11 June 2024

‘Short of war,’ China’s gray zone strategy on Taiwan is gathering in intensity - Opinion

Kevin Rudd

The central question for our time, if we are to avoid war across the Taiwan Strait, is to understand how Chinese President Xi Jinping actually interprets the deterrence strategies of the United States, Taiwan itself, and U.S. allies and strategic partners.

What strategy is China now embarking upon, short of preparation for an actual invasion, to achieve its political objectives in relation to Taiwan? And what is the role of deterrence in responding to such a strategy?

The key to understanding Beijing’s red line on Taiwan’s political status is China’s fear that Taiwan will become an independent state, and be recognized by the international community as such, thereby destroying the possibility of unification with the mainland.

This, in turn, is based on Beijing’s insistence that any political dialogue between Taiwan and the mainland must be based on the “1992 Consensus” — an ambiguous arrangement broadly based on the principle of “one China,” albeit with differing interpretations of what that means to each side.

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