"China-US Military Confrontation Hotspots and Taiwan Strait Security" Forum
INPR President Dr. Tien’s Opening Remarks:
“China-US Military Confrontation Hotspots and Taiwan Strait Security” Symposium Sep. 2, 2020 INPR President Dr. Tien’s Opening Remarks: Both scholars and mainstream international media have been eager to conceptualize the current US-China relationship. Regardless of which coinage is used, all refer to the war-like nature of the present US-China relationship troubling. However, the present mutual conflicts bear a clear distinction between the post-WWII US-Soviet rivalries and the ongoing US-China confrontations. The US-China strategic rivalry involves ideological and military conflicts, but disputes and demarcation in economics, trade, culture, and technology affairs are more or less fused following decades of wide-ranging interactions. Consequently, if defining the current US-China relationship as one of cold-war nature, it can’t be seen quite as the same in comparison with the previous cold-war between the US centric alliances and the Soviet-led communist bloc. Despite these fundamental differences, many scholars, journalists and political figures begin to regard events since July this year as the onset of a new cold-war.
Mr. Wu Ming-jie:
On Military Rivalry between the US and China: One of the main causes of increased US military drills is China’s capitalization on the pandemic to compete for hegemony by destructing the status quo in the Pacific—expanding its presence in the South China Sea and East China Sea China. Compared with the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, where USS Nimitz and USS Independence had only arrived in the Taiwan Strait post-incident, the US is now deploying military forces in advance, with the arrival of U.S. military ships, and aircraft in the area acting as a strong signal to China. Although there are US military forces around the Taiwan Strait, the direct dispatch of U.S. troops to Taiwan to fight ground warfare will be the last resort. At the present, feasible assistance to Taiwan include sharing military intelligence and providing technical training in the US airspace.
As of now, both sides are just in demonstrations of military power, with none possessing the intention of initiating a war yet. Despite it being an inopportune time for the PLA to invade Taiwan, and the Global Times calling on the three parties not to fire the first shot, Taiwan must not let its guard down as wars often occur by accident.
Professor Ma Zhen-kun:
Political militarization vs. military politicization: War is usually a last resort after exhausting all political means. Currently, the United States has militarized politics, i.e., using military actions to transmit signals and to achieve political goals, and China vice versa. Chinese military operations are mainly aimed at so called “Taiwan independence forces”, there is no large-scale military deployment—it's all saber-rattling. Strategic advancement vs. strategic contraction: The United States began strategic advancements after May and June this year, pushing the CCP back to the first island chain. With aircraft carriers entering the South China Sea from time to time, the CCP was forced to turn to strategic contraction, eventually reducing to firing from the coastal region. Although China claimed such actions were aimed at Taiwan independence and foreign forces, the defensive nature of the coastal deployment was not targeted towards Taiwan independence forces in reality. Sino-US military confrontation: The United States and China have entered the game of chicken, and Taiwan must avoid winding up in the Prisoner’s dilemma. Therefore, Taiwan should advance engagement with countries that hold similar ideals, such as the United States and Japan.
Secretary-General Wang Zhi-sheng:
Location of the US-China military conflict: The media has asked whether the confrontation between the US and China will escalate to a conflict in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. Based on the fact that US has a favorable legal stance in terms of freedom of navigation under international law in the South China Sea, and the situation involves Southeast Asian countries and Japan, the conflict will take place in the South China Sea. However, since August, the US-China military deployments have shown signs of moving northward towards the Taiwan Strait. When the situation in the South China Sea does not intensify the hostility, the focus will gradually move northward. For China, although both the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait are in its core interests, it believes that the issue in the Taiwan Strait is an internal affair, rendering it a less urgent matter. Therefore, I believe that the South China Sea will be prioritized, while the tension in the Taiwan Strait will nevertheless gradually rise.
Professor Su Zi-yun: Observing the series of military exercises by the United States and China to flex military muscle, I think US strategy is summarized as “besiege, but no battle,” while that of China is “act, and avoid war.” The US military deployment in the Indo-Pacific region is said to remain in a state of “under arms” as President Trump had expressed if China tries to either invade Taiwan or effectively take control of it and its important industries, they know what he would do. US Secretary of Defense Esper even wrote an article titled “The Pentagon is prepared for China. On the other end, China is more obscure as Xi Jin-ping has not directly expressed his position. Overall, the US is trying to restrain the CCP’s military expansion, while China is adopting strategic defense with assertive boundaries established.
Professor Lin Ying-you:
The current People’s Liberation Army is no longer the fledgling force that just launched its military reform in 2016. In addition to political and diplomatic deterrence, the current intensive military exercises of the PLA are suggestive of a de facto general inspection of the military reform. The CCP has made its judgment that Taiwan fears and refuses the idea of warfare, leading China to adopt Sun Tzu’s supreme art of war—subduing the adversary without combat. Although the fate of the four seas—the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea—are intertwined, the first shot fired by the United States and China will not be in the Taiwan Strait, but rather in the South China Sea. Some believe that if war were to break out, then it would be a “one-shot war,” meaning the first round of conflict would be the only round of war to decide the trajectory of how events unfold. This being the case, undertaking preventive measures so Beijing will refrain from war is the key as well as the goal of Taiwan’s national defense. Taiwan knows the CCP best, but it also needs to understand the PLA, particularly its military culture. With intelligence operations as our advantage, calculating the opposition through practical facts is the path to finding triumph through wisdom.
President Tien Hong-mao's Concluding Remarks:
When estimating the military strength of the two sides across the Taiwan Strait, it is necessary to consider that China has several foes in its proximity and the fact that the establishment of our military is essentially only aimed at a single target. I do agree with Director Guo Yu-ren's statement that the US-China competition is located off the coast of American mainland, not near San Francisco. Whether the outcome would be in victory or defeat is a mystery until the war is started. In truth, apart from the Korean War, the CCP seems to have not fought a real war since its establishment. The Vietnam War and the Sino-Soviet border conflict were both skirmishes; however, the political implications of the recent Sino-Indian border conflict are nonetheless quite important.