In this paper, CNAS Senior Fellow Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper examines three prominent escalation scenarios in the Asia-Pacific in the context of China’s developing area-denial/anti-access capability: a seizure of the Southwest Island Chain in the East China Sea; a seizure of the Spratly Island features; and an outright invasion of Taiwan. Dr. Rapp-Hooper analyzes the differences between deliberate, inadvertent, and accidental escalations to advise policymakers on how to proscribe adversaries from achieving escalation dominance by exploiting asymmetric vulnerabilities. Dr. Rapp Hooper concludes that the best counter to deliberate and inadvertent escalations are tailored deterrence and clarified escalation thresholds respectively.
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