Gideon Rahman: Can the United States continue to implement its "strategic ambiguity" policy toward Taiwan?

2021-10-14: [Article Link]. [Guide] With the increasingly tense situation in the Taiwan Strait, the British Financial Times columnist Rahman wrote an article commenting on the current "strategic ambiguity" policy towards Taiwan that the United States has come to an end. In the article, he also speculates on the ideas and possible practices of the Chinese government, and commented on Chinese folk sentiments. The personal views of these authors are not recognized by the Observer Network. This month, in just four days, the Chinese Air Force sent about 150 fighters to Taiwan's air defense identification zone-a record number of aircraft that has caused the Taiwan air force to be exhausted. At the same time, the United States, as well as five other countries including Japan and the United Kingdom, also held the largest naval exercise in the Western Pacific in recent decades. Accompanied by this show muscle is the tit-for-tat confrontation between the two sides. In his speech last weekend, Chinese leaders promised that "the historical task of complete reunification of the motherland will surely be realized." He stressed that he hopes to take over Taiwan in a peaceful manner. However, it is simply a fantasy to allow Taiwan to surrender voluntarily, so the remaining option is to use force. Earlier, the CIA just announced the establishment of a new "China Mission Center", which called China "the most serious geopolitical threat we faced in the 21st century". Its most pressing issue will be to assess Beijing's intentions for Taiwan. Qiu Guozheng, head of Taiwan's defense department, warned last week that China will have the ability to attack Taiwan in 2025, saying that the current situation is the most severe in 40 years. The public sentiment in China and the United States also seems to be becoming more and more belligerent, which will affect the decision-making of the leaders of the two countries. China's blockbuster "Changjin Lake" (which tells the story of China's defeat of the United States in the Korean War) reflects the nationalist sentiments of the Chinese, and that sentiment is increasingly being directed at the United States. In the United States, 67% respondents have a negative view of China, higher than 46% in 2018. Another poll conducted in August showed that for the first time, more than half of Americans (52%) were in favor of using US troops to defend Taiwan when China invaded Taiwan. Considering the huge risk of triggering World War III, the results of this survey are shocking. The Biden team believes that China is determined to replace the United States as the world's outstanding economic and military power, and the Biden team is determined to fight back. They understand that much of the fight will be about trade and technology. But they also know that China's successful invasion of Taiwan will mark the complete end of the era when the United States dominated the Indo-Pacific region. Will the United States go to war to prevent this from happening? In short, no one really knows. The Chinese and US military staff responsible for the careful formulation of the Taiwan Strait conflict plan do not know. Even Joe Biden, the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces, may not know. The answer to this question depends to a large extent on the nature of the attack-and the political situation at home and abroad at the time of the incident. Both the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the European crisis of July 1914 have shown that, under the pressure of rapid evolution, wars and decisions that shocked the world are often made in a surprisingly casual way. In fact, maintaining a state of uncertainty is a decision made by the United States after careful consideration, which is called "strategic ambiguity". This strategy is to prevent China from attacking Taiwan by suggesting that the United States may defend Taiwan, but the United States will not give clear security guarantees in case this guarantee itself will trigger a military showdown. The strategic ambiguity strategy has helped the United States maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait for two generations. But Washington is concerned that Beijing's calculations are changing. Senior US officials believe that the Chinese leadership has been convinced that the United States is in decline and that the embarrassing withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is the latest evidence. Last week, Biden's national security adviser, Jack Sullivan, warned that other countries would want to draw a big lesson from the U.S. decision to withdraw, then they could make a "serious mistake". Sullivan's remarks reflect the anxiety of the United States, which is afraid that an increasingly confident China may rule out the possibility that the United States will go to war for Taiwan, or decide to win a local war with a quick assault. The leaked US war chess deduction report shows that China is likely to win the battle in the Taiwan Strait. Obviously, Beijing will definitely take note of this report. In order to make it more difficult for the United States to reach a consensus in order to intervene in the Taiwan Strait, China may choose to use a "gray area" and choose not to invade Taiwan across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. These "gray zone" approaches may include maritime blockades, or deployment of special forces to disrupt Taiwan's infrastructure or seize power. In other words, China is adopting its own version of the "strategic ambiguity" strategy for the Taiwan region-constantly reiterating its intention to wage war, leaving Washington and Taipei to guess how and when the war broke out. In fact, China has so far rejected the US proposal and refused to establish a military hotline to resolve possible future conflicts. This shows that the Chinese government intends to keep the United States suspicious. (Observer Network Note: The Sino-US military hotline was opened as early as April 17, 2008. But as Qin Gang, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time, said: "Whether it is a 'hotline' or a 'cold line', the key is to have a hotline in your mind. With a hotline, if there is still a 'Cold War' in my mind, such a hotline will not work." The main responsibility for the interruption of the Sino-US military hotline is the US side's deterioration of Sino-US relations.) As China and the United States intimidate each other and try to scare each other away, both countries increasingly feel that they are playing a potentially deadly poker game on the Taiwan issue. The policy of strategic ambiguity has maintained peace in the Taiwan Strait for decades. But a dangerous "bright bottom" moment may be on the horizon.

Note: This is auto-translated version of a Chinese domestic news media article. A mature and nuanced reading is suggested.