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How Can the US Negotiate to Protect Taiwan from China?

As it relates to Taiwan and China, we are committed to protecting the security and supporting the security of the people of Taiwan… if China is making efforts toward Taiwan because of what they see happening in Ukraine, these are two different types of situations. - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Our firepower covers all of Taiwan, and we can strike wherever we want. We got really close to Taiwan. We encircled Taiwan. And we demonstrated that we can effectively stop intervention by foreign forces. - Zhang Junshe, Researcher at the PLA (People's Liberation Army) Navy Research Institute, August, 2022, in response to the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit.


During the Summer of 2022, China (formally known as the People's Republic of China-PRC) conducted a week-long series of military drills over and around the de facto independent country of Taiwan (formally known as the Republic of China-ROC). These comprehensive and coordinated drills involved all of the different branches of its armed services, featuring fighter and bomber sorties, along with naval maneuvers, launching missiles over Taiwan.

China Central Television aired footage of the drills in its evening newscase, showing jet fighters and strategic bombers, the latter armed with air-to-surface missiles, carrying out what the state broadcaster described as simulated attacks. - Wall Street Journal 8/10/22

This was tantamount to a blockade demonstrating years of military buildup and planning. Clearly this was sending the message that China could militarily take over Taiwan when it wants, maybe in a couple of years.

Beyond the military, Chinese hackers immobilized key government functions via websites.

The United States (US) and allies must recognize that this signified a transition from China’s decades-old policy reunification without war. This is now an era of heightened danger. China, seemingly, has ceased serious diplomacy.

The world, including the United States, must recognize that China, specifically President Xi Jinping, is a “bully.” They have used this bully approach to completely end Hong Kong’s form of government, creating military islands in the Taiwan Strait.

The world must also recognize that China is a nuclear super power.

The US must persuade China that the risk of military aggression, especially against Taiwan, is too risky. The US can do this first by understanding China’s approach and then by preparation and planning in conjunction with most other Western democracies.

Goal? In their mind, maybe specifically Xi Jinping, China wants to restore their country’s influence and power over at least all of Asia, let alone the world.

“Restore” is an interesting term. Does Premier Xi mean the old days of the Qing Dynasty?

In orthodox Chinese historiography, the Qing dynasty was preceded by the Ming dynasty and succeeded by the Republic of China. The multiethnic Qing empire lasted for almost three centuries and assembled the territorial base for modern China. Historians usually consider the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on February 12, 1912 as the end of the Chinese dynastic system. Dynastic rule in China lasted almost four millennia.

This is a bit reminiscent of Russia wanting to be glorious once again with Putin remembering the good old days of the U.S.S.R. Or former US President Donald Trump’s slogan: Make America Great Again (MAGA). In MAGA, one wonders if Trump is harkening back to the Good/Bad ole days of the 1950’s. Is he saying that US is in the decline now?)

World’s Geo-Political Storm: China’s aggression must be seen in the light of the World’s Geo-Political Storm especially Russia’s attack on Ukraine. At this moment, most of the Western Democracies including the US and NATO are united and may spell the success of Ukraine against the super powerful Bully-Russia.

Negotiating with a Bully: To negotiate with a bully, one must start from a position of strength. In this case, this must unite Allies much like they are doing in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Further, US and Allies must spread out their weaponry throughout Asia, rather than having the weapons consolidated at several bases like Okinawa. They must spread our defenses throughout to protect the 120 mile wide (180k) Strait of Taiwan Strait which is part of the South China Sea.

According to Wikipedia, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) founded in 1921 is an intergovernmental organization representing hydrography. As of May 2022 the IHO comprised 98 Member States. A principal aim of the IHO is to ensure that the world's seas, oceans and navigable waters are properly surveyed and charted. IHO classifies the Taiwan Strait as part of South China Sea which is part of the North Pacific Ocean classified as international waters. China PRC claims the Taiwan Strait as “territorial waters.”

Logic, Emotions and Values. China is the most populous country in the world totaling 1.4 billion whereas Taiwan has 24 million. China’s area is 3.705 million versus Taiwan’s 13,976 million. Area-wise, China is the largest country after Russia and Canada and larger than the United States. So, why is China obsessed with Taiwan? Some, like the Premier, believe Taiwan is rightfully theirs. This is an emotional approach, not logical. China may also be apprehensive of the success of democratic Taiwan. China has long alleged that the political style of democracy is not consistent with Asian culture. Taiwan proves otherwise.

The Democracy Matrix rates Taiwan at #26 termed “working democracy” along with Japan and South Korea, even above the United States at #36. The Democracy Matrix now rates China at #172, “hard autocracy” along with Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

Logic may also be used as China measures their military readiness in regards to the number of army, missiles, ships and firepower they deploy.

Values: The emotion of restoring China’s greatness may also be a value.

Emotions of Prime Minister aka Dictator XI: These also need to be in the equation. Seemingly XI wants to stay in power for another decade. He also wants to establish a legacy that might rival than of Mao. Forcibly transforming Hong Kong’s democracy into an autocracy under his power is one step.

How to Manage:

The US and the Western World should recognize that China’s potential aggression is based on emotions and values rather than logic. Some logic may be used in the negotiation, but it may be more effective to respond emotionally and value-wise.

Most nations value peace and harmony so this must be stressed.

Further, since China is a bully, they must be reminded of the consequences of military action-the risks.

Planning and Preparation

The US and the western world must plan and prepare now. China must be aware that if Taiwan is attacked, the US in coordination with South Korea, Japan, Australia, India, New Zealand, India, United Kingdom, France, will all be united in their retaliation.

War Is Not Caused by Happy, Content Nations

One must recall the internal strife within Japan and Germany before World War II. This internal strife can be found in China today. The COVID lockdown crisis is extreme and will have lasting impact including on the Chinese economy. China now seems to be reaping the results of their long-held “one child per family” policy resulting in more older folks than younger folks with a negative impact on the workforce.

Further, according to the Wall Street Journal's Nathaniel Taplin: China has a dysfunctional housing market, high youth unemployment, rising skepticism among Western multinationals and a capricious regulatory environment-increasingly look structural rather than cyclical.

It is noteworthy that according to Global Finance, China is rated at #76 on the rich/poor scale, along with such countries as Mexico and Botswana. The US is rated #9.

China and Xi need to distract its people internationally.

Negotiation Steps:

Clear communicated US goals:

The US should communicate clear goals:

  • Peace and harmony among US, China and Taiwan + US Allies.

  • Cooperation with China on commonalities such as climate.

  • Sustaining Taiwan’s thriving independent democracy.

  • Robust economic competition with China.

Persuasion Law of Verbal Packaging: US and Allies should take note that words and phrases matter. The entire US government needs to transform its thought process and the language used from viewing China as an enemy, putting them in the category of Iran and Russia. Instead, it makes sense to see them as a competitive super power.

Seek commonalities: The US and its allies need to identify commonalities and emphasize them, including health and climate concerns.

Re-examining the strategic ambiguity policy: This was established by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act when the US was militarily super stronger than China’s military. It is often called “The One China Policy.” This seems unrealistic since Taiwan as independent from China has existed for 73 years.

Building and dispersing US and allies’ military weapons: Seemingly, the US military might have deterred China but China has been building its might over the years, including building islands in the South China Sea and even militarizing them.

Continue to vigorously defend Ukraine: China and Taiwan are anxiously watching the US in the defense of Ukraine against the Russian invasion. Thus far, people in Taiwan are becoming more confident of the US support and China may become more wary of actual military action. Experts seem to say that the US is 100 percent in for Ukraine verbally, but 85%, when it comes to action. Actions need to increase.

The US needs to be reminded they are dealing with a bully, Putin, and remember the old saying: "Give an inch; they take a mile." This is exactly what happened with Putin. Putin was allowed to take several inches (Donbas, Crimea, invasion of the country of Georgia) which emboldened him to begin this invasion.

The US must move from disbelief: The US and their allies must move from their disbelief that “bullying countries” such as Russia and China will invade other countries in this post-Cold War era. Instead they should plan for this both militarily and diplomatically.

Wall Street Journal Writer Walter Russell Mead calls the US’s present approach towards China as “erratic and unpredictable” while China’s approach towards Taiwan and the region has become more aggressive

So, the US and Allies should be working hard on preparation, planning, and prevention.

War is still too risky for China?

Maybe a bit comforting is that based on simulations, Taiwan with the assistance of US + Allies could prevail but at a great cost.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has held 18 of 22 planned simulations of a 2026 Chinese attack on Taiwan, one in which the United States devotes its forces to defend the island…The outcome of each game thus far have shown a Pyrrhic victory for the U.S.-led alliance.

Mediation and Negotiation Experts Share Musings and Questions

Attorney Terry Wheeler of Columbus, Ohio. Wheeler also teaches mediation at Capital University School of Law, Columbus, Ohio.

1. A negotiated settlement requires the parties to satisfy enough of their interests … so what are the interests of China and the US? Can a creative solution be found?

2. China has made many public statements about Taiwan – is there a way for China to enter into a negotiated agreement and save face?

3. Can the US appear strong? Or do our internal disputes created by Trump make us look weak to China? Does US public opinion support the US taking a strong stance with China? If so, at what cost? Can China be successful in sowing doubts through social media like Russia was?

Attorney Terry Simonson of Director of Governmental Affairs for Tulsa County, OK

1. More than "how" to negotiate with China will be "who" will negotiate with China. Is there any country or organization which China would respect and see as a neutral?

2. Like many negotiations, both sides have to believe they won something, not just conceded something. What would those be? No party wants to come away feeling like they lost something and yet gained nothing.

3. Parties have to accept change. Fighting for the status quo (which is at the center of the dispute) will not lead to a success.

4. Conflict leads to change and change leads to conflict. Who doesn't understand that?

5. A bully wants to see that the other side is scared. Can't show that. That only empowers them.

6. Can't change history....but you can make history. What's in their historical best interest?


Can the US Deter a Taiwan Invasion? David Glitter, May, 2022.

China is Ratcheting Up Pressure on Taiwan. What will the US do?

Kathrin Hille in Taipei and Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington, AUGUST 5 2022

How to deter China from attacking Taiwan: What Taiwan can learn from Ukraine about resisting invasion. April, 2022.

Taiwan is Becoming More Confident that US Will Defend It. 6/2022


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