Taiwan, China, and the Threat of War

A small island one hundred miles off the coast of China could be the flashpoint that determines the future of great-power competition. Experts increasingly warn that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be globally catastrophic, regardless of its success or if the United States intervenes. How concerned should Americans be?

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Molly McAnany - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • David Sacks
    Fellow for Asia Studies
  • James Lin
    Assistant Professor at the University of Washington

Show Notes

China has long claimed Taiwan as its own, and U.S. policy toward the issue is strategically ambiguous. If an increasingly assertive China invades the island, where most Taiwanese people vehemently oppose unification, the United States and the world will suffer massive economic and geopolitical consequences. Global economic loss would likely reach trillions of dollars, and if the United States gets involved in the conflict, an invasion could also trigger the first great-power war in a century. But invasion is not a given, and U.S. officials can still adapt their policies to deter China from altering the status quo.



From CFR


Lindsay Maizland, “Why China-Taiwan Relations Are So Tense


Richard Nixon, “Asia After Viet Nam,” Foreign Affairs, 1967


U.S.-Taiwan Relations in a New Era: Responding to a More Assertive China, 2023



From Our Guests


David Sacks, “Enhancing U.S.-Japan Coordination for a Taiwan Conflict,” CFR.org


David Sacks, “Why Is Taiwan Important to the United States?,” CFR.org


James Lin, “Taiwan Shouldn’t Be Used as a Geopolitical Pawn,” Jacobin



Read More


Chong Ja Ian, “The Many ‘One Chinas’: Multiple Approaches to Taiwan and China,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Hal Brands, “Economic Chaos of a Taiwan War Would Go Well Past Semiconductors,” Bloomberg


Reva Goujon, Agatha Kratz, and Charlie Vest, “The Global Economic Disruptions from a Taiwan Conflict,” Rhodium Group


Shelley Rigger, Lev Nachman, Chit Wai John Mok, and Nathan Kar Ming Chan, “Why Is Unification so Unpopular in Taiwan? It’s the PRC Political System, Not Just Culture,” Brookings Institution



Watch and Listen


China’s Threat to Taiwan, With Oriana Skylar Mastro,” The President’s Inbox


Richard C. Bush, Ryan Hass, and David Dollar, “How Serious Is the Risk of War Over Taiwan?,” Dollar & Sense

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