Center Fellow Oriana Skylar Mastro discussed America's strategic, military, and economic interests in Taiwan, as well as the potential for an outbreak of armed conflict on WBUR's "On Point" with Meghna Chakrabarti.
Mastro first reflected on the escalation of Chinese miliary activity in the Taiwan Strait and the potential likelihood of conflict in the immediate future, stating that, "The increase in recent tensions does not tell us that there's a higher likelihood of war...we have this uptick in Chinese military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan...the number of air incursions in particular has increased exponentially."
The month of October, in particular, saw record high rates of Chinese aircraft with a record high on October 4 with 56 aircraft, and 159 aircraft total entering Taiwan's air defense identification zone.
Mastro then suggested that the recent displays of military power are not indicative of a plan to invade Taiwan immediately. "I think this is mainly political signaling, Beijing is trying to tell Taiwan, you're on your own...as much as the United States can make statements, can make agreements like AUKUS with the Australians, when push comes to shove, they are not here," she said.
Mastro indicated that the situation with Taiwan is part of a larger great power competition in which China aims to exert global influence. "The bottom line is that China has a different vision of what it wants the world to be like. And it's not only that China wants to control what governments do, they want to control what corporations, universities, individuals can say and do," she said.
"China has demonstrated whenever it has economic power, diplomatic power, or military power, they are more than willing to use it to hurt others...if [U.S.] national security has been free from foreign dictation, being free from other countries telling the United States and the American people what to do, then it's absolutely critical that we stand up to China," said Mastro.
When asked about the prevention of armed conflict, Mastro argued that "War is very easy to prevent, you just give the other side everything they want. The difficulty is ensuring our own peace and security, stability and prosperity in the face of this challenge. And so for that reason, I think [Taiwan] is very important, and Taiwan is only the the biggest Flashpoint and the first step to ensuring that the United States maintains its position in Asia and therefore its position in the world."