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Issues & Insights Vol. 23, SR2 – The World After Taiwan’s Fall

  • David Santoro

    President & CEO at Pacific Forum

  • Ralph Cossa

    President Emeritus & WSD-Handa Chair in Peace Studies at Pacific Forum

  • Ian Easton

    Senior Director at the Project 2049

  • Malcolm Davis

    Senior Analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute

  • Matake Kamiya

    Professor of International Relations at the National Defense Academy of Japan

  • Duyeon Kim

    Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security

  • Jabin T. Jacob

    Associate Professor at the Shiv Nadar University and Adjunct Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation

  • Bruno Tertrais

    Deputy Director of the Fondation pour la recherche strategique and an Advisor for Geopolitics at the Institut Montaigne


The World After Taiwan’s Fall


Let us start with our bottom line: a failure of the United States to come to Taiwan’s aid—politically, economically, and militarily—would devastate the Unites States’ credibility and defense commitments to its allies and partners, not just in Asia, but globally. If the United States tries but fails to prevent a Chinese takeover of Taiwan, the impact could be equally devastating unless there is a concentrated, coordinated U.S. attempt with likeminded allies and partners to halt further Chinese aggression and eventually roll back Beijing’s ill-gotten gains.

This is not a hypothetical assessment. Taiwan has been increasingly under the threat of a military takeover by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and, even today, is under attack politically, economically, psychologically, and through so-called “gray zone” military actions short of actual combat. The U.S. government, U.S. allies, and others have begun to pay attention to this problem, yet to this day, they have not sufficiently appreciated the strategic implications that such a takeover would generate. To address this problem, the Pacific Forum has conducted a multi-authored study to raise awareness in Washington, key allied capitals, and beyond about the consequences of a Chinese victory in a war over Taiwan and, more importantly, to drive them to take appropriate action to prevent it.

The study, which provides six national perspectives on this question (a U.S., Australian, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and European perspective) and fed its findings and recommendations into the second round of the DTRA SI-STT-sponsored (and Pacific Forum-run) Track 2 “U.S.-Taiwan Deterrence and Defense Dialogue,”[1] outlines these strategic implications in two alternative scenarios. In the first scenario, China attacks Taiwan and it falls with no outside assistance from the United States or others. In the other scenario, Taiwan falls to China despite outside assistance (i.e., “a too little, too late” scenario).

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Table of Contents

Introduction | David Santoro & Ralph Cossa
Chapter 1. If Taiwan Falls: Future Scenarios and Implications for the United States | Ian Easton
Chapter 2.Chinese Victory over Taiwan – An Australian Perspective | Malcolm Davis
Chapter 3.China’s Takeover of Taiwan Would Have a Negative Impact on Japan | Matake Kamiya
Chapter 4. If Taiwan Falls to China: Implications for the Korean Peninsula |
Duyeon Kim

Chapter 5.The Implications for India of a Successful Chinese Invasion of Taiwan | Jabin T. Jacob
Chapter 6.The Consequences for Europe of a Successful Chinese Invasion of Taiwan | Bruno Tertrais
Conclusions | David Santoro & Ralph Cossa