As Taiwan tensions grow, US and China seek right decibel

WASHINGTON: As tensions flare over Taiwan, China and the United States are both trying to lay down firm markers. A crucial question is whether the nuclear-armed powers know what level of pressure is just right.Among the slew of disputes between the world's two largest economies, Taiwan is often seen as the only one that could bring hot conflict as Beijing considers the self-ruling US-aligned democracy a province awaiting reunification. This month, a record number of Chinese airplanes have entered the air defense zone of Taiwan, whose defense minister warned that Beijing would be able to launch a full-scale invasion in 2025. US allies have meanwhile stepped up, with Japan resolutely backing Taiwan, including its bid to join a regional trade pact, and Australia entering the new three-way AUKUS partnership with the United States and Britain widely viewed as a response to a rising China. Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at Stanford University and the American Enterprise Institute, said that Beijing's flights were less about preparing a near-term invasion than simply sending a message. "This is to tell Taiwan that no one can help them," she said. "Moves like AUKUS or Japan's statements on Taiwan - none of this is going to change their strategic calculus." The United States switched recognition in 1979 to Beijing but is required by Congress to provide weapons for Taiwan's self-defense. The arrangement has largely preserved the peace even if it annoys Beijing. The risk of miscalculation was recently laid bare by the top US general, Mark Milley, who testified that he called his Chinese counterpart to make clear that former president Donald Trump did not intend to attack during his turbulent final months in office.

As Taiwan tensions grow, US and China seek right decibel

WASHINGTON: As tensions flare over Taiwan, China and the United States are both trying to lay down firm markers. A crucial question is whether the nuclear-armed powers know what level of pressure is just right.

Among the slew of disputes between the world's two largest economies, Taiwan is often seen as the only one that could bring hot conflict as Beijing considers the self-ruling US-aligned democracy a province awaiting reunification.

This month, a record number of Chinese airplanes have entered the air defense zone of Taiwan, whose defense minister warned that Beijing would be able to launch a full-scale invasion in 2025.

US allies have meanwhile stepped up, with Japan resolutely backing Taiwan, including its bid to join a regional trade pact, and Australia entering the new three-way AUKUS partnership with the United States and Britain widely viewed as a response to a rising China.

Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at Stanford University and the American Enterprise Institute, said that Beijing's flights were less about preparing a near-term invasion than simply sending a message.

"This is to tell Taiwan that no one can help them," she said. "Moves like AUKUS or Japan's statements on Taiwan - none of this is going to change their strategic calculus."

The United States switched recognition in 1979 to Beijing but is required by Congress to provide weapons for Taiwan's self-defense. The arrangement has largely preserved the peace even if it annoys Beijing.

The risk of miscalculation was recently laid bare by the top US general, Mark Milley, who testified that he called his Chinese counterpart to make clear that former president Donald Trump did not intend to attack during his turbulent final months in office.