CHINA would need two million soldiers to invade Taiwan and could end up failing just like Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, experts have said.
Communist Party forces are deployed around the island for massive war games which are believed to be rehearsals for an invasion.
Tensions have been stretched to breaking point after a visit to the island by senior US politician Nancy Pelosi, the third in line to the White House.
China has never been shy about admitting it wants to conquer Taiwan – which enjoys strong support from the US.
And while Beijing may be preparing for a lightning war to storm across the Taiwan Strait and captured the island, experts have said the war could be anything but quick.
With tough beaches, rocky terrain, will drilled defenders, and a unforgiving seas – China could face the same brutal grinding warfare which Russia is facing in Ukraine.
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China expert Ian Williams explained it is estimated that Beijing would need some two million men to have a hope at taking Taiwan.
Writing in The Sunday Times, he said: "[Ukraine] has demonstrated how a determined underdog can thwart the ambitions of a much larger and more powerful rival, and it is being studied on both sides of the Taiwan Strait."
Beijing has deployed warships, warplanes and missiles over the last week which have effectively surrounded the island in a blockade.
Williams described this as a "militarised tantrum" – and said such a show of force does not translate to a successful or easy invasion.
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Taiwan has accused China of outright performing attack drills on the island, while Beijing's state controlled media boasts the exercises as rehearsing for the "reunification operation".
It is a chilling echo of the phrasing used by Putin ahead of his invasion in Ukraine, which saw Russia dub their invasion a "special operation".
The key difference however between Taiwan and Ukraine however is of course that the former is an island – meaning any enemy forces have to succeed in an amphibious landing or a massive airdrop.
And the notoriously rough and windy Taiwan Strait which separates the island from mainland is known as "The Black Ditch".
It is believed there are only 14 beaches on island suitable for an amphibious landing on the scale needed by China.
Taiwanese strategists have likened the waters separating them from China to the road into Kyiv, where the Russian army was repulsed
Strategists also believe there are only two realistic windows for such an operations, the end of March into April or late September into October.
"Taiwanese strategists have likened the waters separating them from China to the road into Kyiv, where the Russian army was repulsed," wrote Williams.
Putin had expected his attack on Ukraine to end in a rapid victory – launching a massive operation towards the capital in the early days of the war in February and March.
Russia sent fleets of helicopters and columns of tanks rumbling at Kyiv – only to have these attacks be repulsed or become bogged down.
Staggering losses characterised the early days of the war for Russia.
And bold predictions that Putin would win the war in days provided to be embarrassingly wrong as the heroic Ukrainians stood firm.
Ukraine and Russia are now locked together a slow, grinding war which is heading towards a bleak winter.
Putin is even feared to try and break the stalemate by using nuclear weapons.
China and Taiwan could go the same way, with experts previously describing such a war as Xi Jinping's very own Vietnam.
Yesterday, China sent 20 warplanes and 14 warships to menace the island – crossing the dividing line in the Taiwan Strait.
And in response Taiwan's military mobilised air and land patrols and deployed land-based missile systems.
Meanwhile, the US, Australia and Japan all urged China to immediately cease military operations around Taiwan.
The three powers accused Beijing of threatening "international peace and stability" in the region.
Pelosi's visit last week sparked fury as Xi's regime views any engagement between Washington and Taipei as a US endorsement of Taiwan's independence.
But an increasingly belligerent China claims the island belongs to them – and has vowed to retake Taiwan by 2050.
Beijing's state run media bragged the drills showed how China could attack the island by first unleashing a wave of rocket strikes across the Taiwan Strait.
And it then boasted missile launches showed how the Communist forces could also strike any "foreign" aircraft carriers that may attempt to "intervene from the Philippine Sea".
The "foreign" ships being referred to is clearly a barb at the US – with aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group just days ago operating in the Philippine Sea.
The White House has said the Reagan will "remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation".
Washington has always stopped short of outright supporting independence for the Taiwan's independence or pledging to support them in the event of a Chinese invasion.
Instead it has maintained a policy of so-called "strategic ambiguity" aimed at not provoking Beijing and has said backs the idea of "One China".
But recently Joe Biden broke with convention and responded "yes" when asked if the US would come to Taiwan's aid if the island was attacked by China.
Pelosi is a vocal supporter of Taiwan – and her trip to the island earlier this week made her the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in a quarter of a century, which infuriated China.
During her trip the Speaker of the House of Representatives voiced America’s support for Taiwan and seemed to have called Beijing's bluff after it hinted it might shoot down her plane.
China is feared to increasingly view an invasion of Taiwan as inseparable from a war with the US.
The Communist Party yesterday cut contact with US officials on a number of key topics – and many nations condemned China's military drills around Taiwan.
And it's been warned Beijing could launch a series of Pearl Harbor-style strikes on US forces in the Pacific should it decide to move forward with "reunification by force".
Chinese operations on the dawn of war would be designed to try and knock out US forces so they could not react to stop China gaining a foothold in Taiwan.
The strategic gamble would be an attempt to stall a wider war – just as Japan hoped when they attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, drawing the US into World War 2.
Chinese military doctrine demands that they attempt to "paralyse the enemy in one stroke" – and they warn "by the time the [US] was ready to fight, the war might effectively be over".
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Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan after the Communists won the civil war on the mainland in 1949 – and the island has remained self-governing ever since.
Beijing has always aggressively insisted that Taiwan belongs to them by right – and have pledged to reclaim the island by 2050.
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