China will invade Taiwan in the near future, raising an official Pentagon assessment. However, there are doubts about the accuracy of this statement, as several U.S. military leaders and experts, including the writer of this article, are skeptical of such an assessment, considering it too optimistic.
First, let’s understand Why Taiwan matters to the USA from a geopolitics perspective.
Taiwan holds significant importance to the United States for several reasons:
Firstly, Taiwan’s strategic location in the Western Pacific is significant. It is situated near major shipping routes and neighboring countries, providing the United States with a vantage point to monitor and influence regional security and stability. Control over Taiwan by an adversary could potentially disrupt regional dynamics, contradicting the U.S. interest in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Secondly, the security and defense of Taiwan are crucial to the United States. Taiwan is an independent and democratic entity with its own government and military. The U.S. considers Taiwan, a regional partner and is committed to preserving its security. This commitment is reflected in the Taiwan Relations Act, which emphasizes the provision of defensive weapons to Taiwan.
Thirdly, Taiwan plays a significant role in regional stability in East Asia. The stability and security of Taiwan directly impact the broader region. Any threat or use of force against Taiwan could lead to regional conflicts.
The United States aims to prevent such conflicts and maintain stability, as it has a vested interest in peace and security for economic, political, and strategic reasons.
Furthermore, the United States values Taiwan as a fellow democracy that upholds human rights and the rule of law. Supporting Taiwan aligns with America’s commitment to promoting democratic principles globally and building relationships with like-minded nations.
Economically, Taiwan is an important partner for the United States. It is a significant trading partner and a high-tech manufacturing and innovation center. Strengthening economic ties with Taiwan benefits both countries and contributes to economic growth and technological advancement.
Finally, supporting Taiwan serves as a counterbalance to China’s influence. China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and seeks reunification, employing diplomatic and military pressure.
The United States supports Taiwan as a means to counterbalance China’s influence in the region and deter coercive actions that could disrupt stability or threaten U.S. interests.
The latent threat
There is circumstantial evidence to suggest that China was seriously contemplating an attack on Taiwan last year. According to the private intelligence company Bellingcat, Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in December 2021, plans to invade Taiwan in the fall of 2022. However, Xi has likely postponed these plans after observing the strong Western response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A historical conflict and current ambitions
For China, the recovery of Taiwan represents both an existential ideological mission and a vital geopolitical mission. Since the Chinese civil war, which was frozen when the nationalists took refuge on the island, the obsession of Chinese leaders has been to recover that territory. Xi Jinping, who envisions himself as the next Mao Zedong, believes that he will be the leader to achieve this undertaking.
United States: ally or stakeholder?
The United States has maintained a position of support for Taiwan but without fully clarifying its position. Although it provides weapons and military support, Washington’s true intent remains ambiguous. Given the deep and longstanding trade relationship between the United States and China, preserving trade ties has been a priority for most American politicians, including former President Donald Trump.
President Joe Biden tangled diplomatically, saying he would defend Taiwan if China invaded. Still, Secretary of State Antony Blinken later reiterated the U.S.’s opposition to any unilateral attempt to upset the status quo. In this way, it remains in doubt whether the United States would support Taiwan if it declared its independence.
China and its attack strategy
Chinese leaders view the United States as a power in terminal decline and believe they could defeat its military might. Seeking to hamper any U.S. response, China has developed cyber, space and electromagnetic capabilities and long-range missiles aimed at destroying key military installations in the region, even before the invasion of Taiwan approaches.
However, the United States has its own strategic interests in the region. If Taiwan were to fall into Chinese hands, that would give China strategic control over the Taiwan Strait, a crucial seaway for global trade. In addition, China’s military presence in Taiwan could threaten the security of Japan and South Korea, two important U.S. allies in Asia.