TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found a majority of U.S. and Taiwanese experts believe that a Taiwan Strait crisis is likely in 2024, that China is capable of imposing a blockade on Taiwan, but that it is not currently capable of launching an amphibious invasion.
On Monday (Jan. 22), CSIS released a report titled "Surveying the Experts" which is based on a poll of 52 "leading U.S. experts" and 35 comparable experts from Taiwan from Nov. 28 to Dec. 15, 2023. The U.S. experts had experience serving the government, academia, or think tanks, while the Taiwanese were leading scholars selected in coordination with the Institute for National Defense and Security Research.
The majority of the experts said that attempts to ease tensions between Washington and Beijing have lowered the risk of a crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Of the U.S. experts, 67% said that a Taiwan Strait crisis is likely in 2024, while 57% of Taiwan participants held this opinion.
When asked if Beijing sees the outcome of Taiwan's election as unfavorable, only 40% think China will wait for the new president to announce policies before acting. Over 50% of the experts believe Beijing will not wait, but they differed on whether China would take escalatory measures before or after the presidential inauguration.
Nearly half of the Taiwanese respondents said that if China considers the election outcome unfavorable, the most esclatory act by Beijing would be "coercive military action." However, the majority of U.S. experts predicted a "large-scale military exercise encircling Taiwan," but most did not foresee a quarantine, blockade, or invasion.
The victory in the 2024 Taiwanese presidential election by the Democratic Progressive Party candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) is widely seen by China watchers as a negative outcome from Beijing's point of view. Lai in the past described himself as a "pragmatic worker for Taiwanese independence."
The majority of the experts, 90% of U.S. participants and 62% of Taiwanese respondents, assessed that China presently has the means to impose a "law-enforcement-led quarantine" consisting of China Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels that would stymie trade with Taiwan. When asked if they believe the People's Liberation Army (PLA) can enforce a military-led blockade of Taiwan, 80% of U.S. and 60% of Taiwanese experts concurred that China has the requisite capabilities.
However, when asked whether the PLA can launch an amphibious invasion of Taiwan, only 27% of U.S. experts surveyed said yes, while only 17% of Taiwanese scholars think Beijing can execute such an operation.