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Will Beijing Invade Taiwan?

Authors and Affiliations: Susan Thornton (Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center), Admiral Scott Swift (retired US Navy), Bonnie S. Glaser (Director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the US), Yu-Jie Chen (Affiliated Scholar at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute of NYU School of Law), Ryan Hass (Brookings Institute), Scott W. Harold (Associate Director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Policy at The RAND Corporation)

Organization/Publisher: China File

Date/Place: July 30, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Conversation

Word Count: 3191


Keywords: TaiwanChina-Taiwan RelationsU.S.-Taiwan RelationsMilitary, Chinese Communist Party 



Most of the authors agree that China waging war on Taiwan is not possible when China considers the conditions and costs. But if Taiwan expresses independence with strong supporting by the US, China most likely would intervene. However, China’s defensive behavior (including naval drills and aerial incursions) have increased over time in the South China Sea; and China frequently violates Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. In a way, China is trying to intimidate Taiwan, giving warnings that it must halt its progress towards independence. China’s main top priority is the deterrence of Taiwan being independent. Unification with the mainland has been a long-term aim, with China trying to get Taiwan with peaceful unification, which means fighting without fighting.  The unification of Taiwan with the mainland has a significant role in China’s rejuvenation dream, and Xi Jinping wants to make it part of his legacy. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s modernization focus includes seizing Taiwan, but because the PLA cannot guarantee to win the war, Xi Jinping will try to deter Taiwan through aggressive behaviours. The costs resulting from any invasion of Taiwan would affect China’s other projects like the Belt Road Project. Xi Jinping is considering these costs but must consider avoiding weakness or humiliation of China in the face of the world.


By: Esra Ibrahimagaoglu, CIGA Research Intern



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