Cross-Straits Series: Conflict in the Taiwan Strait?

On February 9, the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a discussion on the possibility and consequences of a war in the Taiwan Strait. The featured discussants were Dr. Roger Cliff, Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council; Ms. Tiffany Ma, Director of Political and Security Affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research; and Dr. Thomas McNaugher, Professor in Practice and Director of Studies at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Shannon Tiezzi, Managing Editor at The Diplomat.

Taiwan’s elections on January 16 resulted in both its new president and, for the first time, a majority of legislators being from pro-independence parties. This has raised concerns about how Beijing will react. The official China Daily stated after the election that if president-elect Tsai Ing-wen does not accept that Taiwan is part of China, she will be leading Taiwan in the direction of “conflicts and tension.” Underscoring the point, the mainland military recently conducted amphibious landing exercises along its coast opposite Taiwan. Would China actually use force against Taiwan? And under what circumstances? What are the current capabilities of China’s military? Does it have the ability to force Taiwan to unify with the mainland?

This Atlantic Council event is part of the Cross-Straits Series of the Brent Scowcroft Center’s Asia Security Initiative, which examines strategic and current affairs surrounding cross-straits relations.