Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Provocative visits by US politicians to the island of Taiwan, especially led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have triggered a new round of escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Western media is mistakenly predicting the possibility of sparking conflict. Against this backdrop, not only the US military but also private think tanks are focusing on research and forecasting of regional military scenarios and war scenarios.

Recently, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US think tank, conducted scenario planning for a possible war in the Taiwan Strait. In the context of such war games, run by officers and militaries that seek to provide sufficient conditions to pursue covert simulations close to reality, public simulations by private think tanks have a clear purpose: to express their established academic views. And to find reasons through military simulations, they always need to limit the situation, manipulate the simulation process, and reach the conclusions they have already reached.

Such simulations often serve the purpose of cognitive warfare and play a strong role in targeted propaganda and shaping public opinion. Some aim to meet direct political needs and help express the interests or needs of the government. Take the simulation of CSIS, likely an “academic” expression of a think tank that collaborates with US officials and China to conduct opinion warfare and psychological warfare.

The simulation assumes that the Chinese mainland decides to attack the island of Taiwan in 2026, one year before the establishment of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and in the simulation, the US and Japan decide to implement military intervention. The purpose of this speculation is to demonstrate the US decision on possible Chinese military operations on the island of Taiwan and the US’s so-called determination to intervene in the Taiwan issue with its key regional partners.

In the simulation, both China and the US-led side invested in a variety of weapons other than nuclear weapons to compete. It shows that US society limits potential intervention in conventional regional warfare, avoids the threat of nuclear weapons, and prevents loss of control over war. The simulation began with a hypothetical scenario that was unfavorable to the US, and then as the conflict continued, the PLA suffered heavy losses in equipment and personnel, and the advantages of the US and Japan began to emerge.

During the simulation, the US military bombed several ports in China, resulting in serious failures in the PLA’s landing operations. Naturally, this setting of extending the scope of US military strikes to the Chinese mainland could result in heavy casualties for the PLA, which means sanctions and blackmail against China.

On the one hand, the organizers of the simulation concluded that “results show that under most – all circumstances – Taiwan can repel an invasion,” trying to warn China against recklessly launching military operations to regroup. Taiwan. On the other hand, the war will inevitably affect America’s global influence. This shows that the US is concerned that a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait could create a lose-lose situation between China and the US. The United States has the need and the means to find political solutions to regional crises through peaceful means.

Currently, the US is launching an unprecedented multi-domain offensive against China and is waging a cognitive war. The US has a huge media, network and information platform and its ability to disseminate news and influence public opinion is strong enough. Of course, non-governmental think tanks can also exert their so-called academic influence, becoming a tool of the US cognitive warfare effort.

But such influence is limited. The first reason is the lack of pure scientific method in the process due to the involvement of laymen, unprofessional simulations and background conditions. Another reason is the subjective tendency to preconceived conclusions, which are seriously inconsistent with objective reality. A third reason is that some think tanks are full of errors in China-related research due to the political guidance of the US government, as well as the long-term pursuit of hot topics, exaggeration and confusion of right and wrong.

The author is a professor at the National Defense University.