Members of the Chinese military in Beijing, October 2022. Florence Lo / Reuters

The risk of a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait is becoming dire. On Feb. 2, CIA Director William Burns stated that Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered China’s military to be “ready by 2027 to conduct a successful invasion” of Taiwan. Although Burns added that this did not mean that Xi has decided to invade Taiwan, he described Xi’s move as “a reminder of the seriousness of his focus and his ambition”.

But the main factor that will determine whether Washington and Beijing come to blows over Taiwan is not necessarily Xi’s strategy for unification but the idiosyncrasies of China’s political system.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Taiwan, Friends Are Starting to Turn Against Each Other

A friend of mine in Taipei recently wrote a passionate Facebook post urging young people in Taiwan to prepare for war with China. The only way to respond to Chinese threats to seize the island was, he argued, with strength; anything else was a delusion. Despite being in his 60s, he vowed to take up arms if necessary.

It’s become a troublingly common sentiment in Taiwan, and I messaged him privately to say that strength should be only a part of Taiwan’s strategy, that our politicians and other public figures should show true courage by reaching out to China to somehow de-escalate.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las maniobras militares chinas y estadounidenses alrededor de la gran isla de Taiwán no presagian una guerra inminente. Todo lo contrario. Me parece, más bien, que exhiben su poder para no tener que utilizarlo. Todo el mundo conoce el coste de la guerra, que siempre es superior a lo previsto, y nadie calcula de antemano los beneficios que se derivarán de ella. Del lado estadounidense, por tanto, la estrategia es claramente defensiva: exhibe su equipo y su determinación verbal. En esa lógica, se refuerzan alianzas con vecinos a los que China amenaza, como Corea del Sur, Japón, Filipinas, Australia e India.…  Seguir leyendo »

La tensión militar ha vuelto al estrecho de Taiwán. El contexto evoca lo sucedido en agosto último. Si entonces el desencadenante fue la visita a la isla de la presidenta de la Cámara de Representantes Nancy Pelosi, ahora fue el encuentro de su sucesor, Kevin McCarthy, con la presidenta Tsai Ing-wen en suelo estadounidense, algo que ocurre por primera vez desde la ruptura de relaciones diplomáticas en 1979.

Mucho del devenir de la política en Taiwán pasa por Estados Unidos. Acaba de iniciar su visita a este país Ko Wen-je, líder del Partido Popular de la isla, que se postula a las elecciones presidenciales de 2024 y busca la credencial o el plácet de Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Vale la pena defender a Taiwán?

Nadie parece saber cómo reaccionaría Estados Unidos si China invadiera Taiwán. Durante décadas, los líderes norteamericanos hicieron todo lo posible para evitar esta cuestión. Luego, en septiembre del año pasado, el presidente Joe Biden pareció haber puesto fin a la política de “ambigüedad estratégica” de Washington cuando dijo que las tropas estadounidenses defenderían la isla en caso de “un ataque sin precedentes”. Pero casi inmediatamente después de que hablara Biden, los funcionarios de la Casa Blanca se retractaron e insistieron en que la política de Estados Unidos hacia Taiwán no había cambiado.

Mientras que el Tratado de Seguridad de Estados Unidos y Japón de 1960 obliga a Estados Unidos a entrar en guerra si el territorio japonés es atacado, Estados Unidos no tiene un tratado semejante con Taiwán.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Taiwanese flag, Taipei, December 2022. Ann Wang / Reuters

In the West and parts of Asia, concern is mounting that China might invade Taiwan to distract from mounting domestic challenges or because Chinese leaders imagine that their window of opportunity to seize the island is closing. Facing an economic slowdown and rising unemployment, some analysts argue, Beijing might be tempted to launch a military offensive to rally popular support. In January 2023, for instance, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, speculated that Chinese President Xi Jinping might create an external crisis “to divert domestic attention or to show to the Chinese that he has accomplished something”.

Other analysts warn of an impending war because China’s rise is slowing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Annette Lu, center, a former vice president of Taiwan, at a pro-peace rally in Taipei. Chiang Ying-Ying/Associated Press

Three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Annette Lu, a former vice president of Taiwan, stood before reporters to promote a wildly unpopular idea. China and Taiwan, she said, should form a commonwealth that would be integrated economically, like the European Union, but remain separate politically. She called it One Zhonghua — a word that means “Chinese” in a cultural, ethnic or literary sense but is distinct from the word that refers to China in a political sense. It was a wink at the Chinese Communist Party’s insistence that there is only one China and that Taiwan is an inextricable part of it.…  Seguir leyendo »

A War With China Would Be Unlike Anything Americans Have Faced Before

A major war in the Indo-Pacific is probably more likely now than at any time since the Second World War.

The most probable spark is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. President Xi Jinping of China has said unifying Taiwan with mainland China “must be achieved”. His Communist Party regime has become sufficiently strong — militarily, economically and industrially — to take Taiwan and directly challenge the United States for regional supremacy.

The United States has vital strategic interests at stake. A successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan would punch a hole in the U.S. and allied chain of defenses in the region, seriously undermining America’s strategic position in the Western Pacific, and would probably cut off U.S.…  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 »

Taiwanese soldiers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, January 2023. Ann Wang / Reuters

Since the Ukraine war began, a growing number of U.S. officials have stressed the urgency of deterring Chinese military action against Taiwan. President Xi Jinping’s comments in October reinforced this view when he declared that China was prepared to take “all measures necessary” against foreign “interference” on the island and that “the wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification” with it. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Beijing may intend to seize Taiwan on a “much faster timeline” than previously thought.

Despite this assessment, the United States has not devoted sufficient attention to the current approach to deterrence—and whether it is adequate to meet an accelerated threat.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinook helicopters carrying Taiwan flags fly near the Taipei 101 skyscraper during the country’s National Day celebration in Taipei, Taiwan. October 10, 2022. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The biggest flash point between the U.S. and China looks increasingly unstable, as Washington seeks to maintain primacy in the region and Beijing pursues unification with the island.

Unification has long been China’s objective. Beijing says it hopes this happens peacefully, but it will not rule out force. Washington’s assessment is that Xi Jinping has set 2027 as the date by which China’s military should be capable of seizing Taiwan. For its part, the U.S. maintains a “One China” policy – aiming for a peaceful resolution of Taiwan’s status without prejudging the outcome – and a posture of “strategic ambiguity” about whether it would come to Taiwan’s defence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, foreground left, meets with soldiers at a military base in Chiayi, Taiwan, on Friday. (Taiwanese presidential office/AP)

It is both thrilling and sobering to visit Taiwan nearly a year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It’s inspiring to see the achievements of the Taiwanese people in building a flourishing democracy — the first in China’s long history — under the constant shadow of attack from the People’s Republic of China. Taipei is a vibrant city of 2.6 million people full of high-rise office and apartment buildings, shopping malls and “night markets”, beef noodle parlors and bubble tea shops. It is the capital of a de facto nation that is far freer and wealthier than the mainland (per capita gross domestic product is nearly three times higher).…  Seguir leyendo »

The Taiwan Long Game

For 70 years, China and the United States have managed to avoid disaster over Taiwan. But a consensus is forming in U.S. policy circles that this peace may not last much longer. Many analysts and policymakers now argue that the United States must use all its military power to prepare for war with China in the Taiwan Strait. In October 2022, Mike Gilday, the head of the U.S. Navy, warned that China might be preparing to invade Taiwan before 2024. Members of Congress, including Democratic Representative Seth Moulton and Republican Representative Mike Gallagher, have echoed Gilday’s sentiment.

There are sound rationales for the United States to focus on defending Taiwan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Wayne Chiang, great-grandson of the late President Chiang Kai-shek from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), hold flags while listening to his election campaign in New Taipei City on Nov. 5. Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

When senior Chinese and U.S. officials met from Dec. 11 to 12 in Hebei and agreed to “properly handle” the Taiwan question, analysts were quick to make comparisons between Russia’s horrifying invasion of Ukraine and a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. China is now prepared to “gobble Taiwan”, one headline read. In a Hudson Institute talk last month, John Hemmings, senior director of Indo-Pacific foreign and security policy at Pacific Forum International, said Chinese President Xi Jinping “wants to unify Taiwan by force or by diplomacy, but he’s quite prepared and quite willing and seems to be even further preparing to do it by force”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lo que la compañía más importante del mundo debe hacer

Taiwán, país al que muchas veces se hace referencia como el “escudo de silicio”, produce un asombroso 65% de los semiconductores del mundo y más del 90% de los chips de más alta gama. Como tal, ninguna empresa es más excepcionalmente importante para la economía global que TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company). Los microchips avanzados de TSMC son indispensables para los iPhones, los dispositivos médicos, las plataformas de lanzamiento de misiles y muchas otras tecnologías, y prácticamente no tienen rivales. Los países y las empresas que no pueden disponer de los semiconductores más avanzados de TSMC simplemente no pueden desarrollar ciertas tecnologías críticas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaking at a rally in Taipei, November 2022. Ann Wang / Reuters

For the people of Taiwan, joining with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has never been less appealing. According to a frequently cited tracking survey by National Chengchi University, the share of Taiwanese residents who want to unify immediately with the mainland has always been minuscule, consistently less than three percent. But the percentage that think Taiwan should eventually move toward unification—that is, not necessarily with today’s Chinese regime—has fallen dramatically, from 20 percent in 1996 to five percent today. In the last two presidential elections, the historically pro-unification Kuomintang party (KMT) has suffered landslide defeats, failing to garner even 40 percent of the vote either time.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Guerra por Taiwán?

¿Es posible una guerra entre Estados Unidos y China por Taiwán? China considera que la isla —ubicada a 90 millas (145 kilómetros) de su costa— es una provincia renegada, y el presidente Xi Jinping mencionó el tema en el reciente 20.° Congreso del Partido Comunista de China (PCCh). Aunque Xi afirmó que prefiere una reunificación pacífica, su objetivo fue claro y no descartó el uso de la fuerza. Mientras tanto, en Taiwán, el porcentaje de la población que se solo identifica como taiwanesa sigue superando al de quienes se consideran tanto taiwaneses como chinos.

Desde hace mucho EE. UU. trata de convencer a Taiwán de que no declare oficialmente su independencia y de evitar que China use la fuerza contra la isla, pero China ha estado aumentando su capacidad militar y el presidente de EE. …  Seguir leyendo »

La reunión de Biden y Xi olvida a Ucrania para concentrarse en Taiwán

Es difícil imaginar una reunión más transcendental que la que los presidentes Biden y Xi acaban de mantener en los aledaños de la reunión del G-20 en Bali. La ausencia de Putin, sin duda, ha facilitado la redacción de un comunicado final en el que la mayoría de los miembros del G-20—aunque no todos— deploran la invasión de Ucrania por parte de Rusia y solicitan que las tropas rusas se retiren. En cambio, el resto —entre los que se encuentra China— declara de manera abierta no ver las cosas así, haciendo referencia expresa a las sanciones como problema. A pesar del comunicado, la guerra en Ucrania no parece haber sido el fondo del diálogo bilateral entre Biden y Xi, sino Taiwán.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taiwanese tanks fire at targets during a live-fire exercise in Penghu, Taiwan, on Oct. 19. (Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) (Ritchie B Tongo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Taiwan now faces a more powerful foe in Chinese President Xi Jinping. Last month’s Chinese Communist Party congress freed Xi of the last internal checks on his power, bestowing upon him a status akin to that of an emperor. For Taiwan’s leaders, that increases the already high risk of conflict. They are warning that time is running out to do what’s needed to avoid war and save their democracy.

In my meetings with senior Taiwanese government leaders last week in Taipei, several officials shared their concerns about the outcome of the congress. Xi’s bellicose statements on Taiwan at the congress, and the fact he amended the party constitution to say that China will “resolutely oppose and contain Taiwan independence”, continue a trend of rising threats and aggression.…  Seguir leyendo »

A military exercise in Pingtung, Taiwan, July 2022. Ann Wang / Reuters.

As tension rises between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan, strategists on all sides seem to have forgotten what the American game theorist Thomas Schelling taught years ago: deterring an adversary from taking a proscribed action requires a combination of credible threats and credible assurances. Instead of heeding that lesson, a growing number of U.S. analysts and officials have called for the United States to treat Taiwan as if it were an independent state and to abandon the long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” in favor of “strategic clarity”, defined as an unconditional commitment to use military force to defend the island in the event of a mainland Chinese attack.…  Seguir leyendo »