The threat may be far more imminent than many imagine. According to Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu “the Chinese authoritarian leaders may find Taiwan as a convenient scapegoat.
Therefore Taiwan needs to be doubly concerned about a possible Chinese use of force against us.”
In this video DW's Chief International Editor Richard Walker explores the roots of the threat in depth – aided by military and strategy experts from Taiwan, China, the United States and Germany.
He charts the dramatic expansion in Beijing’s navy and advanced missile arsenal that is shifting the balance of power against the U.S. in the Pacific.
The video examines three possible scenarios: China gradually chipping away at Taiwan’s stability via military and hybrid means; a sudden, Crimea-style annexation of outlying islands; and a full-scale invasion.
This final scenario would pose extremely dangerous for global stability. “Everything that happens in this scenario happens under the shadow of a potential nuclear war,” warns Ian Easton, author of “The China Invasion Threat.”
Adding to Taiwan’s profound vulnerability, there is growing doubt that the any country would come to its aid in the event of Chinese military action – or even have the capability to do so.
“Even five years ago, the ability of the United States to come to Taiwan’s defense was greater than it is today,” warns Bonnie Glaser, one of Washington’s top experts on the region. “It has eroded over the last decade. And that is, I think, problematic.”
In the U.S., Congressman Ted Yoho of the House Foreign Affairs Committee explains his bill that would commit the U.S. to come to Taiwan’s defence, ending the longstanding “strategic ambiguity” that he and some experts see as destabilizing.
But could this in itself pose greater dangers?
Europe must also take the threat more seriously, argues leading German expert Janka Oertel. “We have not devoted enough energy to these kinds of scenarios. What we lack is a European conversation about what kind of player Europe in the future would like to be in these kinds of scenarios.”
The video concludes with a passionate plea from Joseph Wu for democracies to end Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation from global bodies like the U.N. and the World Health Organization: “It's not fair to the Taiwanese people.”
But what should the democratic world do to minimize the risk of an open conflict between China and Taiwan?