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PacNet #37 – Trading away Taiwan is no bargain for the USA

The argument that Washington should abandon support for Taiwan to gain favor with Beijing faces strong counter-arguments that have prevailed in policy-making up to now. George Washington University professor Charles L. Glaser presents a fresh reboot of the idea in the spring 2015 issue of the journal International Security. Glaser says protecting Asia-Pacific allies is a vital US interest, but protecting Taiwan is not. Yet Taiwan is the main cause of Chinese opposition to US strategic leadership in the region. Meanwhile, tensions between China and rival claimants over disputed territory in the East and South China Seas threatens to spark military conflict, and foreign governments wish for more clarity in Beijing’s longer-term strategic intentions – specifically, whether it is a “greedy state” that seeks to replace the United States as regional hegemon. Glaser proposes solving all of these problems through a Sino-US “grand bargain”: the United States government “ends its commitment to defend Taiwan” in exchange for Beijing’s promise to “peacefully resolve” its maritime territorial disputes and “officially accept the United States’ long-term military security role in East Asia.”