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Thomas Gallatin / October 21, 2021

China’s Targeting of Taiwan Hits U.S.

The U.S. economy relies heavily on trade with Taiwan. Any disruption of this supply is a major problem.

Beijing has made no secret of its intentions regarding Taiwan. China has long expressed the view that the island nation is not a separate state, but rather a rogue region belonging to the mainland that will eventually be brought under the communist government’s control. This stance was recently brought to bear with Beijing’s flying 150 fighter jets and bombers into Taiwan’s air space. This latest provocation has many in the West wondering not if but when China will initiate a full-scale strike against Taiwan.

But it’s not just the U.S. and Europe that are seeing the writing on the wall. Several other nations in China’s immediate region see it as well. Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, has proposed that the island nation double its defense spending from its current 1% of GDP to 2%. And the primary reason has everything to do with China. As Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Sanae Takaichi explained, “We are demonstrating our resolve to defend the Japanese people’s lives, property, territory, territorial waters, territorial airspace, sovereignty and national honor.”

Australia also sees the Chinese threat and is acting accordingly, demonstrated by its recent new joint security partnership between the U.S. and UK, dubbed AUKUS. This partnership comes with new nuclear-powered submarines, something Australia has never had before.

France has also had a longtime and significant regional presence in the West Pacific and, importantly, has a close relationship with Taiwan.

Yet by far the one nation with the ability to successfully counter a Chinese invasion of Taiwan remains the U.S. The question, however, is one of time. Initially, China would likely strike rapidly. Perhaps that would begin with a massive cyberattack potentially throwing the island nation into darkness, all while the Chinese military quickly worked to take control of air fields, as Taiwan is well equipped to defend an invasion by sea. Taiwan likely would not be able to hold out against a full-scale attack by China for long without U.S. help, but how quickly would the U.S. be able to mobilize and respond?

The even bigger question is this: Would Joe Biden actually elect to respond with military force? His Afghanistan debacle certainly gives no assurances that he would make such a decision, which may be why it appears that China is ramping up its military activities. But allowing Taiwan to fall to China also holds a massive impact to the U.S. as Taiwan is one of world leaders in the manufacture of semiconductors, which are used in numerous products and upon which the U.S. relies heavily. By breaking this supply chain, Beijing would put quite the squeeze on the U.S. economy. Even so, that’s just one of the myriad problems posed by Chinese aggression in the face of the weakness of the American president.

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