The objective is to fight a brief, lightning-fast, local limited war which China presumes America will subsequently decline to escalate further. Amusingly, since these doctrinal writings suggest hitting PACOM assets even before striking Taiwan itself to achieve this political effect, RAND's analyst notes:
" It does not need to be pointed out to this panel that the last time such a strategy was attempted in the Pacific the ultimate results were not altogether favorable to the country that tried it "
But he also noted the obvious historical example had been left out of these doctrinal writings. From my perspective, this analysis tells us several things about Chinese strategic thinking:
First that Chinese generals like generals the world over tend to like plans better if they ignore inconvenient realities - like China's dearth of airlift and sealift capabilities to carry out a more difficult cross-channel invasion than D-Day. Or the reaction of the American public to a sneak attack on the U.S. Navy. Or Taiwan's ability to repel an invasion. Or...or....or....
Secondly, the generals are politically obligated by the CCP leadership to come up with something that has a hope of achieving reunification of Taiwan on Chinese terms. Considering this whole strategy is premised on " We can't win a major with the United States but here's how we'll risk one anyway" the overriding importance to China's rulers of preventing formal Taiwanese independence should be obvious. It's not just a vital interest but the paramount one.
Third, the Chinese are not stupid. If we ( from their viewpoint) permit Taiwan to back Beijing into a corner they will strike first and most likely it is going to hurt. They are well aware of our systemic weaknesses and the tendency we have to neglect the unglamorous basics or build sufficient redundancy into our critical systems to weather a crisis. Moreover, they aren't the only people who've noticed.
The first strategic reality that needs to be understood is that the entire globe is an asymmetric position relative to the United States and that other nations will act accordingly. This is why we need an " Asian NATO" - there are too many potential conflicts in Asia between great regional powers where the United States cannot help but be dragged in if war breaks out. We need to cool these incipient rivalries down before they acquire irreversible momentum.
" The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances as though they were realities" -- Machiavelli