January 05, 2014

US analysts fear Taipei is growing closer to Beijing

Source: The Taipei Times

Journalist: William Lowther

Some US analysts fear that this year could be a dangerous one, with Taiwan growing diplomatically closer to Beijing and more distant from Washington.

By developing new weapons systems, Beijing hopes to keep the US and other allied forces from “intervening in areas of sensitivity,” Naval War College associate professor Andrew Erickson said.

In a new study published by the National Interest this week, Erickson said that China is trying to persuade Taipei and other regional capitals that Washington’s assistance in the case of a crisis “will be neither reliable nor forthcoming.”

“To further its near-seas interests, China is attempting to undermine the efficacy of, and decrease the likelihood of, involvement by US allied and friendly military forces there,” he said.

China, he said, is on the verge of achieving major breakthroughs in multi-axis cruise-missile strikes, antiship ballistic missiles, antisatellite weapons and navigation satellites.

“Such achievements, coupled with determination to address near-seas disputes, promise to enhance China’s ‘keep out’ capabilities and undermine regional stability,” Erickson said.

An American Enterprise Institute (AEI) academic focusing on national security and foreign policy issues, Michael Rubin, said the US must realize it is in a new “Great Game.”

“While American diplomacy is predicated on the notion of compromises and win-win situations, both the Russians and the Chinese see influence as a zero-sum game and, as a result, whenever we give either an inch, they take a mile and they have no intention of letting go,” Rubin said.

In an interview published by the Washington Times this week, Rubin said there is a clash of philosophies.

The administration of US President Barack Obama is pushing for more inclusion of smaller nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is giving increased support to the ASEAN as a counterweight to China’s growing geopolitical clout in the region.

However, Rubin and senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security Patrick Cronin have both told the Washington Times that the US should be doing more to beef up unilateral, military-based relations with smaller Asian nations.

The idea would be to send a message to China about the “depth and durability” of US interests in key regions.

Washington should be more active and might consider using aircraft carriers as “floating embassies,” Rubin said.

“The reason we don’t take advantage of this enough is because we do not see influence as a zero-sum game the way that the Chinese do. All the countries in the region realize this is the Chinese mentality — we, on the other hand, are wallowing in blissful ignorance of the way our adversaries think,” he said.

As a result, Rubin said, Taiwan and other allies are questioning the US’ commitment and Taipei has become significantly closer to Beijing in recent years “because they see us as unreliable.”

Meanwhile, resident academic at AEI Michael Auslin wrote in a paper that last year was “a wasted year” in East Asia, and that countries in the region failed to solve any foreign-relations problems and face greater tension this year.


  • Patrick M. Cronin

    Former Senior Advisor and Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program

    Patrick M. Cronin is a former Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the ...