Taiwan still matters

By Will Inboden

I’ve been in Taiwan this week with a small delegation sponsored by the estimable Project 2049. Our visit comes at what would appear to be an auspicious time in cross-strait relations, as Taiwan and mainland China have made concrete steps over the past two years to reduce tensions and improve their economic and transportation ties, along with increasing political dialogue through multiple channels. But complacency is not in order. I have heard numerous concerns expressed this week about the fragility of the current equilibrium. In particular, both Taiwan and China face political transition points next year that could also exacerbate cross-strait tensions. And many Taiwanese feel uncertain of the White House’s commitment to Taiwan’s security — an uncertainty that could possibly undermine their confidence in continuing to improve their relationship with China. Maintaining a security equilibrium takes regular tending and frequent calibration. The Obama administration should consider taking steps now to preserve the current stability, as well as preparing contingency plans for possible disruptions in the next year.

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