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 maintained military activity around Taiwan, while Taiwan President Tsai struck conciliatory tone as she entered final months of presidency.
Chinese jets and navy vessels continued operations around island. As of 29 Oct, Taiwan spotted 299 Chinese military aircraft around Taiwan, of which at least 100 either crossed unofficial “median line” or were detected in Taiwan’s de facto air defence identification zone; 23 aircraft 26 Oct crossed median line while China aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through Bashi Channel into Western Pacific. Taiwan reported 152 sightings of Chinese navy vessels in surrounding waters. U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon 12 Oct transited Taiwan Strait in international airspace.
Tsai urged “peaceful coexistence”, Beijing reiterated preconditions for talks. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen 10 Oct urged “peaceful coexistence” with island and called on Beijing to develop a “mutually acceptable foundation” for interactions; she stressed that her administration had maintained cross-strait status quo since 2016, which was critical to ensuring peace. In response, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that acceptance of the “1992 consensus” is precondition for both sides to engage in political dialogue. After opposition party Kuomintang (KMT)’s vice chairman Andrew Hsia late Sept said that KMT should not be labelled as “pro-China party” nor “unification party”, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 11 Oct responded that remarks “undermine mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait”.
In other important developments. Speaking in New York city during his U.S. visit, former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou 16 Oct said that U.S. should play role of peacemaker and broker talks between Taiwan and China; in response, Taiwan’s FM Joseph Wu slammed comments as having undermined Taiwan’s diplomacy. Former Australian PM Scott Morrison 11-12 Oct visited Taiwan to participate in govt-sponsored Yushan forum, in which he expressed his personal support for Taiwan to participate in international organisations, including “Quad” grouping of U.S., India, Japan and Australia, and called for “modernisation” of Australia’s “one China” policy.
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.
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