18 April 2022

Eight New Points on the Porcupine: More Ukrainian Lessons for Taiwan

To make Taiwan an indigestible choking hazard, here’s exactly where to invest now.

Andrew S. Erickson and Gabriel B. Collins, “Eight New Points on the Porcupine: More Ukrainian Lessons for Taiwan,” War on the Rocks, 18 April 2022.

Watching Russia falter in Ukraine, Chinese President Xi Jinping may conclude that if he decides to invade Taiwan, he cannot hope to achieve victory with little or limited fighting. The risk is that this will lead him to prepare a much bigger assault, deploying far heavier and more concentrated firepower to batter the island into submission.

In response to this possibility, a number of recent assessments have called for Taiwan to pursue an “asymmetric” dragon-choking “porcupine strategy” prioritizing “a large number of small things” for its defense. In short, turn the anti-access/area denial issue on its head and present People’s Liberation Army forces with multiple, numerous, hard-to-counter defenses that specifically target key Chinese military weaknesses. Drawing on Ukraine’s experience, there are eight concrete areas where the United States and Taiwan should now invest to make the island tougher to invade, even harder to subdue, and harder still to occupy and govern: ballistic missile defense, air defense, sea-denial fires, shore-denial fires, mine warfare, information warfare, civil defense, and the resilience of critical infrastructure.

The goal of these measures is to present a robust anti-access/area-denial threat to Beijing’s aspirations in Taiwan, clouding its prospects for military and political success and, ideally, keeping the threat of Chinese invasion hypothetical through this critical decade and beyond. … … …