On September 28th, the Atlantic Council hosted the first of their five Cross-Strait Series seminars of the year.

The panel discussion – on the future of US foreign policy towards China and Taiwan – featured Michael Swaine of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Mark Stokes of the Project 2049 Institute, and Banning Garrett of the Atlantic Council. The discussion was moderated by Robert Sutter, professor of Practice of International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Michael Swaine began the conversation by discussing China’s rising military capabilities and the West’s economic crisis as two of the most relevant trends for the United States to consider in regards to Cross-strait relations. He argued that current US policy of maintaining the status quo only shapes the environment in an indirect way, partially due to a lack of general understanding of Chinese intentions and policies. As an alternative, he suggested the establishment of a platform from which Washington and Beijing could discuss potential arms sales, ultimately linking these talks to incentives that would further dialogue across the strait.

Mark Stokes shifted the discussion slightly by asserting that Taiwan’s security and US posture towards the region is not simply an issue of military dominance. Instead, we must also consider Taiwan’s technological innovation and political integration as relevant factors that contribute to cross-strait relations. Taiwan has been building its military capabilities for a long time, but more importantly, it has become a resilient democracy, and more stable than outsiders assume. Although the future is uncertain, Mr. Stokes suggested that any sudden shift in US policy toward Taiwan would be ill-advised.

Banning Garrett provided expert commentary on the future of the trilateral relationship, and suggested that cooperation between China and the United States in particular, proved integral to global security and prosperity in the coming decades.

Although the Atlantic Council has hosted the Cross-Strait Series for several years, it was the first time the program fell under the growing Brent Scowcroft Center for International Security, which will house the Council’s growing work on Asian security issues. For updates on upcoming Asian security programs at the Atlantic Council, please email isp@acus.org with the subject line “Asia Contact List”. 

A discussion with

Michael Swaine
Senior Associate, Asia Program
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Mark Stokes
Executive Director
Project 2049 Institute

Moderated by

Robert Sutter
Professor of Practice of International Affairs
George Washington University 

This discussion is part of  the International Security Program’s Cross-Strait Series.