Members of the House select committee on China will become senior advisers to a U.S. president in 2027 when they participate in a war game simulating a Chinese invasion of Taiwan on Wednesday.
The goal of the closed-door tabletop exercise, a source close to the committee said, is to find ways to best deter Beijing from invading Taiwan and bolster the self-governing island’s defenses as it faces growing threats from China.
Members will be using an open-source, unclassified war game developed by the Center for a New American Security, a think tank based in Washington. CNAS defense experts Becca Wasser and Andrew Metrick will play China.
Lawmakers will confront a scenario in which China, after years of coercive measures aimed at Taiwan, will decide to try to take the island by force, Wasser and Metrick told Semafor in an interview.
It will run two hours and play out about a week’s worth of conflict. The lawmakers will be able to choose from a range of options to respond to an attack by China — including economic, diplomatic, military, and messaging responses, Metrick said.
An unclassified war game run by the Center for Strategic and International Studies last year found that the U.S. and Taiwan could defend against a Chinese invasion but that all sides would incur enormous costs. The decision to incorporate an economic component into Wednesday’s exercise will allow lawmakers to also assess the impact of U.S. exports controls and sanctions, as well as export bans and travel restrictions on the part of China.
The exercise will be kept mostly private, though ABC will film a short segment that will air later on, the source close to the committee said.
The decision to hold a war game (which the committee’s chairman Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. previewed in an interview with Semafor in February) reflects a growing concern on the part of lawmakers of the risks of conflict with China over Taiwan in the next few years.
But it doesn’t mean they view war as inevitable. Lawmakers and officials in the Biden administration are searching for ways to convince Chinese President Xi Jinping that the cost of moving on Taiwan would be too high in order to deter any use of force. The war game is part of an effort to determine the best ways to do that.
“It’s a sensitive and challenging topic so we’re trying to treat it with the respect it deserves,” Metrick said, adding that the hope is that the exercise “can be a tool for strengthening deterrence in the region.”
Gallagher, who has aggressively advocated for accelerating weapons shipments to Taiwan, intends to make defense of the island a top priority in the coming weeks. He was among a group of bipartisan House lawmakers who met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California earlier this month. China reacted to Tsai’s transit through the U.S. by staging military drills.
“The goal of this exercise is to make sure we never have to do this in real life,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., the committee’s ranking member who also met with Tsai, told Semafor in a statement. “We want our members to see the real-world consequences of an attack on Taiwan so that we can do everything possible now to prevent conflict and deter aggression.”