The danger of armed confrontation over Taiwan is growing, raising the spectre of a direct conflict between China and the U.S. that would have severe global repercussions. Managing this risk will require the parties to rebuild trust by shoring up decades-old understandings.
China continued military activity around island as presidents Biden and Xi discussed Taiwan face-to-face, while Beijing issued warning ahead of Taiwan’s Jan 2024 general elections.
Chinese military continued operations around island. As of 28 Nov, Taiwan spotted 324 Chinese military aircraft around island, of which at least 98 crossed unofficial “median line” or were detected in Taiwan’s de facto air defence identification zone. Taiwan reported 171 sightings of Chinese navy vessels in surrounding waters. China’s Shandong aircraft carrier group conducted exercises southeast of Taiwan and 8 Nov traversed Taiwan Strait. U.S. navy destroyer USS Rafael Peralta and Royal Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa 1 Nov transited Taiwan Strait. Australian warship HMAS Toowomba 23 Nov passed Taiwan Strait.
U.S. and Chinese leaders held in-person meeting and discussed Taiwan. During meeting between U.S. President Biden and China’s President Xi on sidelines of APEC summit in U.S. city San Francisco, Xi 15 Nov stated that Taiwan is “most important and sensitive issue” in U.S.-China relations and called for Washington to stop arming Taiwan and support China’s peaceful unification, while Biden described talks as constructive and effective, and reiterated “one China” policy remained unchanged. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin 17 Nov said U.S. will continue to develop military ties with Taiwan amid resumed dialogue with China. Earlier, G7 FMs meeting in Japanese capital Tokyo 8 Nov concluded with joint statement reaffirming importance of peace and stability in Taiwan Strait and supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations.
China warned Taiwan’s presidential candidates of consequences of independence. Ahead of Jan presidential and legislative polls, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 15 Nov warned that “Taiwan independence” means war, adding that Beijing sees combination of incumbent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s candidate Lai Ching-te and running mate Hsiao Bi-Khim – Taiwan’s de facto representative to U.S. – as “independence plus independence”. Taiwanese premier Chen Chien-jen 14 Nov claimed security agencies had detected China’s interference in upcoming elections. Attempts by Taiwan opposition parties Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) to run on joint ticket fell apart. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s President Tsai 30 Nov assessed Chinese invasion was unlikely as Beijing is overwhelmed with internal challenges.
The Xi-Biden meeting provides an … opportunity for the two leaders to convey to each other that neither seeks to overturn the status quo or kinetic conflict.
Beijing will have to publicly condemn [Taiwan President] Tsai’s visit to the US, their ultimate response will depend on what Tsai says and who she meets with on her trip.
At the moment, we think that China has not fully developed the capability to guarantee a sure victory if it chooses to launch a military option on Taiwan.
[Western politicians] increasingly view a visit to Taiwan as an opportunity to signal their anti-China bona fides for domestic political reasons.
In this video, Amanda Hsiao explains what is at stake in the dynamic between China, the U.S. and Taiwan and what steps can be taken to reduce pressure in the region.
In this video, Crisis Group’s Giustra Fellow for China Ivy Kwek talks about her work monitoring tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
A visit by Taiwan’s leader to the U.S. brought swift condemnation from China, which stepped up its military activities in the strait separating the mainland from the island. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Amanda Hsiao looks at what these events might portend.
No matter what immediate tit-for-tat reactions there are to the visit, the troubling long-term implication points to the urgent need for the Biden administration and Congress to better coordinate their handling of the Taiwan issue.
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is planning a visit to Taiwan in early August. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Amanda Hsiao identifies steps the U.S. and China can take to keep frictions minimal should her trip proceed.
The number of Chinese military flights near Taiwan has soared in recent days. In this Q&A, our expert Amanda Hsiao says Beijing is not only demonstrating its objections to deepening U.S.-Taiwan ties, but also warning the broader international community against getting closer to Taiwan.
After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved.
Each side’s most preferred solution for resolving the continuing Taiwan Strait issue – in the case of Taipei, widely recognised de jure independence; and in the case of Beijing, reunification of China on the same ‘one country, two systems’ basis as Hong Kong – are both non-starters.
Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.