Guarding the gateway: How Taiwan stands between US and a potential World War with China – The Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Taiwan stands as a pivotal stronghold safeguarding not just American security and prosperity but also acting as a bulwark against a potential global war. This assessment comes from a special report by the Heritage Foundation, highlighting the escalating tensions between the US and China over the island nation. The unfolding scenario has led many to question the wisdom behind the US’s commitment to Taiwan, considering the risks of clashing with China, America’s top competitor.
“The security and prosperity of the United States depend to a shocking extent on a secure Taiwan that functions independently of the [People’s Republic of China] PRC,” said Michael Cunningham, a research fellow and China expert at the Heritage Foundation.His insights were revealed in a document titled “The American case for Taiwan,” emphasizing the critical consequences of any shift in Taiwan’s status.
According to Fox News, the report underscores the importance of Taiwan post-World War II, as the US embarked on its Cold War against communism. Highlighting the historical context, Cunningham referenced a memorandum by General Douglas MacArthur from 1950, which argued that China’s control over Taiwan would significantly enhance its military positioning, potentially threatening US bases in Japan and the Philippines. “Little has changed in the decades following,” Cunningham remarked, signifying the enduring strategic relevance of Taiwan.
Echoing historical sentiments, Cunningham draws parallels with past strategic imperatives, emphasizing that “Taiwan’s raw fundamental importance to US national security can be summarized in one word: geography.”
Taiwan’s significance extends beyond regional security; it affects global trade and military logistics. A Chinese-dominated Taiwan could transform the landscape of international waters, crucial for world trade and security. “The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) handbook outlines a post-Taiwan unification plan to use blockades to limit Japan’s imports of raw materials gradually until its ‘national economy and war-making potential will collapse entirely’ and there is ‘a famine within the Japanese islands’,” Cunningham highlighted, pointing out the dire implications of Chinese control over the region.
However, Cunningham also noted the potential ripple effects beyond military confrontations. A shift in power could lead to a “crisis of confidence” regarding America’s commitment and capability to maintain regional balance. This could drive Southeast Asian nations towards Beijing, diluting US influence and destabilizing the security and trade frameworks.
Despite these risks, Cunningham observed that not all nations would align with a more assertive Beijing, and the risk of a global conflict might escalate. “China is the biggest threat to most regional actors, and it has territorial disputes with several of them,” he explained, stressing that these are “serious political issues” with potentially “explosive” outcomes.
He cautioned that if China were to gain control over Taiwan, it could set off a chain of events severely undermining American security and stability worldwide.
“Chinese control of Taiwan and its resulting boldness, freedom of movement, and assertiveness in its neighborhood would only make a regional or world war more likely,” the report said.
The report urges the US to strengthen Taiwan’s deterrence capabilities while bolstering its own military presence in the Indo-Pacific, a necessary measure to dissuade any potential aggression from China. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of bolstering Taiwan’s economy and international standing, which in turn would support its self-defense capabilities.

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