What is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait? For a growing number of analysts and officials in capitals around the world, the answer is straightforward: An invasion or blockade of Taiwan by the People’s Liberation Army.
Such a fear is not without reason. China’s overt military threats to the island have grown steadily since 2016, when the Chinese government cut off formal contact with Taipei after the inauguration of Tsai Ing-wen as president. China’s military regularly conducts drills in the Taiwan Strait in order to signal resolve and hone its capabilities to seize and control Taiwan. The joint air and sea exercises that the People’s Liberation Army conducted after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan in August 2022 were widely seen as a rehearsal for a blockade. And, although Chinese leader Xi Jinping has not articulated a precise timeline to invade Taiwan, authoritative statements and documents clearly threaten to use military force to compel “reunification” if Beijing concludes it has no better options.
Preparing for a possible invasion or blockade, including ensuring that Taiwan and the United States have the capabilities to deter and defeat the Chinese military, remains essential. Indeed, the very foundation of any effective approach to maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait begins with the Chinese Communist Party assessing that the United States has the means and determination to respond to a Chinese military attack. […]
Taiwan’s government, legislature, civil society groups, and media outlets have worked assiduously to expose and counter disinformation and increase media literacy. The United States should do as much as possible to support Taiwan’s efforts to build resilience against disinformation campaigns. To strengthen U.S.-Taiwanese cooperation and more effectively respond to Chinese disinformation, Shen has advocated that Washington and Taipei establish a “center of excellence” to analyze and respond to disinformation campaigns, including investigating the source of campaigns through the identification of IP addresses. The United States and its allies should also advocate for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and nongovernmental organizations that create rules and norms for internet governance and wireless communications.
It is unrealistic to expect that Taiwan will ever fully combat Chinese gray-zone tactics, given the power imbalance across the Taiwan Strait and Beijing’s ever-evolving toolkit. But Taipei, along with external partners, should prioritize building the capabilities to blunt the more pernicious aspects of the People’s Republic of China’s pressure campaign. While the United States should develop the capability to deter and defeat a Chinese amphibious invasion, that scenario remains a low probability. What’s more, Taiwan is under assault day in and day out through the types of intimidation, boundary probing, and coercion described above. The discussions on and preparations for deterring a direct attack or blockade cannot come at the expense of the types of investments needed to ensure Taiwan’s continuing resiliency and confidence.
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