Oriana Skylar Mastro

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting in eastern Russia, September 2023. Mikhail Metzel / Kremlin / Reuters

North Korea has long been a source of instability, but a new development over the past year threatens to make things even worse: the country is teaming up with Russia. At a meeting in Pyongyang last July, North Korea’s defense minister, Kang Sun Nam, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, vowed to expand their countries’ military cooperation to “resolutely stand against” their “common enemy”, the United States. Then, at a September summit with President Vladimir Putin in Russia, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un toasted the Kremlin’s “sacred struggle” against “a band of evil”—a reference to Western countries—and called Putin the “Korean people’s closest friend”.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. vessels conduct a passing honors ceremony with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Pacific Ocean in 2021. (Haydn N. Smith/U.S. Navy/AP)

Most world leaders, including President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, agree that the defense of Taiwan is crucial for regional security. But most options for improving deterrence will take too long. Building Taiwan’s self-defense, developing more U.S. firepower in the region, creating the economic resilience to make severe sanctions feasible: None of these will come to fruition before 2030.

Japan could change the game now. Allied forces, responding immediately and en masse, have a chance of thwarting a Chinese invasion, according to a recent report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies. But, in meetings with high-level officials in Tokyo last month, I sensed a mismatch between talk and walk.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, September 2021. Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

As relations between the United States and China have spiraled down to a half-century low, a frightening new narrative has taken hold among some U.S. analysts and policymakers. It supposes that China’s window of opportunity to “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland—one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s core foreign policy objectives—is closing rapidly, intensifying the pressure on Beijing to act swiftly and forcefully while it still has the chance.

This narrative rests on the belief that China’s rise is nearing its end. Unprecedented demographic decline, a heavy debt burden, uneven innovation, and other serious economic problems have slowed China’s growth and are likely to slow it even further, leaving the country without the military power or political influence to challenge the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the afternoon of August 4th, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) kicked off the largest and most sophisticated military exercises it has ever conducted. Over the course of a week, the Chinese launched dozens of missiles and conducted drills near Taiwan with 100 aircraft, ten destroyers and support vessels. Submarines and aircraft-carriers also played a role. The display has made the third Taiwan Strait crisis, which occurred between 1995-96, when China conducted four rounds of tests over the course of several months, with barrages of no more than six missiles, look like child’s play.

Part of the rationale for the latest exercise was to signal Beijing’s anger over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Eastern European nationals living in Taiwan stage a die-in during a demonstration at Free Square in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on April 17. Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a double disaster for President Vladimir Putin, as he faces a poorly performing military combined with an inability to shield his country from economic punishment. Both of these possibilities historically have also been sources of apprehension for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But China’s leadership turned its anxiety into action about 10 years ago, deliberately working to fix many of the problems and minimize the risks currently plaguing Russia in Ukraine.

One result is that the Chinese military is more likely to perform well even though it has not fought a war since 1979, when it lost thousands of troops in a punitive but brief invasion of Vietnam.…  Seguir leyendo »