I'm writing backstory for a project.


The year is 2022. China has just attempted to seize Taiwan and solidify their control of the South China Sea. However, their plan has backfired; Taiwan mounted stiffer than expected resistance, buying enough time for JSDF (Acting under "Regional Stability" laws)/US forces to arrive and repel the attack. The following days, the US Pacific Fleet laid waste to their Chinese counterparts, and the JSDF assisted in blockading mainland China. The Russian Federation has opted to stay neutral, but has reinforced its borders as part of a containment effort; mostly just a political show of force so they can't be blamed for not taking a stance.

The problem is this: You need to force regime change in the most populous country on the planet. China can field millions of reservists with little effort. They have a massive home-field advantage, and even though their citizens have been under decades of oppression, their propaganda machine ensures that they will at best treat you with suspicion; Nobody is going to welcome your liberators.

Political Situation

  • Over the past few years numerous Chinese human rights violations have been exposed. International support is on your side, but given the scale of the possible conflict other nations are reluctant to lend support.
  • Internally, there's not a huge amount of opposition to the war, and recruiting has gone up quite a bit now that the media has been spinning this as a good vs evil war. However, starting a Draft is still political suicide. People view this as America doing the right thing, but not protecting its own interests. You can at best double the size of our current forces

Technological Situation

  • Much the same as it is today. There's a few railgun-equipped Zumwalts at your disposal, self guided artillery shells are a bit more common, and special forces have improved upon early Stealth Helicopters, but beyond that things are mostly the same; you still give your grunts M16s, they still use Type 98s.
  • As far as infantry is concerned, man-portable anti-tank weapons have become more prolific and effective for both sides. Almost every other grunt carries something that can damage heavy armor.

The Question

  • What are the best options for deposing the Peoples Republic of china?
  • How do you minimize Blufor casualties?
  • How can you achieve victory with a minimum of Chinese bloodshed?

Bonus Question

  • What would the involvement of NATO member-states look like? Would the UK and France lend their support or is it just going to be the US and regionals?
  • Would oft-overlooked nearby nations get involved? I can't recall ever seeing the Indian army in fiction, and this is in their backyard.

closed as too broad by Jorge Aldo, Hohmannfan, clem steredenn, Mołot, John Dallman Sep 15 '16 at 9:42

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What do you plan to do about the chinese nukes? I think the answer to that could inform the rest of the answers. $\endgroup$ – lijat Aug 27 '16 at 19:02
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Never fight a land war in Asia! $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Ford Aug 27 '16 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ Damn - beat me to it! $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 28 '16 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ +1 Why the down votes? This seems like a reasonable question. $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Sep 15 '16 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ there is no answer for this... $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Sep 15 '16 at 1:10

There is a RAND study on this subject. War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable They come to the conclusion that an air/sea war is difficult but winnable right now for the US. Waiting a couple of years will make it more expensive for the US. They didn't consider a land war.

  • RAND pointed out that the "world community" would be seriously disturbed by the economic implications of the war. Does your back story reduce the Chinese trade before the conflict?
  • Is the US goal the destabilization of the current Chinese government or the replacement of the current government with a specific opposition group? If they want to install a puppet regime, they need to come up with about 20 million deployable ground forces. There is nowhere near that number in any realistic "coalition of the willing" ...
  • A mere overthrow of the current government by domestic opposition might be triggered if there are blows to national prestige and individual wealth. Without the Communist ideology, the justification for the current not very democatic government is pride and prosperity.
  • NATO members might free the US from other global missions, notably in the Middle East and in the deterrence of Russia.
  • Have you considered what happens with Korea? North and South?
  • $\begingroup$ Good point about the economic consequences. Even reducing Chinese trade prior to the war will still create massive economic dislocation. Probably, a global depression. Nationalism is on the rise in China. Start a war with China & they'll rally behind their current government. Hasn't the US learned its attempts to impose regime change elsewhere have failed miserably. The Koreas will be at war too. All good points. Got my upvote. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 28 '16 at 4:52
  • $\begingroup$ I can win a land war with China by breaking Geneva conventions at will. Unfortunately this results in reducing it to a barren wasteland. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Jan 9 '18 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua, only for unsuitable definitions of winning. The UK used to have the "Moscow Criterion." The Soviet Union could destroy the entire UK, the UK could hope to destroy Moscow. They figured that the Soviet Union would not see that as a win. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jan 9 '18 at 6:06

Fighting a land war in Asia is a mugs game, since you are both outnumbered and at the end of a long supply line.

What you would need to disrupt or destroy the Chinese government's ability to control the situation, give orders, move troops and supplies and get accurate information on the external situation. Without going into great depth, this would involve an attack directed against the signals and telecommunications nodes.

Now there are multiple ways to do this, and I would suspect that all the different tools available will be used, including cyber attack, physical destruction of the nodes, attacks against the power supply to disable the reconnection of the system and even attacks against infrastructure like airfields, bridges, roads and rail nodes to prevent the physical passage of messages by couriers. ASAT attacks against Chinese communication satellites and the disruption of ground stations to prevent downloading of imagery from commercial satellites will also be used. This may have to involve some SoF action on the mainland, but not Marine landings of force on force engagements by large formations.

Now there will still be some units which are intact and capable of action, so the other part of the equation will be spoofing remaining units with false information, orders and imagery. What communications infrastructure which is left (or deliberately untargeted) will be used to send PSYOPS messaging to various groups in China to provoke rebellion. This can be split into multiple target audiences: Poor rural people vs rich coastal people, ethnic Han Chinese vs Manchurians, Zhuang, Uyghur, Hui, Tibetans etc. If the remaining Chinese government forces are engaged in trying to put down rebellion, then they will have little effect on the main battle.

So the primary issue for the alliance is to disrupt the ability of the Chinese to control the battle, but not to physically engage in direct force on force land battles.

  • $\begingroup$ "need to di si destroy"? $\endgroup$ – a CVn Aug 27 '16 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ In this scenario the PRC Forces have mobilized first. Expect them to be ready launch cyber & PSYOPS attacks against the USA too. The Chinese are good at cyber warfare. Military victory in China will be a curse. The Chinese are extremely averse to foreign occupation & very good at guerilla warfare. Better to stop the Taiwan invasion & hold the line there in hope everything doesn't go mushrrom shaped. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 28 '16 at 5:06

Priorities in descending order assuming you are mounting an invasion

  1. Nukes

China is a major nuclear power with sufficient missiles to have reliable second strike capability (aka even if we nuked first then would still have 50+ nukes to shoot back)

The Chinese government seems like they would be willing to fire their nukes to hold power, They have killed their own people to hold power, so why not someone else's.

So you need to disable their nukes (which would take so long they would fire them before you destroyed them all) or remove the government from power peacefully or find some way to convince them not to use nukes.

  1. Allies and Manpower

China has fought wars against or invaded most of its neighbors in the last few decades maybe some would join and give you a staging ground that does not require a landing

Russia hasn't been invaded by china but maybe they would attack as well, and in general you need all the help you can get.

  1. Strategic depth

China Has a lot of land to retreat into, during the Sino-Japanese war (WWII) Mao's forces retreated deep into the country and fought a guerrilla war to over extend and wear out their foes, while denying them a decisive battle. They could continue to draft reinforcements where Japan and you have a very limited pool of troops.

You need to force a decisive battle early while your army is still strong and before a war of attrition begins.

One way would be a (truly massive) pincers attack in from India/Vietnam and Korea/Russia that cut China in half north-south and traps the army and most of the population against the coast, where you can force a decisive battle.

After a decisive defeat of the major army you have some chance of starting regime change.

  1. Air Combat

Even with significant allies you are going to have fewer troops, China is perfectly capable of having a draft, but you can still out spend them, the US spends as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. So you have an advantage in types of combat that require a lot of money but few soldiers (mostly air and sea combat, but you have already won the sea war). You need to focus on using airpower to your advantage, especially with drones which don't risk your scarce pilots.


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