Dire Strait?

Military Aspects of the China-Taiwan Confrontation and Options for U.S. Policy

by David A. Shlapak, David T. Orletsky, Barry Wilson


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Among the hottest flashpoints in the world today, the Taiwan Strait cannot be ignored by U.S. policymakers and diplomats. China regularly rattles its saber to intimidate Taiwan and influence U.S. policy but has thus far stopped short of overt military action. This report analyzes the steps Taiwan should take to bolster the odds in its favor should a conflict with the mainland occur and describes how the United States can most effectivelycontribute in both peace and crisis. The authors conclude that the United States and Taiwan can take a number of fairly simple and relatively inexpensive measures — including hardening air bases and other facilities and upgrading the air defense command and control system — that would significantly enhance Taiwan's ability to defend itself against a large-scale Chinese attack.

Table of Contents

  • Preface PDF

  • Figures PDF

  • Tables PDF

  • Summary PDF

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments PDF

  • Abbreviations PDF

  • Chapter One

    Introduction PDF

  • Chapter Two

    Scenario and Approach PDF

  • Chapter Three

    Issues and Implications PDF

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations and Concluding Remarks PDF

  • Appendix A

    Some Thoughts on the PRC Missile Threat PDF

  • Appendix B

    Overview of the JICM PDF

  • Bibliography

    References PDF

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Security Research Division.

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