Consequences of Conquest

Of all the intractable issues that could spark a hot war between the United States and China, Taiwan is at the very top of the list. And the potential geopolitical consequences of such a war would be profound. Taiwan—“an unsinkable aircraft carrier and submarine tender,” as U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur once described it—has important, often underappreciated military value as a gateway to the Philippine Sea, a vital theater for defending Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea from possible Chinese coercion or attack. There is no guarantee that China would win a war for the island—or that such a conflict wouldn’t drag on for years and weaken China. But if Beijing gained control of Taiwan and based military assets there, China’s military position would improve markedly.


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