Project Aims & Activities
In May 2020, China Matters completed a 15-month long special project entitled “Escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait – why it matters to Australia and how to prepare”. The project, led by Founding Director Linda Jakobson, was supported by the Department of Defence’s Strategic Policy Grants Program (SPGP).
As part of the project, China Matters conducted research and consultations in Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Australia and the United States (US) to deliver a report addressing:
- The changing cross-Strait status quo that is being driven by the rise of a distinct Taiwanese identity, an empowered PRC more determined than ever to achieve reunification, and a US administration taking unprecedented steps to normalise Taiwan’s international engagement;
- The implications of Taiwan’s unresolved political status for regional security and Australia; and
- The policy options available to Australia to contribute to stability in the Taiwan Straits.
The report explains the views of both elites and the government in Taiwan, the PRC, the US and Japan to equip Australian policy-makers with a multi-dimensional and nuanced understanding of a complex issue.
The project also delivered small-scale workshops in Taipei and Canberra, and concluded with a presentation of key findings to the Department of Defence.
Jakobson argues that a military attack on Taiwan is not the most likely route the PRC will choose to achieve unification. Rather, the more probable scenario is a strategy of ‘all means short of war’, in which the PRC would attempt to force Taiwan to the negotiation table through a mix of pressure tactics including military intimidation, dissemination operations, cyberattacks and covert actions.
Bush outlines the evolution of PRC cross-Strait policy from economic and diplomatic persuasion to a mix of intimidation and pressure short of military conflict, as well as describing the internal political challenges to a consistent, unified response from Taiwan.
Taylor argues that Australia should advocate for more robust crisis management mechanisms to deal with the increasingly precarious Taiwan situation which threatens to grow into a major crisis.