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Chart: Taiwan’s Thinly Weaved Diplomatic Web

Source : Statista

China Sanctioning Taiwan Like Moving a Stone, Dropping it on Your Own Foot

Ralph Jennings, Ji Siqi and Luna Sun wrote . . . . . . . . .

Mainland China could target hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Taiwanese investments and two-way trade if tensions with the self-ruled island worsen after a sharp slide this week due to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, analysts said.

But they are targeting the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and probably saving any moves against high-value exports or direct investments as a final move, the analysts added, as measures against Taiwan could ripple back to the mainland.

“[Taiwanese] companies are such an integral part of the Chinese value chain that it becomes difficult to put too much pressure on those trade routes,” said Zennon Kapron, the Singapore-based director of financial industry research firm Kapronasia.

The People’s Liberation Army kick-started large-scale military drills following Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday night, while Beijing has already rolled out various economic sanctions.

Chinese customs suspended imports of Taiwanese citrus fruits, chilled white scallops and frozen mackerel from Wednesday, extending the list of banned items to more than 1,000 products as cross-Strait relations have deteriorated in recent years.

The Ministry of Commerce also suspended exports of natural sand, a raw material needed for the construction of transport infrastructure and water projects.

“China’s constant opinion has been that any unilateral economic sanctions are double-edged. However, Pelosi’s visit might well push China into restricting certain imports from Taiwan and the US, but I do think that such restrictions will be very limited,” said Tao Jingzhou, an international arbitrator who has practised in Beijing, Hong Kong and London.

“As retaliation, the US might increase export control measures for technology and also increase scrutiny of activities of Chinese companies in the US. This visit will further deteriorate the US-China relations across the board.”

Mainland China will probably strike at farming and small manufacturers in parts of southern Taiwan where President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party has its main strongholds, said Chen Yi-fan, an assistant professor of diplomacy and international relations at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

Beijing hopes to influence Taiwan’s local elections in November, Chen said, with the party that wins most seats often shaping the outcome of the presidential race two years later.

Tsai’s ruling party takes a guarded view toward China, while its main opposition prefers a more conciliatory stance.

Beijing is expected to release sanctions “bit by bit” to gauge responses in Taiwan, said Yu Xiang, an adjunct fellow at the Centre for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University.

Export bans can be cancelled as quickly as they are announced and some have called the existing suspensions largely symbolic because farming and fishery exports make up just a fraction of Taiwan’s US$765 billion economy.

China had already banned imports of Taiwanese confectionery, biscuits, bread and aquatic products in the lead up to Pelosi’s visit.

“Processed food is not even in the top 10 items that Taiwan exports to China, so China’s move is currently only symbolic,” said Darson Chiu, a fellow with the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research’s international affairs department in Taipei.

Taiwan’s export economy runs on shipments of semiconductors and consumer electronics, followed by machinery and petrochemicals.

But to penalise key goods would hurt numerous Taiwanese people, stoking anti-Chinese sentiment, and strike at the mainland’s own economy, some analysts said.

“Taiwanese businesses are a major component of China investors, and Taiwan is part of China,” said Hong Hao, an author and independent China economist.

“Therefore, to sanction Taiwan is just like moving a stone and dropping it on your own foot, plus it deepens divisions between the two sides.”

The US-China trade war, which has been ongoing since 2018, has shown that sanctions aimed at one country hurt both sides, said Wang Huiyao, founder of Beijing-based think tank, the Centre for China and Globalisation.

“In the end, the US consumer and companies are paying the price for that. I don’t think that the economic sanctions are going to work,” Wang said.

“In the long run, we really have to find a way not to dissolve the status quo and really keep the peace and prosperity in the region.”

Any ban on imports of Taiwanese petrochemicals, machinery, transport goods and textiles would also violate the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement trade deal signed by the two sides in 2010 when political relations had reached a peak, Chiu added.

Taiwanese investors have put money into mainland Chinese since the 1980s, and their 4,200 enterprises employ numerous staff, while they also help to drive economies near Shanghai and in the Pearl River Delta.

Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology and Pegatron make equipment for US multinational technology company Apple at mega factories in mainland China.

Lu Xiang, a researcher on US studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said sanction will not be used as a major tool and that Beijing will refrain from escalating to a full-scale economic war.

“The mainland still aims for economic integration with the island over the long run. Companies which support pro-independence and some industries will be sanctioned or hit, but the impact will be limited. Mainland China is one of the only few trading partners that Taiwan has maintained a trade surplus with,” said Lu.

Chinese smartphone makers particularly depend on Taiwanese semiconductors, which the Boston Consulting Group said makes up 92 per cent of world’s capacity.

“I think the challenge for mainland China is the fact that it is so heavily reliant on the high-end chips and technology that’s coming out of Taiwan,” Kapron added.

Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway part of its territory and has vowed to take back control of the island, by force if necessary, while it also resents US influence in Taiwan’s military or political space.

But Taiwanese leaders will make no policy changes in response to sanctions, according to Chen from Tamkang University, as neither side wants to look weak.

Tsai opposes China’s goal of unification with Taiwan and has courted foreign support for her cause since taking office in 2016.

“Now there is a deep distrust across the strait, so nothing Tsai does will bring comfort to the other side,” Chen said.

The Taipei government made no immediate comment in response to Wednesday’s trade bans, but Lo Ping-cheng, minister without portfolio and spokesman, said the cabinet would help business operators “respond appropriately” to any fallout from Pelosi’s visit.


Source : Yahoo!

Top Economist Urges China to Seize TSMC If US Ramps Up Sanctions

A senior Chinese economist at a government-run research group called on authorities to seize Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. if the US hits China with sanctions on par with those leveled against Russia.

“If the US and the West impose destructive sanctions on China like sanctions against Russia, we must recover Taiwan,” said Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. The research group is overseen by the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency.

“Especially in the reconstruction of the industrial chain and supply chain, we must seize TSMC,” Chen said in a speech last month hosted by the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University, which was posted online Tuesday by the nationalistic news website Guancha.

“They are speeding up the transfer to the US to build six factories there,” she added. “We must not let all the goals of the transfer be achieved.”

The comments are some of the most prominent so far showing how Taiwan’s chip industry is seen in Beijing as a key strategic asset in the intensifying rivalry between the world’s two largest economies. TSMC is the world’s largest contract manufacturer of semiconductors, accounting for more than 50% of the global foundry market, which involves businesses purely making chips for other companies. Its customers include Apple Inc., which relies on Taiwanese chips for iPhones.

A TSMC representative declined to comment on Chen’s remarks. Media reports have said TSMC will build six chip fabs in the US, but the company has announced just one so far. It has bought more land for possible construction.

It’s unclear how the scenario Chen described would occur, given the US and other nations only leveled harsh economic sanctions on Russia after it invaded Ukraine in February. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory that must be brought under control by force if necessary, while the government in Taipei asserts it’s already a de facto independent nation in need of wider international recognition.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has sought to achieve tech self-sufficiency, and tapped economic czar Liu He to shepherd a key initiative aimed at helping domestic chipmakers overcome U.S. sanctions. Those sanctions, which emerged during Donald Trump’s presidency, are impeding longer-term efforts by chipmakers including Huawei Technologies Co.’s HiSilicon and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. from migrating toward more advanced wafer fabrication technologies.

At the same time, President Joe Biden has announced plans to put $52 billion into domestic semiconductor research, development and production as part of the administration’s broad China competition bill, which is still awaiting approval.


Source : BNN Bloomberg

Five Lessons Taiwan Is Learning from the War in Ukraine

Lili Pike wrote . . . . . . . . .

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has elicited global outrage and pledges of support for the Ukrainian people. In Taiwan, it has also provoked an existential fear.

People in Taiwan have been riveted by the news from Ukraine, and for good reason. As tensions have risen between China and the U.S., Taiwanese officials and military analysts have warned of a growing risk of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. China claims the self-governed island as its own province and has vowed to reunite it with the mainland. The conversation has long been hypothetical; now, many Taiwanese have seen a version of their worst fears playing out in Europe.

Well before the war began, Taiwan’s leadership was already watching Ukraine — a country living, as Taiwan does, in the shadow of an aggressive autocratic neighbor. “Taiwan has been facing military threats and intimidation from China for a long time,” President Tsai Ying-Wen said at a national security meeting on Jan. 28. “Therefore, we empathize with Ukraine’s situation and support the efforts of all parties involved to maintain regional security.”

Tsai created a task force to study the growing conflict and its implications for Taiwan’s future. As the war has unfolded, Taiwan has joined Western allies in sanctioning Russia and sending aid — a stark contrast to China, which has declined to condemn the invasion and blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking Russia.

“I think the people here, they are rooting for Ukraine and it has something to do with what might happen to Taiwan,” said Lai I-Chung, a senior adviser to Taiwan Thinktank and former director of China Affairs for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. “We want the Ukrainian people to be able to succeed in defeating the invading enemy. But we also hope that the international community can have a better or more progressive response to help the Ukraine people to defend against Russia, precisely due to the implication to Taiwan.”

It will be a long time before the broad lessons of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine are well understood. But experts tell Grid there are already important preliminary lessons for Taiwan and for all nations keeping a close eye on the Taiwan Strait.

A mirror for Taiwan (albeit an imperfect one)

The parallels between Taiwan and Ukraine are clear.

Historically, both have been ruled by powerful autocratic neighbors. Ukraine was a Soviet republic before the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991; Taiwan was ruled by the last Chinese imperial dynasty, the Qing, until Japan took control of the island in 1895. In recent years, both have grown closer to their Western allies, and those closer ties have been met by increasingly sharper threats. China and Russia have spun similar narratives about Western infringement and aggression: Russia used the eastern expansion of NATO as a pretext for war, and China has called Taiwan’s growing relationship with the West a provocation.

Most fundamentally for citizens of Taiwan and Ukraine alike, they have heard for years that theirs is not a real nation and that their land would one day be returned to its rightful ruler. Now that Putin has acted on his threat, Taiwanese are worried that the parallels will continue and put their sovereignty at risk.

But experts are also quick to point out important differences.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been recognized by the world as a sovereign state, whereas Taiwan exists in murkier waters. Since 1979, the U.S. has recognized the People’s Republic of China (the mainland) rather than the Republic of China (Taiwan). It’s a formula followed for geopolitical reasons by most of the world; only 14 countries recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. (Diplomatically, China does not allow countries to simultaneously have official relations with both).

Taiwan has also figured more prominently in U.S. foreign policy than Ukraine. China, not Russia, is the U.S.’s principal rival, and Taiwan sits in waters that are critical for global trade, military and even internet activity. (Important undersea cables run around Taiwan). “It occupies the most critical strategic terrain arguably on the planet today,” said Ian Easton, senior director of the Project 2049 Institute, an American think tank that advocates for U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific.

Taiwan is also an economic powerhouse. It is the U.S.’s ninth-largest trading partner, while Ukraine takes the 67th slot. Its GDP ranked 21st in the world last year; Ukraine’s was 57th. And Taiwan is the world’s leading manufacturer of semiconductors — the chips that are central to modern technology worldwide.

Another significant difference involves geography. Taiwan is an island. From a tactical perspective, that makes it a far more difficult target than Ukraine; it would be much harder for China to launch an invasion across 100 miles of water than it has been for Russian troops to cross the land border with Ukraine.

“It is well known that any potential Chinese attempt to invade Taiwan would be extremely high-risk in military terms,” Timothy Heath, a senior international defense researcher at the Rand Corporation, told Grid.

Lessons from Ukraine

Grid spoke with military and strategic analysts and Taiwan experts about the conflict’s lessons for Taiwanese policymakers and ordinary citizens. These experts don’t always agree — and all note that the lessons may change as the war plays out. But they offer initial answers to the question: What are the main takeaways from the war in Ukraine, as seen from Taiwan?

1. Prepare for war

For many in Taiwan, Putin’s invasion has made clear the need for greater preparedness. If a war that had seemed unlikely could come to Ukraine, then the same may prove true for Taiwan, and the Taiwanese have seen the effectiveness of fierce resistance put up by Ukrainian soldiers and civilians.

“I think one of the consequences of the Ukraine invasion is telling people in Taiwan that the people matter and the will to resist matters,” said Lai, “and Taiwan actually enjoys better odds to defend itself in the face of invasion. If Ukraine can do it, then Taiwanese people can do it as well.”

Taiwan has been building its military power in recent years as China’s own military prowess has risen substantially. In the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, Tsai called for a further strengthening of the island’s defenses.

Experts also said the war underscores Taiwan’s need to ready its entire society for a potential conflict. “Taiwan should draw the lesson that it should have a strong reserve force and a territorial defense plan that includes arming civilians,” said Bonnie Glaser, the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund. Journalist Hilton Yip wrote in Foreign Policy that the conflict has also led to growing calls for Taiwan to improve its current four-month mandatory conscription system.

2. Time to ease tensions with China

Some ordinary Taiwanese citizens draw a different lesson: Putin’s invasion means that Taiwan must mend relations with the mainland to ensure that tensions never escalate to actual war.

While survey data shows that very few Taiwanese people want to reunite with the mainland now, the majority supports maintaining the status quo and only a small minority wants to push for immediate full independence. So that means that the island, by and large, doesn’t want to aggravate Beijing.

Among the older generation, some remember past conflict and wish to avoid it at all costs. Tu Dong-siang, a 58-year-old woman, told the New York Times she grew up on Matsu, Taiwanese islands that were frequently shelled by mainland troops in the 1970s. “We know how horrific war can be,” she said. “That’s why I think for Ukraine, and for Taiwan, being able to live is the most important.”

From this perspective, the lesson of the Ukraine war is simple: Tsai must make it her top priority to ease tensions with Beijing.

3. “Ambiguity” may not be an effective deterrent

Until December, when the U.S. stated categorically that it wouldn’t send troops to help Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion, the U.S. position on troop deployment was unclear — an ambiguity seemingly intended to dissuade Russia from going to war. The U.S. has employed a similar approach of “strategic ambiguity” vis-à-vis Taiwan for decades, purposefully remaining unclear as to what the U.S. military would do in the event of a Chinese invasion of the island.

The U.S. has stuck with this “strategic ambiguity” policy as a balancing act, given its support for Taiwan’s democracy and the importance of the U.S.-China relationship. But for some in Taiwan, the Ukraine war casts doubt on the strategy.

“That actually tells us that the so-called strategic ambiguity, in terms of deterring aggressors, the value isn’t really that much,” said Lai. “If it failed to deter or dissuade the Russians from invading Ukraine, how much effectiveness will it have to dissuade or deter the possible Chinese aggression against Taiwan?”

Some prominent voices have said the lesson learned from Ukraine is that the U.S. needs a new Taiwan strategy. Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe said in a recent TV interview: “It is time to abandon this ambiguity strategy. The people of Taiwan share our universal values, so I think the U.S. should firmly abandon its ambiguity.”

Other experts warn that this would only escalate tensions with China. “For China, that could be a casus belli, you know, that could be a red line if the United States suddenly unambiguously commits to Taiwan’s defense or even goes further and tries to upgrade Taiwan’s diplomatic status,” said Michael Beckley, an associate professor of political science at Tufts University. “So I just think that would be foolish.”

4. The U.S. military may not come to the rescue

While the U.S. had no treaty or other obligation to intervene in Ukraine, the Taiwan Relations Act, signed into law in 1979, binds the U.S. to at least help Taiwan defend itself.

“Even though the United States and Taiwan aren’t allies and the United States doesn’t technically recognize Taiwan as a country, I think the defense partnership between the United States and Taiwan is much, much stronger,” said Beckley. “It has deeper historical roots than anything the United States has with Ukraine.”

Heath agreed: “There is a much higher likelihood that the U.S. military would intervene in a conflict between China and Taiwan.”

Still, when it comes to the U.S. commitment, the invasion of Ukraine worries many in Taiwan.

When President Joe Biden explained why the U.S. would not send troops to Ukraine, he said, “That’s a world war, when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another.” It’s a statement that could easily apply to a U.S. conflict with China as well. Chinese nationalists on the mainland have made a similar point. “The performance of the U.S. in Ukraine should remind ‘Taiwan independence’ advocates: You cannot rely on Washington,” an article in the state paper Global Times stated.

5. Good news: The U.S. and its allies are likely to help in other ways

Despite NATO’s decision not to intervene militarily in Ukraine, Taiwanese may be heartened by the range and scope of support for Ukraine — from weapons shipments to punishing sanctions against Russia. For President Xi Jinping, that show of unity is a potential problem.

“For China, it’s very concerning, because it seems like the crisis is sort of rallying the United States and its allies and causing them to band together,” said Beckley. “It kind of lays down that DNA for a future crisis.”

At the U.N. General Assembly, only five countries voted against condemning Russia. China abstained — refusing to join the condemnation. Having tried to elevate its standing in multilateral institutions in recent years, China will see that “there’s a real danger of isolation,” said Yun Sun, co-director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center. More important, the sweeping economic response has already had a significant impact on the Russian economy, as Grid’s Matthew Zeitlin explained. Chinese leaders will worry about a similar response should they attack Taiwan.

“One lesson the U.S. can take from the Russian experience is the power of global finance,” said Heath. “The United States and its rich industrialized allies retain a powerful grip on international finance, and this remains a potent weapon to punish offending countries.”

However, it’s worth noting that it would be harder for the U.S. and allies to impose punishing sanctions against China; unlike the Russian economy, Chinese trade, finance and business are deeply intertwined with the global economy. “That would have severe blowback on us too,” said Easton.

Will Ukraine change China’s plans?

Almost universally, military experts expected the Russian army to secure a swift victory against Ukraine. Russia’s failures to dominate Ukrainian airspace, adequately supply its forces or capture key cities have been early surprises in the war. So have the casualty counts; Western officials estimate that Russia has lost thousands of troops already.

No doubt China’s military and political leaders are taking note.

Thomas Shugart, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said the Chinese military is probably already closely studying the Ukraine war: “I’d be very surprised if there aren’t Chinese military observers, at least at the headquarters level and their attaches, observing very closely what’s happening at the tactical level with the war in Ukraine and taking their own very detailed lessons learned.”

One immediate concern in Taiwan: that the Chinese military will draw the conclusion that the time for action is now. According to a poll conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation in mid-February, more than a quarter of Taiwanese surveyed thought it was likely China would take the opportunity of the Russian invasion — and the West’s distraction — to attack.

However, several experts said it was unlikely China would make that decision. “I think China likely has concluded that the invasion was a mistake,” said Heath. “The war is already proving unaffordable to Russia, and prospects for victory look doubtful. Russia’s economy is crippled, and domestic opposition is rising. There is little in the Ukraine invasion to encourage China to attack Taiwan.”

The U.S. sent a high-level delegation of former military and security officials to Taiwan last week, bringing a message of support amid the Russian assault. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Tsai, “I do hope by being here with you, we can reassure you and your people, as well as our allies and partners in the region, that the United States stands firm behind its commitments.”

Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at China’s Renmin University, said, “The Biden administration is, just in the heyday of Russia’s war in Europe, assuring Taiwan and doubtful opinion at home and beyond that it has both capability and will to intervene vigorously in two major theaters simultaneously, with the Indo-Pacific still kept as its strategic priority.” He added, “This is also intended, I believe, to send a message of deterrence to China, which certainly takes it into account.”


Source : GRID

Imagining the Unimaginable: The U.S., China and War Over Taiwan

Joshua Keating wrote . . . . . . . . .

A war over Taiwan would likely involve the largest and most complex amphibious invasion ever mounted. Were the conflict to drag on, it might well evolve into a building-to-building, mountaintop-to-mountaintop ground war in one of the most densely populated and economically advanced countries on Earth. And that’s just in Taiwan itself.

It’s an open question whether the U.S. would come to its longtime ally Taiwan’s aid; if the United States got involved, we would see a scenario the world has managed to avoid over the 75 years since the introduction of the atomic bomb: direct exchange of fire between two nuclear-armed superpowers.

“Disabuse yourself of the notion that war with China is going to be like anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes,” said David Ochmanek, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Obama administration who is now a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation.

China’s desire to retake Taiwan goes back decades

While still far from inevitable, this nightmare scenario has never seemed more likely. Beijing has sought control of Taiwan, which it considers a wayward province, ever since 1949, when fleeing Chinese nationalist forces set up a government on the island.

China has unsuccessfully attempted military force against Taiwan before, in the 1950s and 1990s. For much of that period, Taiwan itself had a superior military to the People’s Republic, and U.S. naval dominance in the region was unquestioned.

But in recent years, the balance of power has shifted dramatically, thanks to China’s economic rise and one of the largest and fastest military buildups in history. Until a few years ago, most experts believed China had little chance of successfully taking Taiwan in the face of U.S. opposition. Now, as Ochmanek has put it, the U.S. regularly “gets its ass handed to it” in Pentagon war games simulating a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

Lately, Chinese leaders have shown signs that they are running out of patience. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said on more than one occasion that the Taiwan issue should not be “passed on from generation to generation.” More recently, he emphasized: “The historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled and will definitely be fulfilled.” Xi would undoubtedly prefer to accomplish this without war, but that seems increasingly unlikely.

Public sentiment in Taiwan is turning ever more against Beijing — around two-thirds of the country’s population now identify as “Taiwanese” rather than “Chinese,” according to one recent poll — and in 2016, Tsai Ing-wen, who ran on a platform of defending the nation’s sovereignty, was elected president. And recent crackdowns in Hong Kong have undermined Chinese assurances that Taiwan would be allowed to maintain some degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” model.

“If you’re sitting in Beijing, it’s pretty clear that anything short of direct military force is not going to be adequate,” Elbridge Colby, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Trump administration, told Grid. “In fact, the trajectory is moving exactly in the opposite direction.”

Examples of that trajectory are in plain sight. In recent months, China has shown signs it is preparing for the use of force. Starting in October, planes from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force made a record number of incursions into the area surrounding Taiwanese airspace. The PLA air force has expanded air bases at Longtian, Huian and Zhangzhou, directly across the strait from Taiwan. Taiwan’s government agencies currently face around 5 million cyberattacks per day, around half of them believed to originate in China. China has not been subtle in its rhetoric or its tactics: Satellite images have shown a scale replica of Taiwan’s presidential office building constructed in Inner Mongolia for PLA soldiers to practice raids.

None of these developments suggests that Xi has made the decision to take Taiwan by force. But Xi has described reunification with Taiwan as a core component of a larger political project called the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” (think, “make China great again”) due to be completed by the People’s Republic’s 100th anniversary in 2049. Time and again, he has publicly tied his own political fortunes to the goal.

The view from Washington

The hard line from Beijing is met regularly by a hard line in Washington. As part of a larger shift toward “great power competition” with China, both the Trump and Biden administrations have elevated Taiwan as an issue.

Technically speaking, the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. The island is part of China under a long-held formulation known as the “One China” policy, but the U.S. is also bound by law to provide aid for Taiwan’s defense. The U.S. — under Republican and Democratic administrations alike — has long been deliberately coy about what it would do if China invaded, under a policy known as “strategic ambiguity.”

President Joe Biden has, on more than one occasion, been less ambiguous, saying the U.S. has a “commitment” to come to Taiwan’s aid were the island to be attacked. The Biden team invited a delegation from Taiwan to its Summit For Democracy in December, enraging Beijing. Support for Taiwan has lately been a rare example of bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill, and delegations from both parties have traveled to Taipei in recent months. In the military realm, it was reported in October that U.S. special operations troops and Green Berets had been in Taiwan for over a year, secretly training its forces to resist potential Chinese aggression.

The outgoing U.S. Indo-Pacific commander, Adm. Phil Davidson, suggested in congressional testimony in March 2021 that China is likely to move on Taiwan “in the next six years.” Some experts feel that as U.S. support ratchets up, and because of steps Taiwan and the U.S. are taking to fortify the island’s defenses, China may want to move sooner than that. Whatever the timetable, analysts agree that the risk of miscalculation leading to conflict is great.

Prelude to attack

Analysts and former officials told Grid they envision a range of scenarios for how the first few days of a conflict over Taiwan might play out. War-gaming is always fraught with hypothetical and shifting scenarios, but several common threads emerge.

One thing the Chinese military would probably not have on its side is the element of surprise. Defense analyst Ian Easton, whose 2017 book, “The Chinese Invasion Threat,” imagines what war might look like based on leaked Chinese military documents, suggests that somewhere between 1 to 2 million combat troops would have to cross the strait if Taiwan’s defenses were at full strength. (If China already had Taiwan on the back foot by instigating a coup or assassinating its president, a smaller force might be feasible.) The 1944 Normandy invasion, by contrast, involved a landing force of some 132,000 troops.

A Chinese landing on Taiwan would “be the most complex operation in modern military history,” said Michael Beckley, a professor at Tufts University and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who studies U.S.-China competition.

China’s navy — the dramatic recent buildup notwithstanding — doesn’t have enough amphibious assault ships to transport even a fraction of that number of troops, so it’s anticipated that civilian ships, including passenger ferries and even fishing boats, would be pressed into service. The logistics alone would be staggering. Food, fuel and medicine would be stockpiled. Some of these preparations could be camouflaged as military drills, but most such movements would be obvious to the outside world, days or weeks in advance.

Before any land invasion, China would attempt to achieve dominance in the air, sea and “electromagnetic” realms. Barrages of rockets, missiles and armed drones would target the island’s air defenses — including air base runways and radar installations — in an attempt to ground the Taiwanese air force. Air and sea offensives would be launched against Taiwan’s navy, and China would almost certainly attempt to impose a naval blockade of the island. Military and political targets on Taiwan would be bombed in the early days of an offensive — likely including major government buildings in Taipei — as would the country’s power grid and fuel supplies. Perhaps most important, bombers would be used to degrade Taiwan’s coastal defenses before an invasion. According to an open-source 2015 estimate, there are roughly 40 air bases from which Chinese fighters could strike Taiwan without refueling. Even with a substantial number held back for reinforcements, as many as 800 aircraft could be dedicated to a Taiwan campaign.

Less visible — but potentially almost as damaging — Taiwan’s civilian and military infrastructure would be the target of massive cyberattacks. Taiwanese analysts have also warned that undersea cables linking Taiwan to the global internet could be cut by the PLA in the lead-up to an attack.

For China, the goal in these early days would be to sow as much chaos as possible to either soften Taiwan for invasion or, better yet from Beijing’s point of view, convince its leaders and people that it’s not worth fighting at all.

What will the U.S. do?

No question preoccupies leaders in Taipei, Beijing and Washington more than this: How will the U.S. respond?

Taiwanese military estimates suggest its forces might hold out on their own against China from two weeks to about a month. Even that may be optimistic. If the U.S. enters the fray, it becomes a much fairer fight. And it raises the most critical strategic questions for Beijing.

If Chinese leaders are certain that the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan is ironclad, their best move will be to strike first. A 2017 war game conducted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) found that a preemptive Chinese missile strike could “crater every runway … at every major U.S. air base in Japan, and destroy more than 200 aircraft on the ground.” The RAND Corporation has estimated that just 36 missiles could shut Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, to fighter traffic for four days. In 2015, the PLA unveiled an intermediate range ballistic missile that was quickly nicknamed the “Guam killer” for its potential ability to reach Andersen Air Force Base on that island. The RAND study found that if 50 of these missiles struck their targets, it could keep the base closed to large aircraft for eight days.

Of course, one act of aggression under these circumstances would almost certainly beget another — and the Chinese know this. Attacking U.S. forces, particularly forces on U.S. territory in Guam, would all but guarantee an American military response.

On the other hand, if the Chinese believe the Americans are bluffing, and that the U.S. has no real interest in a Pacific war, the better move would be to attack the island without provoking the Americans. If no Americans have been harmed, will a U.S. president really launch a war against a rival superpower, risking American lives and billions of dollars in a fight the U.S. might well lose? Polling shows Americans evenly divided — though the numbers have risen lately — as to whether they would support using U.S. troops to defend Taiwan.

But if the U.S. president does decide that defending a democratic ally and halting China’s military expansion is worth the fight, China will have lost a crucial opportunity to strike an early blow and will face a much tougher fight once the Americans show up. (Worth noting: Unlike the U.S. military, the PLA has virtually no combat experience. China has not fought a major war since an ill-fated invasion of Vietnam in 1979.)

Assuming U.S. forces are not badly damaged in an initial onslaught, the Americans have a range of options for striking China in the early days of a Taiwan invasion. It might be days before they reach the area — depending on advance intelligence and positioning — but U.S. submarines, surface ships, aircraft and cruise missiles would likely sink a significant number of China’s amphibious craft during the crossing of the strait. As of 2017, RAND estimates showed that U.S. submarines alone could destroy almost 40 percent of the Chinese amphibious fleet during a weeklong conflict, though China’s defenses in this area have improved significantly since then. If they were able to penetrate Chinese airspace, U.S. aircraft could attack those 40 Chinese air bases within range of Taiwan, though this would represent a significant escalation. Beyond conventional warfare, the U.S. and China could also carry out attacks on each other’s satellites and cyberattacks in the early days of a conflict.

A U.S. intervention hardly guarantees victory, however. The “blue” teams representing the U.S. have repeatedly lost to Chinese “red” teams in classified Air Force war games held since 2018. This is partly by design — the games are designed to highlight vulnerabilities — but they also highlight real strategic dilemmas. China will enter the conflict with a major geographic advantage: Taiwan lies only a few hundred miles from the full strength of the PLA; it’s more than 1,500 nautical miles from Guam, the closest U.S. territory.

In addition to its geographic advantages, China in 2010 became the first country in the world to announce it had operational anti-ship ballistic missiles, capable of precision strikes on U.S. ships at a range of more than 900 miles. These missiles are part of a suite of systems designed to prevent U.S. forces from entering or maneuvering within an area of combat — a concept known in military jargon as anti-access area-denial or A2/AD.

Recent U.S. defense planning has been focused on penetrating these defenses, but according to a recent Defense News report, the most promising Pentagon scenario for repelling an invasion of Taiwan relies on air defense technology that doesn’t exist yet.

The crossing

The most dangerous part of any invasion from the Chinese perspective would be the actual crossing of the 100-mile strait. “I certainly wouldn’t want to be in one of those Chinese transport crafts, puttering across the Taiwan Strait for eight hours,” Tufts University’s Beckley told Grid. While the Chinese would pound Taiwan’s coastal defenses during the initial air assault, they would be unlikely to eliminate them. Several analysts noted that the vaunted U.S. Air Force had a difficult time eliminating Iraqi and Serbian mobile missile batteries during the Gulf and Kosovo wars; Taiwan’s military is far more advanced.

During this period, the China-Taiwan air war would continue to be intense. “There’s no real way to not be vulnerable during the actual amphibious invasion,” Cristina Garafola, who researches the Chinese military at RAND, told Grid. “You’re basically sitting ducks for anti-ship cruise missiles or Taiwanese aircraft. So I think the [PLA air force] and the PLA navy’s aviation branch would have a key role in making sure those ships made it across to Taiwan with as few casualties and as little damage as possible.”

When China’s ships actually land on Taiwan’s beaches, they’re likely to be met with mines, nets and traps along the shoreline. In one of the more vivid sections of his book, Easton cites PLA military documents that describe Taiwanese plans to create “sea walls of fire” by pumping oil into the shallows and lighting it aflame. (These reports are unconfirmed.)

China’s best bet for moving troops and supplies onto the island will be to seize a port. That means the Taiwanese may have to take the drastic step of destroying their own ports to prevent a landing.

“[The Chinese] have to have that combo of sufficient combat power ashore plus air superiority,” said Chris Dougherty, a senior fellow at CNAS, who has designed numerous Taiwan war simulations. “In almost all of our war-games, there’s a big scramble to see if Taiwan can destroy their ports and their airports fast enough.”

There’s precedent for such operations — the retreating Germans left the port of Cherbourg in ruins to deny the allies a base of operations after D-Day — but the scale and implications of the task should not be downplayed: Taiwan’s largest port, Kaohsiung, is among the 15 largest in the world, handling a larger annual volume of shipping than the Port of Los Angeles.

The land war

Most experts agree that a short, sharp war offers China’s best bet for victory. “If you read Chinese military writings, they talk about essentially the equivalent of ‘shock and awe,’” Beckley said. “I think the Chinese have a reasonable expectation that if they just hit Taiwan and the U.S. hard enough in the face, that they will be paper tigers and stand down.” If China can cripple Taiwan’s resistance quickly, the thinking goes, the international community will be hard pressed to do much about it. Defense scholars refer to this is as a fait accompli strategy, best demonstrated in recent years by Russia’s rapid and almost uncontested annexation of Crimea in 2014.

As Eric Heginbotham, a researcher on Asian security issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, notes, the longer a conflict drags on, the tougher it becomes from Beijing’s perspective: “Once you start lethal action, then Taiwan begins to mobilize its reserves. And as long as that ground campaign is going on, your fleet has to be anchored off the coast where it is vulnerable. Any chance for success really does count on a quick, relatively quick occupation.”

Taiwan has a standing army of around 190,000, but hundreds of thousands more troops could be pressed into service from its reserves. That’s still not many compared with the largest military on the planet, but the Taiwanese would have the advantage of fighting on their turf, in mountainous terrain that could be a nightmare for occupiers.

Polls suggest the island’s population is overwhelmingly willing to take up arms, but that could change quickly if defenses were being overwhelmed or if U.S. support looked iffy. “On our side, the will is there. But it’s that’s not enough. You need it to be trained and prepared ahead of the contingencies,” said Enoch Wu, a former Taiwanese special forces soldier turned politician who has founded an organization advocating greater preparedness for war among average citizens.

Meanwhile, a drawn-out conflict would give Taiwan’s allies — the U.S. but also potentially Japan or Australia — more time to organize support and chip away at China’s air superiority. “Over time, we will have superior aircraft, superior pilots,” Ochmanek said. “I say to people, you can’t win this war in a week, but you can lose it in a week.”

So what happens if — in war-game parlance — the “blue” team stands up, Taiwan mobilizes its reserves, and the U.S. and other allies provide air and naval support? In all likelihood, China still would land a large number of troops on the island, but after that many of the scenarios and planning documents grow vague. It’s been decades since the world has seen mechanized ground combat in urban areas between two heavily industrialized powers, said MIT’s Heginbotham: “Honestly, I think it looks a lot like it always has or has for the last 100 years — which is bloody and slow.”

CNAS’s Dougherty said that war games that get to the ground war stage often settle into a “kind of stalemate” in which the Chinese have control of the air but the Taiwanese are dug in with armor and artillery. “The Chinese can make some headway when they have extra air superiority, when we don’t have fighters up. But then, every 12 to 18 hours, we get a big sortie of bombers, and they get pushed back again. And it kind of goes back and forth like this over the course of days and days and days.”

No refuge for civilians

Less discussed in the war games and white papers is the potential impact on Taiwan’s civilian population. Beyond the fighting itself, the damage could prove catastrophic. Taiwan imports much of its food, fuel and medicine, and an extended blockade could have devastating humanitarian consequences.

In his book, Easton notes that civilian casualties are hardly mentioned in the PLA documents he studied. He told Grid that on a recent trip to Taiwan, he couldn’t help but think about which of the places he was visiting would be targeted in the event of war: “When you do this kind of research, it changes the way you look at the world. The whole country is going to be a war zone.”

With a population of 23.5 million in an area a bit bigger than Maryland, Taiwan is one of the densest countries on Earth and is particularly so along its west coast, where Taiwan’s main military installations are located and where the fighting is likely to be most intense.

“Our military bases are in our cities,” Wu told Grid. “Our communications networks, our infrastructure, our power plants, those are all strategic targets. All those nodes are in urban environments. We all recognize that if conflict breaks out, there are no safe zones.”

The nuclear question

To some of the experts, these grim scenarios are actually good news, in that China is unlikely to embark on a mission that has a good chance of turning into a gruesome stalemate. The problem, given the importance of reunification as a goal for the Chinese state, is the difficulty of getting Beijing to back down.

“How many times does Xi Jinping have to say that the destiny of China is to reunite Taiwan with the mainland before people are convinced that he really means it?” Ochmanek asked. “Once they commit to this course of action, they have a lot riding on it.”

Meanwhile, looming over any discussion of escalation is the fact that both the U.S. and China have nuclear arsenals. (China’s is much smaller but catching up.) In his new book, “The Strategy of Denial,” which argues the U.S. needs to be doing more to deter a Chinese “fait accompli” attack on Taiwan, Colby, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense, argues that any war between the U.S. and China would likely be limited in critical ways, because the incentives to avoid massive nuclear exchange are too great for both sides. He argues this isn’t necessarily a good thing; you might be more likely to start a war if you believe you can keep it under control.

Beckley is skeptical that war would remain limited. He worries about a scenario in which “both sides assume the other side would never go nuclear. And so, it’s OK to just hit them as hard as you want with conventional forces, because there’s a fire break between that the nuclear realm.”

Colby accepts that the risk of nuclear escalation is real but said it shouldn’t deter the U.S. from defending Taiwan. “If we are completely convinced that a limited war is impossible, and the Chinese believe that it is possible, then they will checkmate us every time,” he said. “At some point, we have to be willing to fight a war under the nuclear shadow. My view is the best way to avoid testing that proposition, which I absolutely don’t want to do, is to be visibly prepared for it.”

For some U.S. analysts and policymakers, the risks to Taiwan (and in a nuclear scenario, the risks to everywhere else) are an argument for bolstering support for the island, making an invasion seem as unappealing a prospect as possible to Beijing. For others, the risks involved in defending Taiwan are simply too great, and the U.S. should cut the island loose from its strategic priorities. Either way, it’s best for all involved if these scenarios remain theoretical.

Endgame

In the end, these scenarios are influenced — in Beijing and Washington both — by politics and long-standing principles. For China, it’s that article of faith about Taiwan, and “One China,” which has recently been married to a position of geopolitical and military strength. For the U.S., it’s the defense of an ally and an increasingly vigilant stand against China and its regional ambitions. Neither side wants war. Neither side has shown any interest in standing down. The war-gamers are still in business.


Source : GRID

The Leader Who’s Standing Up to China

Mari Saito, Yimou and David Lague wrote . . . . . . . . .

In January 2020, on the eve of her re-election victory, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen stood before a crowd of supporters and delivered a stark warning about China: Beware.

It was a major departure from speeches earlier in her career. Tsai had a reputation for being wooden on the stump. This time was different.

Tsai campaigned passionately in the contest, exploiting heightened fears about life under Chinese rule by zeroing in on the pro-democracy protests that shook Hong Kong in 2019. Beijing was pressuring Taiwan to accept the same formula of limited autonomy – “one country, two systems” – it had pledged for Hong Kong. Tsai declared that China was reneging in Hong Kong and Taiwan must not give in.

“With their lives, blood and tears, the young people in Hong Kong have demonstrated for us that one country, two systems is not feasible,” Tsai said. Supporters roared in approval. Some waved the black-and-white flags carried by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “Tomorrow, we will let everyone see that Taiwan can safeguard this fortress of democracy for the world.”

It was the culmination of a remarkable transformation for Tsai. A close adviser said she had lost her first presidential run, in 2012, in part because she shied away from talking about the standoff with China, which views Taiwan as its own. She won her second term by a landslide, capitalizing on Taiwan’s fast-growing national identity, after years spent learning from earlier setbacks.

With Tsai now well into her second term, fears in Taiwan about an increasingly belligerent China dominate her presidency. Tsai leads an island of 23.5 million people caught in the middle of a battle for dominance between the United States and a more assertive China under President Xi Jinping. Xi, who sees unification with Taiwan as a fundamental requirement to restoring China to its traditional status as a great power, has repeatedly threatened to bring the island to heel, if necessary by force.

Just as they have divergent views on the future of Taiwan, Tsai and Xi, born just a few years apart, could not be more different. Tsai, fluent in English and educated at elite Western institutions, uses social media to connect with supporters. Xi, son of a famous revolutionary and a product of China’s vast party bureaucracy, appears only at tightly scripted events.

Under Tsai, Taiwan has enjoyed a surge of international backing, with key U.S. allies openly acknowledging the island’s strategic importance. Tsai has hosted several high-level U.S. officials to the island in recent years, while Taiwan retains broad support from American lawmakers, making the island one of the few areas where there is bipartisan agreement in Washington. The opposition KMT, however, says cross-strait relations have deteriorated during Tsai’s presidency.

Tsai declined to comment for this profile. The Chinese government didn’t respond to questions from Reuters.

This article traces pivotal moments in Tsai’s rise as a politician now playing a lead role in one of the world’s great geopolitical dramas. It draws on interviews with diplomats, advisers, activists and other long-time observers of Taiwan’s leader, as well as Tsai’s autobiography.

[ . . . . . . ]

Read more at Reuters . . . . .

Taiwan Export Orders Surge to Record Despite China Energy Woes

Betty Hou and Samson Ellis wrote . . . . . . . . .

Global demand for products made by Taiwanese companies defied regional headwinds and predictions of a slowdown as export orders accelerated to a record last month.

Export orders grew 25.7% in September to an all-time high of $62.9 billion, Taiwan’s economics ministry said in a statement Wednesday. Economists had forecast growth to slow to 17%, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

While the streak of robust double-digit growth may ease off in the final quarter of the year, officials still expect full-year expansion to come in above 20%. Holiday-season spending in the U.S. and Europe and the release of new consumer electronics would bolster numbers toward the year-end, Huang Yu-lin, director of the ministry’s statistics department, said at a briefing in Taipei.

The continued growth comes despite several headwinds for producers in the region. Power shortages in China forced factories to curb or halt output in September, with the tight energy supply expected to continue through the rest of the year. Despite Beijing’s efforts to increase output from its coal mines, limits on electricity supply to industry could last through the winter months, especially if power is reserved to heat homes.

Apple Inc. is also likely to cut its iPhone 13 production targets for this year by more than 10% due to a shortage of semiconductors, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Chinese plants run by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. are the main assemblers of Apple’s flagship smartphone.

Almost a third of the orders were from U.S. companies, followed by Chinese and Hong Kong firms. Orders from Europe surged 53% from a year ago to $13.5 billion.


Source : BNN Bloomberg

Transportation Infrastructure Linking Mainland, Taiwan Planned

Zhang Yi wrote . . . . . . . . .

The Chinese mainland is planning infrastructure to connect Fujian province to Taiwan, a mainland spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson with the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said cross-Straits transportation infrastructure meets the need for deeper integrated development across the Taiwan Straits and serves the fundamental interests of people on both sides.

The construction of a branch line from Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian, to Taipei in Taiwan has been planned out in a guideline on developing a comprehensive transport network that was jointly released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, Zhu said.

Fujian province has completed preliminary technical plans for bridges connecting the coastal area of Fujian with Taiwan’s Kinmen and Matsu islands, she said.

The Pingtan Haixia Rail-Road Bridge, connecting the mainland with Pingtan, an island county in Fujian province, has already opened to traffic, linking it to the national railway network, she added.

Pingtan, which lies 126 kilometers from Hsinchu in Taiwan, is the largest island in Fujian province, and is also the closest mainland location to the main island of Taiwan.

Zhu said the establishment of a more convenient and unobstructed transportation network spanning the Straits will provide better service for the benefit of compatriots on both sides.

The Ministry of Natural Resources said recently that it will work with relevant departments and Fujian province to study the integration of major transportation and infrastructure development across the Taiwan Straits into relevant national planning.


Source : China Daily

Anyone Who’d Support Going To War Over Taiwan Is A Crazy Idiot

Caitlin Johnstone wrote . . . . . . . . .

Taiwan has been in the news a lot lately, and it’s really bringing out the crazy in people.
The mass media have been falsely reporting that China has been encroaching on Taiwan’s “air defense zone”, which gets stretched into the even more ludicrous claim that China “sent warplanes flying over Taiwan”. In reality Chinese planes simply entered an arbitrarily designated area hundreds of miles from Taiwan’s coast it calls its “Air Defence Identification Zone”, which has no legally recognized existence and contains a significant portion of China’s mainland. This is likely a response to the way the US and its allies have been constantly sailing war ships into disputed waters to threaten Beijing.

As Moon of Alabama reports, US warmongers inflamed this non-controversy even further by feeding a story to the press about the already public information that there are American troops in Taiwan training the military there, citing “concern” about the danger posed by China.

Now headlines are blaring about President Tsai Ing-wen responding to this non-event with the announcement that Taiwan will “do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life.” Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott just visited Taipei to advocate that “democracies stand shoulder to shoulder” with Taiwan against China. The CIA has announced the creation of a new spy center that will focus solely on China, which CIA Director William Burns says will “further strengthen our collective work on the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century: an increasingly adversarial Chinese government”.

A recent poll says that now more than half of Americans would support sending US troops to defend Taiwan from an invasion by the mainland, plainly the result of the aggressive propaganda campaign that has greatly escalated public hysteria about China. In Australia the mass media are cranking out unbelievably insane 60 Minutes episodes ridiculously pushing the idea that China may attack Australia and that Australians should be willing to go to war to protect Taiwan. I’ve been having many disturbing interactions with people online who emphatically support the idea of the US and its allies going to war with China over Taiwanese independence.

This is clearly nuts, and anyone who buys into this line of thinking is a brainwashed fool.

This isn’t some kind of complicated anti-imperialist issue, and it has nothing to do with which side you take in the debate over what government Taiwan belongs under. The US and its allies engaging in a full-scale war with nuclear-armed China over Taiwan is a prospect that should be vehemently opposed out of simple, garden variety self-preservation.
Obviously if Beijing decides to launch a military assault on Taiwan in its bid to reunify China that would be a terrible thing which would cause a lot of suffering. I don’t think that will happen unless western powers push Taipei into declaring independence or otherwise upset the delicate diplomacy dance in some major way, but if it does happen under any circumstances that would be awful.

But Taiwanese independence is not worth fighting a world war that could kill millions, and potentially billions if things go nuclear. This should be extremely obvious to everyone.

War proponents will reference Hitler, as they literally always do whenever there’s talk of war against someone the United States doesn’t like, arguing that China taking Taiwan would be like the Nazis invading Poland after which they’ll just keep invading and conquering until they are stopped. But there’s no evidence that China has any interest in invading Japan, much less Australia, still less everyone else, or that it has any ambitions on the world stage beyond reunification and securing its own economic and security interests.

The idea that China wants to take over a bunch of foreign lands, make you live under communism and give you a social credit score is the same kind of foam-brained bigoted othering which told previous generations that Black men want to take over your neighborhood so they can have sex with your wives. It’s the sort of belief that can only find purchase in an emotionally primitive mind that lacks the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand that not everyone wants what you have.

The jarring amount of pushback I’ve been getting for my very sane and moderate position that we should not be willing to start World War Three between nuclear powers over Taiwanese independence makes it abundantly clear that many people don’t truly understand that starting a war means you have to actually send actual human beings to go fight that war. All the big brave warrior men bloviating about the need to stand up to China know they’ll never find themselves on the front line of that conflict because they’re too old, but they’ll happily send my kids and the kids of countless of other mothers to go and fight in it. It’s like a video game or a movie to them.

Propaganda has made us so compartmentalized and detached from the realities of the horrors of war. If people could really see what war is and what it does, truly grok deep down in their guts how their own governments are inflicting those horrors on people right now, they’d fall to their knees in anguish and never again advocate for such things. No sane person would support a war of this scale if they truly understood what it would mean.


Source : Caitlin Johnstone

Joe Biden’s Taiwan Policy Is Now A Total Disaster

Gordon Chang wrote . . . . . . . . .

“He is just too old and likes to bluff, doesn’t know what he is talking about,” tweeted China Daily’s Chen Weihua on Friday, referring to President Joe Biden.

On Thursday, Biden told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he would defend Taiwan. “Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” the President said, responding to a question about what the U.S. would do if China attacked the island republic.

Chen’s dismissive comment confirms that America’s deterrence of China is eroding fast.

“Biden has been anything but clear,” ABC News wrote about the President’s intentions toward Taiwan. On the contrary, he has been crystal clear, on a number of occasions.

Biden’s comment to Cooper was not a one-off. In August, he told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that the U.S. would defend NATO partners, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

If there is anything unclear, it is the situation after the clarifications from Biden administration officials: Press Secretary Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson Ned Price, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. All of them walked back Biden’s statement to CNN.

“Well, there has been no shift,” Psaki told reporters on Friday. “The President was not announcing any change in our policy nor has he made a decision to change our policy. There is no change in our policy.”

In fact, there was a change. Biden’s definitive statement was a stark departure from America’s decades-old policy of “strategic ambiguity,” the policy of telling neither Beijing nor Taipei what the U.S. would do in the case of imminent conflict.

There are now two causes for concern. First, Biden, as Commander-in-Chief, makes foreign policy. The Constitution does not give that power to Psaki, Price, or Austin. Beijing may wonder—as should Americans and others—if Biden is still in charge.

Second, the instant clarifications undermine deterrence. Biden’s statement was clear and unambiguous, a warning to Beijing. The clarifications, on the other hand, tell China the United States is not committing itself to defend Taiwan.

The walk-back statements could lead Beijing to believe there are disagreements inside the Biden administration and in a crisis, some officials would try to override the President to block an American defense of Taiwan.

In short, Chen Weihua’s insulting comments look close to the mark.

Deterrence has just had a bad day. And so has the U.S. Constitution.


Source : 1945