'd think the NPC had declared war, but that's not what's going on. This is a far less ominous or provocative act that, for example, the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998 which comitted the US to regime change in Iraq.
Moreover, this has nothing to do with "deciding against Communism" or not. This has to do with national unity. If Taiwan tries to adopt the symbols of independence (when they already have the substance), then Beijing comes a knocking. Even in a hypothetical Beijing occupation of Taipei, the Party and this new law are both explicit that "one country, two systems" would remain - essentially giving Taiwan the same status as Hong Kong. As I've written before, things in Hong Kong aren't going swimmingly for Beijing, which makes me think that Taiwan is going to be reunified with China, but only after the mainland becomes a more democratic state. Rob contiues:
This is the most ominous of a series of broader moves that includes the development of a blue-water navy. China's economic development, in the eyes of those in power in Beijing, goes hand in hand with military might, and the generalissimos there plan on using it.Excuse me? Generalissimos? This is just egregiously wrong. The CPC is a dictatorship all right, but in no way whatsoever is it a military one. Everybody knows Mao's phrase "political power grows from the barrel of a gun" but nobody gets told the second part to that sentence: "...the party should always control the gun, and never the gun the party." Meaning, for someone with even a basic knowledge of Chinese history, that the military has always been under political control. Since 1979, this has meant control by the reformers who have placed military expansion somehwere near the bottom of their priorities. Obviously, this has begun to change since the late 1990s, but in no way is the military in command.
More generally, we've really got to question what the desired endgame is here. Can anybody prevent the reunification of China, speaking long term? No. If the mainland makes the necessary reforms, then Taiwan will likely choose reunification anyway. If China becomes militarily preponderant, we can't stop them anyway. So do we want to get dragged in to a war with China over an island they have a legitimate claim to anyway? I don't relish the thought of the world losing a democracy, but I really don't think that's the likely outcome. In the meantime, comparing China to the Nazis is unbelievably foolish, even if it weren't wrong.
The Big Exception, of course, is that I could certainly be wrong. However, if China were really committed to a war for Taiwan, I think we'd see more than just purchases of Su-30s and Sovremenny destroyers. First off, we'd see purchases of a lot more fighters. In any war, China would probably face not only the Taiwanese Air Force (which is extremely daunting on its own) but also the Japanese SDF and whatever capacity the US Navy and Air Force have in-theater. China does not now, nor will it in the near future, have that kind of capability. Secondly, the Chinese would almost certainly commit to upgrading their nuclear armaments. Currently, the Chinese ICBMs are all single-warhead. If China were to upgrade to MIRVs, then I'd say it was time to worry. Luckily, that kind of change is not easily concealed, nor is it something that can be done quickly.
Finally, just to reiterate, all of this ignores what's going on inside China. Beijing can't keep the lid on forever, and I think we're going to see positive changes in the future.