Is the US ready to go to war with China over Taiwan?

MOSCOW, 15 Oct 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.

The new Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, who was elected to this post on October 4, 2021, immediately outlined his anti-Chinese position at his first press conference. He made a statement saying that he welcomes Taiwan’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP).

At the same time, Fumio Kishida called the prospects of the People’s Republic of China joining the partnership vague, because allegedly China does not meet the free trade standards required by the CPTPP in terms of evaluating state-owned enterprises and protecting intellectual property. It should be noted that Taiwan’s application to join the CPTPP was submitted a week after the filing of the China’s application, which, of course, is not coincidental.

From October 6 to 10, 2021, a delegation of French senators headed by Alain Richard visited Taiwan. Alain Richard in the past served as the Minister of Defence of France and is the chairman of the friendship group of the French Senate with Taiwan. During the visit, the senators met with the President of the Chinese Republic (Taiwan) Tsai Ing-wen, Prime Minister Su Zheng-chan, Speaker of the Legislative Yu Shyi-kun, Head of the Control Chen Chu and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Republic Joseph Wu.

On October 7, 2021, the Wall Street Journal reported the following: “A unit of US special operations forces and a contingent of Marines are secretly operating in Taiwan to train armed forces there, which is part of efforts to strengthen the island’s defence capability, as concerns about potential Chinese aggression grow.

According to officials, about two dozen soldiers of the US special operations and support forces are training small units of Taiwan’s ground forces. U.S. Marines work with local naval forces, conducting training on small vessels. American troops have been operating in Taiwan for at least a year.”

The Wall Street Journal clarified that this deployment is rotational: troops operate on a variable schedule. According to US officials, Taiwan should invest more in its defence despite the fact that the United States has sold billions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment to the island in recent years.

It should be noted that Beijing has always clearly stated its position: there is only one China in the world – the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan is an integral part of Chinese territory, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing the whole of China.

It is quite obvious that two parts of one state cannot be members of the same international organisation, in this case the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP), as this creates a dangerous political precedent. Only the People’s Republic of China can be a member of the CPTPP.

French senators have an official status and must pursue the official French policy. The Government of the French Republic officially recognises the “one China” policy. Accordingly, it is unacceptable to conduct official exchanges in any form with the authorities of Taiwan.

The United States, officially recognising the “one China” policy, has deployed units of its special operations forces and marines on the island of Taiwan. Such an action is possible only with the permission of the official authorities of the People’s Republic of China, since Taiwan is part of the PRC according to the “one China” policy.

It is obvious that the Chinese authorities are extremely unhappy. The Chinese newspaper Global Times, which belongs to the official print publication of the Communist Party of China “People’s Daily”, published a devastating article about the presence of a military contingent in Taiwan:

“The US is getting on the nerves of the mainland by any means. This is their consistent tactic. China must respond to this provocation so that both Taiwan and Washington fully realise the consequences of their collusion. Otherwise, at the next stage, the US military will appear in Taiwan officially and in much larger numbers to form a garrison there. We must make them understand that the consequences for them will be regrettable if they continue to provoke war.”

Thus, the collective West, under the leadership of the United States, is pursuing a gradual policy of Taiwanese sovereignty, while officially adhering to the principle of “one China”. However, this situation cannot last forever, and sooner or later the United States and its allies will come to the red line. And then the probability of a Chinese military operation against the island will become extremely high.

In this case, given the apparent disparity of the military capabilities of Taiwan and China, the next question will arise – how far is the United States willing to go to protect Taiwan? In simple words, is the US ready to start a war with China over Taiwan?

Emma Ashford, senior researcher at the New American Initiative for Interaction at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security of the Atlantic Council, answered this question most accurately during a discussion on the pages of the American magazine Foreign Policy. Let’s quote it in full.

“Taiwans strategic significance to the United States is not even remotely enough to risk a war with China. There are countries in Asia—Japan and South Korea, for example—that are important enough for the United States to commit to defend. But in the case of Taiwan, the imbalance in interests and capabilities is just too high. China views Taiwan as a historic part of China; reunification has been a core demand of the CCP government for its whole existence. Taiwan is 100 miles offshore the Chinese mainland. Meanwhile, its 7,000 miles away from the United States, whose population is at best ambivalent about defending it. So, no, the United States shouldnt commit to going to war to defend Taiwan.”

“Taiwan is far, far more important and significant to China than it is to the United States. And Chinas citizens feel strongly about Taiwan, while defending Taiwan isnt particularly popular among Americans. In short, its going to be extremely difficult for the U.S. government to fight a war that isnt particularly popular or strategically important against a state where it is popular and important. Thats why I say we have an imbalance of interests.”

In addition to what Emma Ashford said, it can be added that the United States will not go to war for Taiwan with a nuclear power in the person of China, as the risks of a transition to an exchange of nuclear strikes between countries are too great. Moreover, in the near future, Beijing intends to achieve strategic nuclear parity with the United States. And this can happen in 3-5 years or even in 2-3 years. Therefore, any military conflict with China for the United States can turn into an all-out nuclear war of destruction.

Thus, the risk of a major war for the United States clearly outweighs the damage to their reputation as a reliable ally. Therefore, the United States will not go to war with China over Taiwan. This position of the United States is eloquently confirmed by the recent example of Afghanistan. Washington abandoned this country to its fate, although it had the official status of the main US ally outside NATO.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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