In-Depth

'Would China really invade Taiwan?'

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Ian Bremmer | Eurasia Group
'Would China really invade Taiwan?'
'Would China really invade Taiwan?'
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The most dangerous place on Earth

2

May 6, 2021
BIG IDEA | ‘Is Taiwan really "the most dangerous place on earth?" No. Or at least, not right now.’

‘The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island.’

‘Of all the issues, the most volatile and explosive could well be Taiwan. And yes, there is a lot to be concerned about.'

  • 'But The Economist doesn't have it quite right.’

‘First, a central point in the magazine's argument is that a Chinese attack on Taiwan would have global economic repercussions, including disrupting the world's most important semiconductor manufacturer, TSMC, that's Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.’

  • ‘That company makes more than half of all of the chips outsourced by all foreign companies globally.’
  • ‘A quote from the piece: "Were production at TSMC to stop, so would the global electronics industry, at incalculable cost." ’

‘And yes, war would be devastating for many reasons, including the interruption of TSMC's operations. But that's precisely why it's not going to happen.’

  • ‘China relies on a functional TSMC as much as the United States does for advanced semiconductors.’
  • ‘In fact, China right now is way behind the US in this particular aspect, though not all, of the technology battle.’
  • ‘Taiwan is a critical player in the great decoupling battle and an attack would seriously set back China's own tech ambitions.’

‘The article also states that "China would overnight become the dominant power in Asia" if China attacked Taiwan and the United States didn't intervene.’

  • ‘That's doubtful’

‘Actually, the "Quad," the US, Australia, India, and Japan, would be turbocharged overnight.’

  • ‘China could completely undermine its own bid for regional dominance if it were to suddenly assault Taiwan.’

‘Also, the argument fails to acknowledge that Taiwan itself could mount significant military resistance, exposing weaknesses in Beijing's military power.’

  • ‘Not to mention any such attack by China would further damage its ties to the European Union.’

‘Finally, The Economist speculates that China's President Xi Jinping may want to "crown his legacy" as they say, with the takeover of Taiwan.’

  • ‘That is a huge gamble.’

‘What happens if Xi attempts an invasion and fails?’

  • ‘His legacy would be defined by a reckless move that would destroy China's long-term strategic prospects.’

‘Still, there are other ways for China to assert greater control.’

  • ‘For example, the very fear of a looming threat would likely erode Taiwan's quest for independence over time without any shots fired.’
  • ‘How do the United States, the Quad, and Europe respond to that?’

‘Which brings us back to that very splashy and provocative cover and headline. Is Taiwan really "the most dangerous place on earth?" ’

  • ‘No. Or at least, not right now.’
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