Former US representative to the UN John Bolton said that Taipei could gain “substantial support” from its neighbors by distancing itself from China’s “belligerent” declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
“Taiwan has an interesting potential role,” he said.
Bolton said that by stating publicly that it does not recognize Beijing’s defense zone, and that it wants to confer with Japan, South Korea and other nations to align their responses, Taiwan could reduce its international isolation.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal — the article is also to be published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) — Bolton said that by taking action now, Taiwan would “serve notice” that it will not accept being declared part of China’s next power projection.
A senior fellow at AEI, Bolton said that China’s declaration on Nov. 23 of an air defense identification zone over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — also claimed by Taiwan and Japan, where they are known as the Senkaku Islands — “is indicative of a much larger problem for the United States.”
China’s growing military and its “aggressive territorial claims” leave the US in urgent need of new strategic thinking.
Bolton suggested three “building blocks” for a more realistic strategy.
Washington has an “enormous opportunity” to maintain and expand its influence along China’s periphery from India to Japan, he said.
“Whether we have the wit to exploit this opportunity remains to be seen,” he added.
US allies in Asia would welcome a stronger, more visible Washington role in the region “even if they won’t necessarily say so expressly in today’s uncertain and dangerous environment,” he said.
Second, the US can no longer countenance massive military-budget cuts and should welcome Japan resuming a normal nation’s full self-defense role, Bolton said.
Third, the US and its allies should press China to join a vigorous campaign to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by North Korea, Iran and others.
Resident fellow at AEI Dan Blumenthal points out that within China, domestic insecurity is growing, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) may be facing a series of economic crises and the Chinese population is aging, which will be very expensive.
“Washington and its allies need to undermine China’s strategy and the coercion that it requires,” says Blumenthal in a commentary published by The National Interest.
“Subtly demonstrating China’s manifold problems and vulnerabilities may help Xi get back to the important work of solving his country’s manifold problems,” says Blumenthal.
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