By: Sarah Kirchberger

What is the kernel of the issue?

Strategic US ambiguity on the Taiwan issue has run its course. This risks the United States’ ability to sustain deterrence in the face of an increasingly belligerent China.

Why is the issue important?

As Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined in “The Grand Chessboard,” it is in US geopolitical interests to avoid a forcible takeover of Taiwan by China. Failure to prevent it would have “devastating” consequences for the US position in Asia—apart from destroying one of the most successful young liberal democracies on the planet.

What is the recommendation?

To enhance its strategic messaging toward China, the US should transform its regular military exchanges with Taiwan to a steady train-and-equip presence that would function as an informal tripwire force, to raise the stakes for China and to remove any lingering doubts regarding US involvement in the event of a Chinese attack. The risks of not doing so far outweigh those associated with the likely Chinese reaction.