In-Depth

by Malcolm Riddell

The most dangerous place on Earth
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'Don't Help China By Hyping Risk Of War Over Taiwan'

NPR

CHINADebate

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Richard Bush | Brookings (retired)
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Bonnie Glaser | German Marshall Fund in America & Ryan Hass | Brookings Institution

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May 7, 2021
'Don't Help China By Hyping Risk Of War Over Taiwan'
'Don't Help China By Hyping Risk Of War Over Taiwan'
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"Once ripe, the melon will drop from its stem."

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Richard Bush | Brookings (retired)

The most dangerous place on Earth

4

BIG IDEA | ‘China is marshaling its full range of capabilities to intensify pressure on Taiwan below the threshold of conflict.’
‘Beijing's goal is to constantly remind Taiwan's people of its growing power, induce pessimism about Taiwan's future, deepen splits within the island's political system and show that outside powers are impotent to counter its flexes.'
‘Its approach is guided by the Chinese aphorism, "Once ripe, the melon will drop from its stem [瓜熟蒂落]," ’
‘This strategy may require more time than war, but it would come at less cost and risk to Beijing.’

‘A growing chorus of officials and experts in the United States has been raising alarm about the risk of a Chinese attack against Taiwan.’

‘As troubling as the trendlines of Chinese behavior are, it would be a mistake to infer that they represent a prelude to an unalterable catastrophe.’

  • ‘China's top priority now and in the foreseeable future is to deter Taiwan independence rather than compel unification.’
  • ‘Beijing remains confident in its capacity to achieve this near-term objective, even as it sets the groundwork for its long-term goal of unification.’
  • ‘Indeed, based on polling on attitudes regarding defense, we believe the people of Taiwan already are sober to the risks of pursuing independence.’

‘Beijing has its own incentives to avoid war, so China has chosen a different path.’

  • ‘China is marshaling its full range of capabilities to intensify pressure on Taiwan below the threshold of conflict.’

‘In recent years, Beijing has unveiled a broad range of tools to deter Taiwan's independence and gradually weaken the will of the people of Taiwan to resist integration with the mainland.’

  • ‘People's Liberation Army forces now operate all around Taiwan. They also have been conducting highly publicized amphibious assault exercises and air penetrations of Taiwan's air defense identification zone at the highest frequency in nearly 25 years.’
  • ‘China has targeted Taiwan economically, sought to induce a brain drain of Taiwan's top engineers to the mainland, isolated Taiwan on the world stage, fomented social divisions inside Taiwan, launched cyberattacks and undertaken displays of military force.’

‘Beijing's goal is to constantly remind Taiwan's people of its growing power, induce pessimism about Taiwan's future, deepen splits within the island's political system and show that outside powers are impotent to counter its flexes.’

  • ‘Its approach is guided by the Chinese aphorism, "Once ripe, the melon will drop from its stem [瓜熟蒂落]." ’
  • ‘This strategy may require more time than war, but it would come at less cost and risk to Beijing.’

‘Coercion without violence is not just a threat; it's an everyday reality.’

  • ‘China does pose a kinetic threat to Taiwan, and Taiwan and the United States must strengthen their capacity to deter war.’

‘But the proximate threat is not just military, it's also psychological.’

  • ‘Hyping the threat that China poses to Taiwan does Beijing's work for it.’
  • ‘Taiwan's people need reasons for confidence in their own future, not just reminders of their vulnerabilities.’
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