This is the second in a two-part series on tensions between mainland China and Taiwan. Here, Lawrence Chung looks at what help the US is likely to give the island if it came under attack. Click here for the first part of the series. Taiwan will have to fight for itself in a conflict with mainland China, though its informal but close ally the United States is expected to provide arms and other aid to the self-ruled island, according to military experts. As tensions in the Taiwan Strait have mounted in recent years, discussions have centred on the likely US reaction to an attack on the island from the mainland. The consensus is that the US would not send its forces in. This was underlined at a US Senate’s armed services committee hearing on Thursday, when US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley suggested that the best defence of Taiwan would be by the Taiwanese. “We can certainly help them, as is being done in Ukraine, for example, and a lot of lessons are coming out that China is taking seriously,” he said. But he also stressed the best deterrence was to “make sure the Chinese know it is a very difficult objective to take”. Beijing considers Taiwan its territory that must be brought under control by force if necessary. Relations between the two sides have deteriorated since the election in 2016 of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen , from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party. To try to force the island’s government towards unification talks, Beijing has ramped up pressure on Taipei by sending warplanes almost daily and staging war games nearby. That has been the extent of the military action so far but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the concern over whether the Americans would come to the island’s rescue should Beijing attack Taipei. At a seminar in Taipei on Thursday, analysts said the war in Ukraine had taught Taiwan that even a small power could resist invasion from a much bigger one , particularly with the use of small weapons like the US-made handheld Javelin and Stinger missiles . But the events in Ukraine had also made clear to Taiwan that the US would never send forces to help the island fight the People’s Liberation Army, they noted. Taiwan tests ‘tank killer’ missiles in drills to deter potential PLA attack They all agreed that the possibility of the US sending troops to help Taiwan was almost zero as indicated by the White House’s refusal to send forces to help Ukraine, promising only weapons and other aid. “President [Joe] Biden used the reason that it would trigger a world war to refuse to send troops to Ukraine,” said Max Lo, executive director of the Taiwan International Strategic Study Society, a Taipei-based think tank. Lo said that if direct intervention could lead to a US-Russia war and therefore a world war, the same would be the case with China, given that all three countries had nuclear arms. “Under this logic, the US is unlikely to send forces to help Taiwan should a cross-strait conflict erupt,” he said. He said the US only gave Ukraine simple weapons plus intelligence and satellite communications aid. This not only helped Ukraine deter the Russian aggression, but also conveniently brought Nato allies to its camp and significantly weakened Russian national strength through international sanctions. “For its part, the US is the biggest winner in the Ukraine war. It is therefore quite obvious the US would apply this model in aiding Taiwan in the event of a cross-strait conflict,” he said. PLA could learn from Ukraine war and use paramilitary in Taiwan, article says Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, a professor of international relations and strategic studies at Tamkang University in New Taipei City, told the seminar that many people in Taiwan expected the US to help defend the island, given Washington’s repeated assurances of its security commitment to the island. “But the Ukraine experience told us that in reality, the US would not send troops to help,” he said. Huang said the US had pledged to “help defend Taiwan” but that was open to interpretation – whether it meant sending aid in the general sense or sending troops in the specific term. And the interpretation hinged on several factors, including legitimacy, geopolitics, and methods of the defence. In terms of legitimacy, if the United Nations found it necessary to defend Taiwan or any domestic laws like the US’ Taiwan Relations Act which required defence assistance for the island, the US and other like-minded countries, including Japan, would do so. Similarly, if a PLA attack on the island undermined the political and economic interests – such as energy supply lines – of neighbouring or other countries, the US and its allies, especially Japan, would help defend Taiwan. Huang said now that the US had used the method of sending aid without dispatching troops to help Ukraine, it could do the same to Taiwan. He said there was also a question over how effectively the US and other countries could work militarily with Taiwan, given the language barrier and the absence of regular joint drills. Chang Kuo-cheng, a professor at Taipei Medical University, said if the will of the Taiwanese to resist a PLA attack was weak, it would affect the American desire to aid the island. He also warned of the possibility of Beijing imposing economic sanctions on Taiwan, which would seriously hurt the island. Taiwan is heavily reliant on the mainland’s economy, with at least 40 per cent of the island’s exports going across the strait. Wang Kung-yi, head of the Taiwan International Strategic Study Society, said in the seminar that over the years, there had been high expectations from the public for the US to help defend Taiwan. “The Ukraine war has allowed the public to know that it would be unlikely for the US to send troops to help Taiwan, and Taiwanese must count on their own in the event of a war and this should become their common ground now,” Wang said.