Since the beginning of the “freefall” of U.S.-China relations during the global COVID-19 pandemic last year, tension over the Taiwan Strait has been escalating, as attested by the constant military posturing, political signaling and coercive policies of the mainland. As the calls for “unification by force” worsen at an unprecedented pace in mainland China, the concern over the possible military takeover of Taiwan by China has exacerbated exponentially.
As recent as last month, Admiral Phil Davidson testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee that China could attempt to take control of Taiwan in the next six years. Such an estimate significantly accelerates the threat and imminence of a war over Taiwan, most likely fought between the United States and China.
There are debates as to whether Beijing has made any determined decision to wage a war over Taiwan in the next few years. The official policy statements from the top leaders on Taiwan still stick to the formula of “peaceful unification.” Based on the documents that guide China’s national strategies, including the 2035 Plan and the 14th Five-Year Plan, China’s national priority in the foreseeable future remains domestic development, instead of national unification.
However, at the same time, it is also widely recognized that China’s war preparation and military posturing toward Taiwan have accelerated in recent years. These actions include active military buildup, repeated coercive shows of force, as well as government-manipulated nationalism actively calling for “unification by force.” These conflicting messages blur China’s true intentions and calculations regarding Taiwan. Hence, they are particularly concerning for policymakers for their formulation of effective strategies toward a Taiwan-related contingency.
Read the full article in The Korea Times.