Taiwan Foreign Minister Calls U.S. Help Critical to Deterring War with China
25 February 2022
Wu said domestic problems could also force Beijing’s hand if it needed to unite China against a common enemy. “We also need to watch out for this classical theory about authoritarian countries. They like to divert domestic attention by initiating external conflict. If something is happening in China, inside their country, for example, economic slowdown, unemployment, or major disasters, things like that, that might be the time that we need to watch very carefully,” he said.
In the meantime, Taiwan continues to face Chinese efforts to sway public opinion and destroy morale from within Taiwan by convincing civilians “democracy is doomed.” Tactics have included more than 1,000 Chinese People’s Liberation Army air sorties toward Taiwan last year, Wu said, as well as disinformation campaigns and political infiltration.
Wu said these tactics are “below the thresholds of a military conflict” but still require Taiwan and allies such as the United States to keep pushing back.
Events like Wu’s talk at the McCain Institute are part of Taiwan’s greater public relations strategy to remain a central concern for both the U.S. government and the U.S. public, said Kitsch Liao Yen-fan, a cyber and military affairs consultant at the Taiwanese civil society group Doublethink Lab.
Liao said this was a particular concern for Taiwan after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, as the U.S. public may not want to see its military send troops to another foreign conflict. While the United States is not formally committed to defending Taiwan if it were attacked, under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act it has pledged to help it defend itself.
Whether this would ever extend to sending U.S. personnel to Taiwan in a wartime scenario, however, is still a topic of debate — and a decision that Taipei hopes to influence.
Talks like those by Wu, however, “create sufficient momentum to tip public opinion on Taiwan’s side, and on the political side of the United States to reach a tipping point where the willingness to actually send the military into the next conflict will be reversed again,” said Liao.