The Taiwan Strait continues to be one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the Indo-Pacific, thanks to intensifying activity by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and a deepening crisis pitting democratic Taiwan against authoritarian China. At the heart of the conflict is Beijing’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan, an island-nation of 23.5 million people that has long been caught in the gravitational pull of its gigantic neighbour.
China’s inability to win over the Taiwanese public has fuelled anger in Beijing and given incentives for the PLA to modernize its force to prepare for an eventual Taiwan contingency. Importantly, the Chinese Communist Party has never abandoned its vow to “retake” Taiwan, by force if necessary. Following years of heavy investment and acquisitions, the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait has shifted in China’s favour – a trend that only continues.
Conflict in the Taiwan Strait cannot be ruled out. While attention has been riveted by what is happening in North Korea, we all need to be paying close attention to developments further south across the Taiwan Strait in coming years.
To shed light on this issue, MLI held an exclusive roundtable discussion with J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, UK, with the support of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada. Photos of the roundtable can be found here.
J. Michael Cole was also featured in MLI’s Pod Bless Canada podcast.