Written by Corey Bell. A problem in recent public commentary on tensions between China and Taiwan has been a conflation of what we know and what we fear. Nowhere is this more evident than on the topic of incursions by Chinese military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ. is month saw a shift from a pattern of incremental increases in the number of People’s Liberation Army Air Force aircraft participating in coordinated incursions into Taiwanese airspace to an exponential explosion. The campaign peaked at 56 aircraft on 4 October, with 159 over the four-day period of 1–4 October.
Written by Corey Lee Bell. In part one of this series, I discussed how important it is for the US to move quickly to convince China that its withdrawal from Afghanistan is not symptomatic of a retreat towards isolationism but rather part of a strategy of redirecting American resources to the Indo-Pacific and the defence of Taiwan in particular. However, with the Biden administration likely to stop short of formally declaring ‘strategic clarity’ (i.e., that it will definitely fight China if it invaded or embargoed Taiwan), and with China thus far having a low estimation of America’s resolve and capacity to defend the island, I suggested demonstrating this through actions that show that America is not only strengthening its regional presence, but also its preparedness and combat readiness.
Written by Scott L. Kastner. relationship has become dramatically more antagonistic since 2016. Since taking office in that year, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has been less willing to accommodate the PRC on core sovereignty issues than was her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou. Beijing, in turn, has steadily increased coercive pressure on the island. Most notably, PRC military activities near Taiwan have increased sharply over the past few years.
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 Shih Yueh Yang. Is Taiwan the Most Dangerous Place on Earth? Not yet, as the Economist has put it. Although the tension between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has grown, not a single shot has ever been fired. In contrast, thousands of rockets have already exploded over Gaza/Israel border, and hundreds of people have died. Taiwan still enjoys peace and happiness either in relative or absolute terms.
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 Raian Hossain. Tensions over cross-strait relations and the United States’ (US) involvement are not a new phenomenon. The problem remains unresolved as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) claims that the Republic of China (ROC) is a breakaway mainland province. However, about 64 per cent of Taiwan’s population perceives themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese despite the absence of any official call for independence. Even though the US officially performs under the one-China policy, it has continued to ensure the existence of the ROC separately for over 50 years.
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.”