Against the backdrop of mounting tensions between the US and China, Taiwan finds itself at the epicenter of a rapidly changing regional dynamic. As one of the most likely flashpoints for conflict, it is of paramount importance that Taiwan devises a strategy to defend itself. However, there is a growing chorus in Taiwan for acquiescence to foreign threats in the name of opposing war. This is a perilous narrative that would leave the nation vulnerable to invasion and devoid of its inherent capability to defend itself against China.
Advocates of this sentiment suggest that Taiwan’s fortification of its defense mechanisms is provocative and risks inflaming tensions with China. This flawed reasoning disregards Beijing’s inexorable ambition to annex Taiwan and expand its authoritarian influence in the region. Surrendering Taiwan’s ability to defend itself only serves to embolden China in its pernicious objectives. Moreover, in the absence of a prepared defense, Taiwan could be forced to capitulate and negotiate peace in the event of a conflict.
However, the likelihood of negotiations with the Chinese Communist Party being successful is questionable, as the regime has demonstrated a lack of credibility by failing to honor Hong Kong’s promised autonomy, and by systematically violating human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet — just to name a few examples in its long history of disregarding previous promises.
The only recourse for Taiwan to withstand Chinese aggression is to collaborate with allies, bolster national defense and prepare for war. This entails maintaining a robust military presence and pursuing economic and social prosperity, while deepening ties with those who oppose China’s authoritarian expansion.
Preparedness for war does not equate to actively seeking it out, but rather signifies readiness to deter aggression and reduce the likelihood of conflict. Succumbing to this “anti-resistance sentiment” is counterproductive and a guise for increasing the probability of war. Taiwan must be primed and alert to defend itself against all forms of aggression.
Taiwan’s leaders must heed the dangers of this sentiment and undertake decisive measures to strengthen the nation’s defenses against China. This involves working in conjunction with allies to form a strong coalition against Chinese aggression and investing in Taiwanese military capabilities.
The stakes are high, and Taiwan cannot afford to be complacent in the face of Chinese belligerence. Only by exhibiting a resolute defense and a steadfast commitment to resistance can Taiwan ensure its sovereignty and security.
Lien Yi-ting is a graduate student at the Harvard Kennedy School. She served as a spokesperson for President Tsai Ing-wen’s re-election campaign office and has worked at the Presidential Office and the National Security Council.
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