WI: pro-western united Korea, PRC-controlled Taiwan?

What if, with a PoD sometime around 1950, the geopolitical situation in East Asia had resulted in a sort of swap between North Korea and Taiwan, with the former being fully conquered by the US-backed southern regime while the latter is taken over by the PRC?
 

raharris1973

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What if, with a PoD sometime around 1950, the geopolitical situation in East Asia had resulted in a sort of swap between North Korea and Taiwan, with the former being fully conquered by the US-backed southern regime while the latter is taken over by the PRC?

[note- an intentional, diplomatic "trade" isn't going to be made, a circumstantial, de facto "trade" could "just happen" to "fall in to place" however, with the right PoD and alterations]

In January 1950, Mao and the CCP Central Committee fast-track the planned invasion of Hainan by about a month from 5 March 1950 to 5 February 1950, despite continued mopping up operations against small KMT troop contingents in mountainous southwest China.

This earlier invasion is also luckier in terms of cooperating with Communist guerrilla forces on the island to outflank Nationalist defenses, possibly in part because the attack becomes earlier than the KMT ground commander, Xue Yue, and naval commanders expect. It succeeds in overwhelming the island, seizing key terrain and forcing evacuation of KMT remnants in 2 weeks rather than the historical 7 weeks. This successfully grabs Hainan in the ATL before OTL's Hainan campaign even began, and boosts Beijing's confidence and internal demand to finish off Taiwan during 1950, including pressure from Mao to make an attempt even before spring is over.

As a result, Beijing throws together an invasion force to launch an assault on Taiwan on May 15th, while masking Quemoy/Jinmen, rather than assaulting it head-on. Landings in a a couple locations fail, but landings elsewhere succeed, and are not thrown into the sea.

The Taiwan campaign is much longer and harder fought than the Hainan campaign OTL, or ATL. So more than 7 weeks certainly. The issue is in doubt for the first several weeks and the PRC lodgment only ensured by follow-on landings and reinforcements and some misfortunes on the KMT side.

The Truman administration, sticking with prior policy, despite some internecine debate and second-guessing by politicians, does not intervene in Taiwan in May and June 1950. However, during this time, the US still blocks the PRC takeover of China's UN seat, since KMT forces are still fielding major ground formations, conducting air sorties and bombardments in Taiwan and the near coast of the mainland, and Chiang is still doing radio and press communiques from urban centers he controls. Therefore the Soviet boycott of the UN continues.

However, North Korea attacks South Korea on June 25th, and the Truman Administration decides to draw a line there, and intervenes, gaining UN endorsement.

With a ground melee going on in Taiwan, the OTL "neutralization" formula and interposition of the fleet would be insufficient to stop the Taiwan fighting, so Washington DC needs to decide to intervene in a combined arms fashion, or not at all. With South Korea the priority, and closer to Japan anyway, intervention in Taiwan or the straits is skipped entirely. As it was, in the initial weeks in OTL, the 7th fleet interdiction was largely a bluff with few units on station, and plenty of work for 7th fleet units to do in Korean waters.

During the early weeks of Korean War fighting, Chiang's hopes for an American policy reversal and intervention rise. Even members of the administration, like the President and Secretary of State Acheson, who oppose a reversal of the non-intervention policy toward Taiwan policy find it convenient for Chiang to remain hopeful and thus prolong his resistance. The CIA provides covert assistance to Chiang, routed via the Philippines.

Beijing's leaders and planners are operationally focused on Taiwan and finishing the job there in the early weeks of July. In principle, American intervention in Korea is disturbing, but Pyongyang says it is doing great on its own, and that is what the maps show in July.

In August, as the Pusan perimeter consolidates, the situation gets more disturbing for Beijing.

The Communists have finally routed the Nationalists on Taiwan by about 30 August, and Chiang Kaishek reveals his retreat, from Manila, on September 4th.

However, the 10-week Taiwan campaign, and the relative complacency in July have delayed the formation of the Northeast Frontier Force by China by at least a month, and it is less well-staffed and reinforced in Manchuria at the outset.

After September 10th, and the Inchon landings that day, things rapidly get worse in North Korea.

US-UN-ROK forces advance into North Korea in late September and October while the Chinese rapidly redistribute forces northward to protect their northeast, move Nationalist PoWs and civilian PoWs to the mainland or prisons on Taiwan, and draw-down on Taiwan from peak combat strength on the island.

In October, Stalin presses Mao to intervene in Korea. Mao seriously considers it, but demands heavy Soviet support. That is not forthcoming. As in OTL, Lin Biao calls in sick and refuses to command. However, in this ATL, although confident in, and proud of their abilities, other senior commanders follow Lin Biao's lead and drag their feet, claiming lack of time to rest and refit sufficient veteran troops, or make operational or logistical plans in time to save the North Koreans. North Korea is snuffed out in November while this discussion continues without any major Chinese intervention, and Kim Il-Sung crosses the Yalu into exile.
 
The Philippines and Okinawa become far more critical than OTL to US Pacific strategy due to China's ability to project power into the Pacific.

In regards to Vietnam, an ascendant Communist China and a successful Korean War probably mean the US would directly intervene in the South as IOTL.
 

raharris1973

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The Philippines and Okinawa become far more critical than OTL to US Pacific strategy due to China's ability to project power into the Pacific.

The bases there were regarded as pretty critical in any case, but yes, without an ability to host US Forces Taiwan, from 1950 to 1978, Kadena, Subic and Clark Field are all the more important.

China will have a geographic "outlet" to the Pacific. Instead of being motivated to build a navy to defend their mainland coast and invade offshore islands and Taiwan, they'll be motivated to build a navy to credibly defend Taiwan. The enterprise will take a long time, decades, before it's a decent strength compared to western navies and the soon to be reconstituted Japanese Self-Defense Force, especially if there is a Sino-Soviet split.

In regards to Vietnam, an ascendant Communist China and a successful Korean War probably mean the US would directly intervene in the South as IOTL.

Exactly as in OTL? The precise "when?" and "how?" may be affected in interesting ways by the scenario, and this shorter, more successful, Korean War.

This Korean War is July-December, including mopping up, for American forces, so 5-6 months, instead of the 36 months of OTL's Korean War (not necessarily only 1/6 of the casualties though, since it's a pretty intense phase of the war)

Does the US intervene in Vietnam/Indochina early with its own forces in bulk? Perhaps right at the point when the French are determining they can't do it on their own anymore? That would be 1954 or so, all things being equal. And it would be through out all parts of Indochina, not just southern Vietnam at that point in time.

1954 might not exactly be the point of French exhaustion, it might come a year or two earlier, with more generous aid flowing to the Viet Minh from a China that is not fight in Korea.

Or, like in OTL, the politics and optics of directly taking over a mission from a colonial power may not be acceptable, and the US government might reluctantly let the French take a limited loss, partitioning Indochina while hoping to hold most of it with proxy states.

In that case, there may be a lull in the fighting in the mid and late 1950s, and the US may not send in its own troops until the 1960s.

But, the US might escalate more in the early 1960s, perhaps in Laos, or in South Vietnam?

Or perhaps Washington, like OTL, stretches out trying to handle Vietnam and Indochina through proxy states, massive aid, encadre'd combat "advisors", and regime change/renovation in Saigon (the Diem coup or equivalent), for as long as that appears a possible alternative to sending whole American infantry units or losing Saigon outright.

Even if American combat troop intervention is delayed until the mid-1960s, American military and civilian leaders can approach it from a different mindset without having experienced Chinese intervention in Korea. They would be more willing to escalate in the ground and air hard and fast, and cross geographical boundaries, counter-invading from South Vietnam into North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos without having a visceral negative memory of Chinese opposition.

I don't know if that keeps or puts a non-communist or communist government in charge of half, or even all of Vietnam by the 1990s, but many things in this ATL's 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and probably 1980s will probably be different from OTL.

Your thoughts?
 

raharris1973

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I would note that the political benefits for Truman and the Democrats of winning a complete Korean War victory in the 1952 election would be surprisingly limited, and for the 1950 midterm elections, nonexistent.

As it was, the military situation was great in OTL October 1950 with US, UN, ROK forces overrunning North Korea and no awareness among voters making up their minds back home that the Chinese would soon intervene and counterattack in force.

the voting public in nov 1950 gave Truman scant credit for so dramatically turning the military situation around in Korea and the Democrats lost seats. In the ATL I sketched, this is worsened by the sour note added by the final fall of Chiang Kai-shek on Taiwan in Early September, and the administration’s refusal to let him take exile in Korea.

the period between the North Korean defeat in December 1950 and the nov 1952 election can’t help but be a little better for the administration with the enemy defeated, the war over, and no firing of MacArthur brouhaha.

but the administration will receive scant. Public credit for a regional war victory that looks so puny compared to WWII and does not end the wider Cold War. The Republicans will still be mobilized by power hunger, the Democrats hobbled by corruption charges, and the swing. Vote suffering from party fatigue.

Also, the end of war spending makes a recession a possibility.
 

raharris1973

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Monthly Donor
@GauchoBadger - what did you have in mind when you proposed this? What on earth inspired the idea? How did you think the outcome might have happened? Did you have any thought about the possible long-term consequences?
 
[note- an intentional, diplomatic "trade" isn't going to be made, a circumstantial, de facto "trade" could "just happen" to "fall in to place" however, with the right PoD and alterations]

In January 1950, Mao and the CCP Central Committee fast-track the planned invasion of Hainan by about a month from 5 March 1950 to 5 February 1950, despite continued mopping up operations against small KMT troop contingents in mountainous southwest China.

This earlier invasion is also luckier in terms of cooperating with Communist guerrilla forces on the island to outflank Nationalist defenses, possibly in part because the attack becomes earlier than the KMT ground commander, Xue Yue, and naval commanders expect. It succeeds in overwhelming the island, seizing key terrain and forcing evacuation of KMT remnants in 2 weeks rather than the historical 7 weeks. This successfully grabs Hainan in the ATL before OTL's Hainan campaign even began, and boosts Beijing's confidence and internal demand to finish off Taiwan during 1950, including pressure from Mao to make an attempt even before spring is over.

As a result, Beijing throws together an invasion force to launch an assault on Taiwan on May 15th, while masking Quemoy/Jinmen, rather than assaulting it head-on. Landings in a a couple locations fail, but landings elsewhere succeed, and are not thrown into the sea.

The Taiwan campaign is much longer and harder fought than the Hainan campaign OTL, or ATL. So more than 7 weeks certainly. The issue is in doubt for the first several weeks and the PRC lodgment only ensured by follow-on landings and reinforcements and some misfortunes on the KMT side.

The Truman administration, sticking with prior policy, despite some internecine debate and second-guessing by politicians, does not intervene in Taiwan in May and June 1950. However, during this time, the US still blocks the PRC takeover of China's UN seat, since KMT forces are still fielding major ground formations, conducting air sorties and bombardments in Taiwan and the near coast of the mainland, and Chiang is still doing radio and press communiques from urban centers he controls. Therefore the Soviet boycott of the UN continues.

However, North Korea attacks South Korea on June 25th, and the Truman Administration decides to draw a line there, and intervenes, gaining UN endorsement.

With a ground melee going on in Taiwan, the OTL "neutralization" formula and interposition of the fleet would be insufficient to stop the Taiwan fighting, so Washington DC needs to decide to intervene in a combined arms fashion, or not at all. With South Korea the priority, and closer to Japan anyway, intervention in Taiwan or the straits is skipped entirely. As it was, in the initial weeks in OTL, the 7th fleet interdiction was largely a bluff with few units on station, and plenty of work for 7th fleet units to do in Korean waters.

During the early weeks of Korean War fighting, Chiang's hopes for an American policy reversal and intervention rise. Even members of the administration, like the President and Secretary of State Acheson, who oppose a reversal of the non-intervention policy toward Taiwan policy find it convenient for Chiang to remain hopeful and thus prolong his resistance. The CIA provides covert assistance to Chiang, routed via the Philippines.

Beijing's leaders and planners are operationally focused on Taiwan and finishing the job there in the early weeks of July. In principle, American intervention in Korea is disturbing, but Pyongyang says it is doing great on its own, and that is what the maps show in July.

In August, as the Pusan perimeter consolidates, the situation gets more disturbing for Beijing.

The Communists have finally routed the Nationalists on Taiwan by about 30 August, and Chiang Kaishek reveals his retreat, from Manila, on September 4th.

However, the 10-week Taiwan campaign, and the relative complacency in July have delayed the formation of the Northeast Frontier Force by China by at least a month, and it is less well-staffed and reinforced in Manchuria at the outset.

After September 10th, and the Inchon landings that day, things rapidly get worse in North Korea.

US-UN-ROK forces advance into North Korea in late September and October while the Chinese rapidly redistribute forces northward to protect their northeast, move Nationalist PoWs and civilian PoWs to the mainland or prisons on Taiwan, and draw-down on Taiwan from peak combat strength on the island.

In October, Stalin presses Mao to intervene in Korea. Mao seriously considers it, but demands heavy Soviet support. That is not forthcoming. As in OTL, Lin Biao calls in sick and refuses to command. However, in this ATL, although confident in, and proud of their abilities, other senior commanders follow Lin Biao's lead and drag their feet, claiming lack of time to rest and refit sufficient veteran troops, or make operational or logistical plans in time to save the North Koreans. North Korea is snuffed out in November while this discussion continues without any major Chinese intervention, and Kim Il-Sung crosses the Yalu into exile.
I admire the scope and sequence of events outlined, but believe it could also be more simple. Events regarding China and Taiwan go as OTL. After the North Korean crossing of the DMZ, Mao and Chou En-lai issue a blase statement calling for a peaceful resolution for the Korean Conflict without foreign intervention ending with a pledge not to intervene. The leaves US policymakers somewhat flummoxed. It is directly counter to the Soviet position and this discrepancy in the prevailing view of monolithic Communism causes Washington to pause until it can figure the situation out. Consequently, the Seventh Fleet is not ordered to patrol the Formosan Straits. In the winter of 1950, there is no Chinese intervention in Korea. At this point, whether the Soviets intervene or not is immaterial - if they do not, once Korea is reunited, attention to the Far East drifts back into the foreign policy backburner.

Abruptly, in March of 1951, the Chinese invade Taiwan. The US is unprepared to respond, there is no consensus that the defence of Taiwan is an American responsibility. The American people may not be too enthusiastic about another Asian war. The Nationalists cannot prevail. Comments?

Regardless of how we get there, what I am most interested in is your opinion as to how future Sino-American relations develop once this new status quo is in place.
 
@GauchoBadger - what did you have in mind when you proposed this? What on earth inspired the idea? How did you think the outcome might have happened? Did you have any thought about the possible long-term consequences?
Was just a silly idea i had at random, mostly involving a sort of agreement between the PRC and US not to directly point their guns at each others' armies, perhaps out of fear of escalation. I wasn't sure how likely it would be, so i made this thread to ask.
 
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