Deploying more US troops to Taiwan too risky: Report
A report suggests that increasing US military presence in Taiwan may provoke Chinese retaliation in the form of expanded economic warfare and military drills.
The US-Taiwan relationship is getting stronger and more apparent, making it more difficult for the Chinese authorities to ignore, pointed out Daniel Larison in an article published in Responsible Statecraft under the title Why sending more US military troops to Taiwan is so risky.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US claimed that an alleged rising "threat" from China vis-à-vis Taiwan has led it to plan a four-fold increase in the number of troops on the Island - the largest deployment of US forces in Taiwan in decades.
The report, which cited US officials, explained that currently, 30 US troops are stationed in Taiwan. However, it is planned that an additional 100 to 200 soldiers are likely to arrive over the coming months.
The newly deployed troops will include special operations forces and US Marines that will be tasked to expand a pre-existing training program that the Pentagon wanted to keep out of the public eye.
According to the WSJ report, the purpose of the enhanced training program is to persuade Taiwan to adopt a "porcupine strategy" or an asymmetric military tactic in order to stave off any alleged Chinese "invasion" of the Island.
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Chinese balloon incident showed inadequacy of US government
In his article, Larison considered that the US' intensified support for Taiwan risks further deterioration of the relationship with China, adding that increasing US military presence in Taiwan may provoke Chinese retaliation in the form of expanded economic warfare and military drills.
Despite hopes for an improved US-China relationship following the tensions between the two resulting from then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit to Taiwan last summer, the article indicated that all efforts to repair ties have failed before they even started.
Citing the US overreaction to the Chinese balloon incident, postponing US State Secretary Antony Blinken's visit to Beijing, and the US claims about China considering military aid to Russia, Larison said that "accidents and mistakes that will sometimes happen with other major powers have become occasions for panic and alarmism rather than manageable problems that they are."
"Under these circumstances, there is a danger that previously routine activities that did not disrupt the bilateral relationship in the past will now be perceived as provocations and lead to strong responses from the other government," he added.
The report considered that the Chinese balloon incident showed how inadequate the US government's preparations for crisis management are, pointing out that "the instinct to cancel diplomatic meetings in response to an incident does not inspire confidence that a more serious clash could be safely navigated."
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A policy of actively pursuing rivalry and containment
According to Larison, US-Chinese relations are arguably worse than at any time since the two governments normalized relations in 1979, but back then, "the desire on both sides to maintain a stable and productive relationship prevailed to make sure that these were only temporary setbacks."
Today, the writer argues, these relations have been "replaced by a policy of actively pursuing rivalry and containment, which means that every incident will cause an already poor relationship to deteriorate further."
"It is not enough simply to say that the United States doesn’t seek conflict or a new cold war. The United States has to back up those statements by exercising restraint in what it does and how it talks about the relationship with China," Larison stressed.
He indicated that in order "to prevent tensions over Taiwan from getting worse, Washington needs to worry less about building up its military strength in the region and instead focus on reassuring the Chinese government that it does not want to abandon the status quo that has kept the peace for more than 40 years."
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