More on Taiwan
The aftereffects of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visit to Taiwan continue to reverberate throughout the island and the region, further exposing the truer nature of not only Taiwan-China cross-strait relations, but also U.S.-Sino relations as well.
The dominant focus informing the U.S.-Sino relations, at least from the broad American perspective, has to do with Taiwan. China maintains its claim of sovereignty over the island, while Taiwan’s connection to the United States comes in the form of American pledges of support should Taiwan be attacked by China.
American military resources, a story of limits
America’s force structure is already stretched too thin. The United States remains challenged in its efforts to pivot toward the Pacific Asia area. President Biden continues to work with a variety of allies in the region to sustain and/or shore up American influence throughout the region. But if a future war takes place in Europe requiring direct American long-term military commitments, what will happen if a simultaneous war breaks out over Taiwan? Can we assure the Taiwanese that we will remain a credible long-lasting partner in both peace and hot war? If so, how?
Taiwan is a bigger deal than we may think
There are many reasons why Taiwan is a huge deal for the United States. Let’s talk about some of the more salient aspects of Taiwan once again. The United States needs the world’s most advanced microchips to move forward in this collective post-digital AI economy. Without having access to the world’s most advanced microchips, American industrial ingenuity will falter. The United States must protect its ability to immediately purchase and receive access to the world’s most sophisticated microchips, which are produced in Taiwan. If this access was cut off, the American national economy would run the risk of not moving forward fast enough and strong enough to maintain aggregate economic advantage over China across time and space.
Second, Taiwan provides American defense contractors with a captive market to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of military hardware and assets each year. The Pentagon continues to grow its military-to-military relationship with Taiwan to stay credible throughout the region. All this is being done in part because the Taiwan Strait is an area of the world that sees billions of dollars of sea- and air-based commerce and traffic transit every year. This must be protected and kept open to sustain American business and geopolitical interests, because it directly impacts U.S. economic activity.
The Chinese government views our involvement with Taiwan as a risk factor that creates unneeded instability. To the extent that we have people like Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan, this may be true. Yet we cannot simply walk away from Taiwan because we are too closely linked in many ways to the island.
If Taiwan was to ever be captured, taken over, and controlled by the Chinese communist government, it would be the single largest advancement for China in the realm of exercising military power since World War II. If China took control of Taiwan, Taiwan would then become the single most important location in East Asia that would afford the Chinese with a substantial forward operating military base post that would further enable Chinese aircraft, ships, submarines, and all unmanned systems to more effectively project power and influence into both the western Pacific and broader Pacific region overnight. Taking control of Taiwan would be a game changer for the Chinese military and its ability to project power into our region of the world.
Since House Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the Chinese government has initiated hundreds, if not thousands, of cyber-attacks on Taiwan, effectively established an all-domain blockade of the island, and imposed an immediate ban on over 100 kinds of imports to the island. It is in China’s core strategic interest to prevent or stop any ruptures that may occur in cross-strait relations.
China remains committed to reasserting its economic power and dominance in the region, with great success. It has called out the United States for abrogating the over four-decade-old series of arrangements that have informed and shaped current Sino-U.S. relations. China remains determined to delegitimize Taiwan’s current political power structures in favor of reasserting a one-China policy toward Taiwan.
China’s power in the region can be seen through the absence or paucity of public statements offered by the top leaders of both Japan and South Korea to talk directly and publicly about the American House speaker’s recent trip to Taiwan.
How the Marianas and the Chamorro people remain totally affected by US-Sino relations
Our island chain is the single most important American colonial insular territory on planet Earth. If America goes to war with Taiwan, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands will continue to provide substantial sea-based and air-based military support as well as information support to U.S. forces throughout a hot war scenario. The problem with this situation is that our island chain does not have enough missile defense measures in place to fully protect Guam, Tinian, Rota, or Saipan should China launch multiple attacks against U.S. forces stationed in the Marianas. Our Chamorro and civilian populations have no comprehensive nuclear bomb shelter infrastructure in place to go to and we are not protected against use of hypersonic weapons.
Believing that the U.S. will defend the Marianas in case a hot war breaks out against China is simply not enough. We need much more than beliefs and hopes because if hot war broke out, tourism would collapse, imports of oil and food could be delayed or possibly cut off, and these kinds of conditions will not be sustainable for thousands of Chamorro Pacific Islanders and fellow citizens who do not have ready access to logistical networks and resources readily available to millions of people living on large landmasses such as North America.