2023-1109: Be Ready for China’s Military Operations by Late 2020s; Taiwan’s Security Is an International Issue

Be Ready for China’s Military Operations Against Taiwan by Late 2020s: Ex-Pentagon Official

On November 8, former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy called on Taiwan, the United States, and their allies to be prepared for “a moment in the late 2020s” when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) might launch military operations against Taiwan.

Speaking virtually at a security conference in Taipei, Flournoy said the Indo-Pacific region is now facing the rise of a “more assertive China.”

China is “trying to change some of those rules of the international order and to assert its will, as its economic and military power grows,” she said.

Increasing tensions between the U.S. and China in recent years were not because of a change in the U.S. policy, but a leadership change in the Chinese Communist Party from former Chinese President Hu Jintao to President Xi Jinping in 2012, she said.

Under Hu and his predecessors, “China was very much internally focused on its own economic development, on bringing elements of its population out of poverty into the middle class, building its own economy,” she said.

However, with the arrival of President Xi, China “dropped the mask or the veil” and “started to really flex its muscles economically, taking coercive measures against other countries militarily, building up its military,” she said.

Both “denial” and “deterrence” are critical to preventing a potential U.S.-China military conflict over Taiwan, Flournoy pointed out.

Denial means convincing Xi that “he can’t be successful using military force to achieve his objectives [over Taiwan],” while deterrence through cost and position means that “even if he could succeed, it would be at such great cost that it would be a Pyrrhic victory,” she said.

Xi has been focused on economic and political coercion to shrink Taiwan’s international space and pressure Taiwan to change its posture, she said.

Xi has also instructed the PLA to continue its buildup to give him military options against Taiwan by 2027, she said.

The U.S., Taiwan, our allies, and the international community “collectively need to be ready for a moment in the late [20]20s when deterrence may be tested,” Flournoy said.

“And we need to be prepared for that and to be confident that President Xi, if he does test the waters of using force, that he will conclude that it’s too risky and too costly and he cannot succeed,” she added.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202311080007
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/11/09/2003808917

Taiwan’s Security Is an International Issue: New French Envoy to Taiwan

Taiwan’s security is “an issue of international security and not an issue of domestic politics,” new French Office in Taipei Director Franck Paris said on November 6.

Paris, who assumed his post in August, made the comment during a news briefing at his residence, adding that maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is in France’s interest.

Taiwan’s security is an international issue that has been brought up repeatedly in meetings held by international forums such the Group of Seven (G7) and European Council, Paris said.

G7 foreign ministers have in recent joint statements reiterated their “commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” which they consider “indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community.”

European Union (EU) leaders also expressed concerns over growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, as well as opposition to any unilateral moves to change the “status quo,” in their conclusions issued after the European Council meeting in July.

The importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is a narrative that should be promoted not just in Asia, but also in other parts of the world, such as Africa, Latin America, and Europe, Paris said. 

France has strong connections and good relationships with many countries, so it could play a role in contributing to that effort, he added.

The French government would continue to honor the freedom of navigation principle by sending French military vessels through the Taiwan Strait, Paris said.

“This is an important commitment,” not only by the French president, but also endorsed by the French parliament, he added.

While relations with China are also “crucial” for France, such engagements would not undermine the French government’s efforts to continue to improve ties with Taiwan, he said, adding that “Taiwan is a partner for its own merits.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202311060006
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/11/07/2003808813