This weekly recap focuses on the benefits of increasing and maintaining diversity in the armed forces, the challenges of telemedicine abortion, whether Indo-Pacific countries are backing China or Taiwan, and more.
Almost the entire Indo-Pacific region backs China over Taiwan. But U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August trip to Taiwan made it clear that key U.S. allies strongly support Taiwan's cause, particularly in the face of a potential war over the island. This suggests that Beijing's assertive behavior is steadily alienating nations that otherwise may have minded their own business.
Beijing has had only limited success in spreading its influence in the Pacific, with the notable exceptions of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati. To be sure, other victories should be expected to follow. The overall picture, however, is far more challenging for China.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is probably motivating Taiwan to better secure its own future versus China. But many of the challenges currently facing Taiwan, such as shortcomings in reservist training or lingering confusion over its military strategy, are difficult to fix, assuming they are even fixable.
In his book, Isolating the Enemy: Diplomatic Strategy in China and the United States, 1953–1956, Dr. Tao Wang reviews key moments in the diplomatic strategies of China and the United States between 1953 and 1956. Although the book illuminates fascinating aspects of the period's diplomatic history, it unfortunately does not offer much insight into the reasons for the relative success of these contrasting strategies.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has drawn concern and comparison to what China may have in mind for Taiwan. Given China's history of provocations, it could behoove Japanese leaders to devote renewed attention to how they would deal with a Taiwan crisis, especially as it could include an attack on Japan.
Russia's war in Eastern Europe has prompted Indo-Pacific security watchers to draw comparisons between Ukraine's plight and that of Taiwan with regard to China. But the more-applicable analogy is a different Indo-Pacific country: Vietnam.
Chinese leaders are learning from the conflict in Ukraine, not just by observing Russia's actions, but also the West's response. By also learning from the conflict, the United States, Taiwan, and other like-minded partners can help ensure that Beijing comes away from the current crisis with a greater appreciation of the risks that attacking Taiwan would entail.
On January 23, China repeated its familiar pattern of sending warplanes into Taiwan's airspace. This activity, which has continued in February, rarely has a clear single driver. Instead, there are several factors that should always be considered.
How might the United States and Japan prepare for possible conflict with China over Taiwan, and ensure forces are postured to operate together? The alliance could benefit from greater clarity, and practical conversations could make a better and stronger alliance in the new year.
Relinquishing diplomatic partners could free Taiwan from an unwinnable competition with China and refocus attention on what really matters: reducing China's coercive power by strengthening relationships with powers that can truly help.
Vaccine rollouts, an attack on the U.S. Capitol, massive ransomware attacks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, record numbers of job openings and people quitting, and more. RAND researchers weighed in on all these topics and more.
The single most challenging high-end threat to a key American national security interest today is probably a Chinese invasion attempt against Taiwan. The United States could try to make that scenario unthinkable for Beijing by ensuring that China cannot dominate the western Pacific region.