Written by Elizabeth Freund Larus. In his April 2021 Foreign Affairs article “Washington Is Avoiding the Tough Questions on Taiwan and China,” international relations scholar Charles Glaser asks whether it is time for the United States to relinquish maritime hegemony in the Asia-Pacific. He concludes that Washington should retrench those areas that would be unacceptably costly in terms of lives and treasure to defend. One of those places is Taiwan. This determination method is reminiscent of Dean Acheson’s 1950 “perimeter speech.” He excluded South Korea and Taiwan from the US defensive perimeter in East Asia in the early years of the Cold War. Stalin and Mao were watching, and we know how the story on the Korean peninsula ended.
Written by Jacques deLisle. The Economist recently declared Taiwan “the most dangerous place on earth.” Indeed, it seems that although there have been the crises in the 1950s (when China’s military targeted offshore islands controlled by Taiwan), and also the missile crisis of the mid-1990s—when Beijing sought to deter Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui and Taiwanese voters from “pro-independence” moves—Taiwan again has become a focal point of potential conflict between the United States and China. The circumstances and, therefore, the dangers, however, are different than they were a quarter-century ago or during the early days of the Cold War.
Written by T.Y. Wang. Taiwan Strait has been widely viewed as a dangerous flashpoint for conflict. The popular Economist magazine recently characterised it as “the most dangerous place on earth” that could lead to a direct military conflict between the United States and China. During the past several decades, Washington’s policy of strategic ambiguity has worked remarkably well for maintaining peace and stability between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. A debate is underway if Washington should change its long-standing ambiguous approach by making a more explicit commitment to Taiwan security. Why is there a call for clarity? What is the logic behind Washington’s policy of strategic ambiguity? And is there a need for adjustment?
Written by Douglas Paal. In the early 1970s, I studied in Tokyo during the first OPEC-generated energy crisis. Against all prevailing common anxiety about the long-term shortage of energy, The Economist published a cover story entitled “The Coming Oil Glut,” which correctly predicted that demand would induce increased supply. It did. I was duly impressed.
Written by Corey Lee Bell and Harley Centner. Recent months have witnessed growing consternation among Western officials that a conflict across the Taiwan Strait is not only likely but relatively imminent. In early March, Admiral Philip Davidson, the Commander of United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), told a U.S. Senate armed services committee meeting that “the threat [of China taking Taiwan] is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.” Backing this up, his successor, U.S. Admiral John Aquilino, testified at his nomination hearing in late March that “this problem is much closer to us than most think.”
Written by J. Michael Cole. A recent cover story in The Economist referring to the Taiwan Strait as “the most dangerous place on earth” has caused mixed reactions in Taiwan and elsewhere. While the headline was certainly alarmist—one can imagine more dangerous places than Taiwan to be in, from Yemen to Afghanistan, Somalia to some neighbourhoods in Mexico, for example—the article nevertheless reflects the reality that no other geopolitical flashpoint today is as likely to spark major armed conflict than the Taiwan Strait. China has shown much greater hostility in the past year.
Written by Brian Hioe. An article in the May issue of The Economist caused strong reactions in Taiwan due to referring to Taiwan as “the most dangerous place on Earth.” In particular, the article cited the geopolitical risks to Taiwan–of being caught between great power competition between the US and China and facing the threat of Chinese invasion–as making Taiwan “the most dangerous place on Earth.”
Written by Mari Uchima. Most analyses of Taiwan’s security focus on cross-strait relations and the U.S.-China military balance. What is mostly missing in the debate is that the U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Japan, are critical to any U.S. defence of Taiwan due to their geographic proximity. Therefore, Taiwanese and analysts and students of Taiwan’s security should pay more attention to the ongoing developments there, as they have implications for Taiwan’s security.
Written by John W. Tai. The United States has long relied on weapons sales to demonstrate its support for the defense of Taiwan. This practice has incurred cost for both Taiwan and the United States due to its high visibility and significant financial resources for Taiwan. In addition, the growth of the Chinese military makes it increasingly unlikely for Taiwan to be successful in defending itself by relying simply on traditional military means.
Written by Bas van Beurden. Can the United States and China escape Thucydides Trap? While international relations experts grapple with the question whether the two powers are destined for war, a storm seems to be gathering in the Asia-Pacific, and it seems increasingly clear where lightning might strike. Considering recent developments, the Taiwan Straits seems to be the most likely battleground for Sino-American conflict. The prospect of conflict appears to be looming as Beijing closes in on Hong Kong and ratchets up its rhetoric on a forceful reunification with Taiwan.
Written by John F. Copper. Nearing the half-year point in her second term as president it is fitting to ask: how is President Tsai faring? It is a good time for a report card. On January 11, President Tsai won a resounding re-election victory over her KMT opponent Han Kuo-yu, the Mayor of Kaohsiung. Her party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), also secured a majority in the concurrent legislative vote, though it was not as impressive as Tsai’s win
Written by Mark W. Lai. Without a doubt, from an American perspective, Taiwan is still — or potentially will be —part of China. One election in the future, another pro-China high school textbook, a charming KMT politician, or a more productive and better China, will alter Taiwan’s identity and its enthusiasm in allying with the US. America is no fool, and Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia cannot protect themselves without American help.