According to newly-disclosed internal Chinese military documents, China drew up a secret plan to invade and conquer Taiwan, which it considers little more than a renegade province, by 2020, an action that would most likely trigger a conflict with the United States that could end in a nuclear exchange.

The secret war plan drawn up by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Chinese Communist Party’s armed forces, calls for massive missile attacks on the island, along with a naval and air blockade that is followed by amphibious beach landing assaults using up to 400,000 troops.

The plans and operations are outlined in a new book published this week, The Chinese Invasion Threat by Ian Easton, a China affairs analyst with the Project 2049 Institute, a think tank.

The danger of a Taiwan conflict has grown in recent years even as current tensions between Washington and Beijing are mainly the result of U.S. opposition to Chinese militarization in the South China Sea and China’s covert support of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Of all the powder kegs out there, the potential for a war over Taiwan is by far the largest and most explosive,” claims the 290-page book. It adds that the growing potential for war with China over Taiwan among Pentagon military planners will only grow in the coming years.

“China has made clear that its primary external objective is attaining the ability to apply overwhelming force against Taiwan during a conflict, and if necessary destroy American-led coalition forces,” says the book.

Taiwan is a democracy, and that is viewed as a threat by China’s communist ruling class.

“Consequently, the PLA considers the invasion of Taiwan to be its most critical mission, and it is this envisioned future war that drives China’s military buildup,” says the book.

Parts of the PLA invasion scheme were first revealed publicly by the Taiwan Defense Ministry in late 2013. The plan calls for military operations against the island to be carried out by 2020.

The invasion program was confirmed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the major Communist Party meeting five years ago when Xi committed to “continue the 2020 Plan, whereby we build and deploy a complete operational capability to use force against Taiwan by that year.”

Other internal PLA writings that surfaced recently indicate China is ready to use force when it believes non-military means are not successful in forcing the capitulation to Beijing’s demands, and if the United States can be kept out of the battle.

According to the book, China’s invasion plan is known as the Joint Island Attack Campaign.

Under provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the U.S. is required to provide the island nation with defensive weaponry. But China’s plan calls for a rapid, lethal invasion that would see Taiwan’s surrender before the U.S. could deploy significant forces to help repel the invasion. And of course, the Chinese would be anticipating any American counterattack.

Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 2: What are the latest indicators of a U.S.-China conflict?  Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region.  Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.