When US President Joe Biden’s national security team meets their Chinese counterparts at a high-stakes summit in Alaska on Thursday, one of the most urgent issues they will tackle is Beijing’s growing threat to Taipei, according to Politico.
Top US military brass are warning with increasing urgency that China could in the next few years invade Taiwan given China’s rapid military build-up, and recent indications that Taiwan could unilaterally declare its independence from the mainland.
Such an invasion would be an explosive event that could throw the whole region into chaos and potentially culminate in a shooting war between China and the US, which is treaty-bound to help Taiwan defend itself against Beijing.
“War over Taiwan would be unthinkable,” said Eric Sayers, of the American Enterprise Institute. “A major challenge Washington faces is that Taiwan has been viewed by many as a 2035 planning problem, but China’s military capabilities have now matured to such a degree that this is no longer a dilemma we can afford to push off.”
How to prevent that scenario, though, is a question that has confounded previous administrations, as China each year appears to move one step closer to moving on Taiwan.
The new Biden team must signal its willingness to stand up for Taiwan and help ensure the island can defend itself, but without further spooking Beijing.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are in Japan for the first stop on a joint visit to Asia, where countering China’s rise will be at the top of the agenda.
The two will travel next to South Korea, before Austin heads to India and Blinken to Alaska.
Admiral Phil Davidson, head of US forces in the Pacific, warned Congress last week that China could invade Taiwan by 2027 – a significant acceleration compared to previous estimates of 2035.
Meanwhile, officials are increasingly concerned that Taipei may force Beijing into action by unilaterally declaring its independence, particularly after Taiwan’s president was reelected in a landslide last year. Polling data consistently shows the Taiwanese people want a separate identity that is not Chinese.
Top US and Japanese officials are expected to send a strong message to their Chinese counterparts over Beijing’s coercive measures in the region during the Alaska summit.
As China pressures Taiwan on both the military and economic fronts, the US cannot afford to do nothing, says Politico.