Cross-Strait Stability, Deterring the Use-of-Force, and Political Risk in Northeast and Southeast Asia
Some of my recent work looking at the U.S., China and Taiwan, and Northeast and Southeast Asia security dynamics
I have not been diligent about circulating my recent publications and other outputs, which have included a few publications, conferences, and webinar appearances in the first half of this year.
A recurring theme in my research and writing has focused on growing regional concerns about a rising China and the possibility that Beijing will use force to settle its long-standing differences with Taiwan, particularly as the probability of peaceful unification is increasingly remote.
Maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific is an incredibly complex, 360-degree problem, with effective deterrence comprising elements of perception, politics, international relations, and hard-military power. Geopolitics and geoeconomics are critical aspects of the balance of power in Asia, and it is increasingly clear that Southeast Asia has a stake in Northeast Asian security dynamics, though as a region it is not yet prepared to confront it directly. The prospect of conflict in Northeast Asia, however, is an immense and increasingly probable political risk that will have regional as well as global implications.
In April, I published a piece for the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute here in Singapore, exploring the intersection of Southeast and Northeast Asian security:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder of the possibility that the fate of Taiwan may be eventually decided by military force.
Japan and Australia have recently taken steps, especially through strengthened security ties with the US, to contribute to efforts to deter Beijing from using force, indicating their changed assessment of the expansive regional risks posed by a cross-Strait conflict.
For Southeast Asian states, the clear preference is to avoid becoming embroiled in a cross-Strait conflict, though it may come at the expense of their own principles and security.
Southeast Asian states would face unavoidable political, economic and security risks should cross-Strait tensions reach the point of armed conflict.
Eventually, Southeast Asian states may come to recognise that it cannot treat the threat of a cross-Strait war as a distant problem that they must stay out of at all costs. If so, they should consider using their agency to bolster efforts to deter China from resorting to force.
Click the title above to read the entire piece.
In November, I published this piece in National Defense University’s Strategic Forum, looking at the evolution of Taiwan’s defense strategy:
This article builds on my 2018 essay, HOPE ON THE HORIZON: TAIWAN’S RADICAL NEW DEFENSE CONCEPT, effectively chronicling the rise and decline of Taiwan’s Overall Defense Concept (ODC). In this article, I accurately predicted that the ODC would not be mentioned in Taiwan’s annual defense report, which was released a few weeks after my article’s publication, reflecting discord within Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense as various actors debate the nature of Taiwan’s asymmetric defense strategy and what it means for their respective interests.
Taiwan has begun to embrace a new asymmetric defense approach focused on fighting in the littoral with smaller, more survivable systems. This is key to defeating a Chinese invasion.
Support from President Tsai Ing-wen has been high but there is resistance from some senior members of Taiwan’s defense establishment who favor more expensive conventional systems.
Personnel recruitment and logistics are two key elements that the Overall Defense Concept and Taiwan’s defense strategy need to address.
The United States should not only provide critical defense items to Taiwan but also help Taipei refine its new defense strategy and improve interoperability between U.S. and Taiwan armed forces.
In April, I participated in a webinar organized by a Swiss NGO, looking at political risks in Asia, particularly in US-China relations:
I hope you find these materials and this email useful and of interest. I will continue to send them out periodically, highlighting my upcoming projects, looking at new developments in multilateral relations in the region such as AUKUS, the intersection of Northeast and Southeast Asian security interests, as well as regional aspects of China’s rise, and as China’s growing influence (and sometimes interference) and its effect on countries grappling with it.
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