The next president of the US should “do everything in his power” to ensure that political integration between Taiwan and China remains a “far-off prospect,” a new analysis says.
Written by American Enterprise Institute (AEI) researcher Shannon Mann, the analysis was published this week on the Web site PolicyMic, which is aimed at people in their 20s — the so-called millennials — interested in US foreign policy.
PolicyMic claims to have writers in 35 countries and more than 6 million unique monthly readers.
For many of those readers, Mann’s analysis may be their first significant introduction to the Taiwan-China issue.
Promises by the administration of US President Barack Obama to deepen economic and military ties with allies in the Asia-Pacific region have fallen flat in the light of budgetary realities, Mann says.
Defense cuts totaling nearly US$1 trillion over the next decade “expose the gap between the White House’s unrealistic expectations and the reality of limited resources,” and no other ally is left more vulnerable than Taiwan, Mann says.
In the past five years, Beijing has used its influence to dissuade other countries from signing trade agreements with Taiwan and Taipei has been led into deep economic ties with China, while Chinese leaders have openly stated that economic relations with Taiwan are part of an “embedded reunification” strategy, Mann says.
“Today, the American punditocracy believes that Taiwan’s reunification with China through intensifying economic reliance is inevitable,” Mann says. “If Taiwan integrates with China, however, US strategic interests in Asia will be greatly diminished both for the US and for our regional allies.”
Should China take over Taiwan it would win major advantages, including radar sites to search for US Navy ships in the Pacific and a deep-water naval base at Suao.
The Pratas Reef would extend China’s jurisdiction another 320km and control of Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) would provide another military base in contested waters, Mann says.
Most importantly, the Taiwan Strait would become an inland waterway allowing Beijing to block Japanese and South Korean access to vital sea lanes.
“Even in the face of tremendous budget cuts, it is time to re-evaluate our policy towards mainland China and Taiwan,” Mann says. “Subsequent US administrations should help Taiwan become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to decrease its economic reliance on China, as well as increase joint military training exercises.”
“The bottom line is that Taiwan can’t fall off the strategy-making table — tactics that encourage Taiwan to remain politically less ‘Chinese’ are necessary for US security in Asia,” Mann concludes.