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US should team up with allies to strengthen Taiwan's defenses: Council on Foreign Relations

Authors of new report list three possible scenarios for Chinese action against Taiwan

New Council on Foreign Relations report discusses potential Taiwan-China war. 

New Council on Foreign Relations report discusses potential Taiwan-China war.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The United States should team up with key allies such as Japan to help Taiwan defend itself against a potential attack by China, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) said in a special report published Thursday (Feb. 11).

The report, titled "The United States, China, and Taiwan: A Strategy to Prevent War" was authored by Robert D. Blackwill, senior CFR foreign policy expert, former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, and retired diplomat, and Philip Zelikow, a professor of history and governance at the University of Virginia.

Their main argument in the report is for multilateral cooperation between the U.S. and its allies to safeguard Taiwan’s free society and economy while deterring China from launching a military campaign against the island country.

The two authors also examine possible scenarios in which China could take action against Taiwan, starting with the occupation of outlying Taiwanese islands in the South China Sea or even Kinmen or Matsu near the Chinese coast. Such actions, even if successful, might provoke a global backlash which would work against Chinese interests, according to the report.

A second possibility would be a “quarantine” in which all sea and air traffic approaching Taiwan would be screened by China and sometimes prevented from arriving.

The third scenario would be a full-scale military attack, both by sea and air, with troops landing on Taiwan to “decapitate” the government and destroy military installations. The authors wrote that in theory, the Taiwanese armed forces would have a strong advantage in this scenario, though a Chinese victory would end with absolute control.

While the report advocates helping Taiwan join international organizations as an observer and strengthening its defense capabilities, it rejected the Trump administration’s tendency to condemn China’s government. It advocates “strategic ambiguity” through sticking to the “one-China” policy and opposing de jure Taiwanese independence.

Blackwill and Zelikow wrote that the U.S. government should consult with allies in the region, such as Japan, Australia, and India, about policies on a potential Taiwan-China conflict and that it should also explain the implications of such a contingency to Congress and the American public.