Worth reading the entire essay but the cut and paste below gives the general flavour. Taiwan with only 24 million people would not necessarily be the pushover China thinks.
“….It is hard to believe that the Japanese High Command is not saying to the Chinese High Command, secretly or otherwise, that if China attacks Taiwan, Japan will have to respond whatever the Americans or anybody else chooses to do.
Apart from the First Island Chain strategic factors bonding Japan to Taiwan, there is another factor, namely that Japan colonised Taiwan for fifty years between 1895 and 1945, thoroughly Japanising the island, just as America’s fifty years of colonisation Americanised the Philippines.
By 1905, Taiwan was financially self-sufficient, had been weaned off subsidies from Tokyo and was generally considered the most developed region of East Asia after Japan. By 1925 food production had increased enormously, Taiwan becoming a major food basket for Japan’s industrial economy. By 1945 the average lifespan of the Taiwanese had reached sixty years and most infectious diseases had been almost eradicated. Militarily, it is recorded that 126,750 Taiwanese voluntarily joined the Japanese military forces during the Second World War and that a further 80,500 were conscripted. The Imperial Japanese Navy and Air Force both operated heavily out of Taiwan.
Today, Taiwan is a robust, prosperous advanced industrialised nation of 24 million people. Its GNP per capita is many times that of China. Anyone familiar with North-East Asia knows that Taiwan is unique, that the capital Taipei, for example, is very different from Hong Kong or any of the cities along China’s coastline. There is a totally different atmosphere, a different temperament and different lifestyles. The people give off an aura of confidence in being both free and disciplined—and being survivors. They know they are a success.
At least until recently, Taiwan had, according to globalfirepower.com, approximately 1,882,000 military personnel including 165,000 active personnel, 2.5 million reservists including 1,655,000 active reservists, 744 aircraft, 117 naval vessels, including submarines, destroyers, frigates and anti-ship missile boats, and 1180 combat tanks. Taiwan ranks twenty-sixth in terms of overall military strength out of 139 countries.
To give some idea of its modernisation, it has added in the last two years four Hai Lung (Collins class) submarines to its previous two. It has just signed an agreement with the US for sixty-six more F-16 aircraft to add to its current total of 142 and also plans to purchase the F-35 stealth fighter. The army has also grown. It is adding 108 Abrams to its 1200 other tanks and modern weapons to support them and is adding 250 new US Stinger missiles to its older stock of 2223 Stinger surface-to-air missiles. It is purchasing new US artillery, Apache helicopters and other weaponry. Overall, the military budget in 2020 increased 10 per cent following a 5 per cent increase in 2019, bringing it to 2 per cent of GNP.
A 2018 study, based on extended research and field work, concluded that there was a real possibility that Taiwan could fight off a Chinese attack, even without the direct involvement of the US military. This study was “grounded in statistics, training manuals and planning documents from the People’s Liberation Army itself, and informed by simulations and studies conducted by both the US Defense Department and the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense”, and it concluded that “a cross-strait war looks far less like an inevitable victory for China that it does a staggeringly risky gamble”.
This invasion would be the largest amphibious operation in human history. The studies show that tens of thousands of vessels would have to be assembled—mostly commandeered from the Chinese merchant marine—to carry more than a million troops across the strait. They would be backed or preceded by waves of missiles and rockets launched from the mainland, the Chinese Air Force and the Navy.
Taiwan has been preparing for this day for decades. It has or will have fortified its coasts with thousands of underground tunnels, anti-ship missiles, sea and land mines and other weapons, and laid strong inland defences of many creative kinds including the deployment of highly trained guerrilla warfare units. In short, the 2018 study concludes that Taiwan on its own could possibly hold out China. It does not go on to say so directly, but it implies that with Japanese and US support on the sea, in the air and on the ground, China could not take Taiwan…”