As China’s economic and military power has grown, Taiwan has come to occupy a pivotal position in the geopolitics of the Pacific era. If Beijing were to gain control of Taiwan, it would in the process break out of the chain of islands off its eastern coast from which the U.S. plans to contain Chinese expansionism. Once the Chinese Navy can operate from Taiwan, its access to the greater Pacific is essentially unfettered. Washington therefore needs to assure the independence of Taiwan, but it also needs to be mindful that China is a nuclear-armed state. In other words, it needs to avoid unnecessary provocations such as stationing U.S. troops on an island that China claims is part of its national territory. The best option the U.S. seems to have is to help Taiwan secure the means to deter and/or defeat any military moves against the island. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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