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Envisioning S Korea’s role in a Taiwan war

The Taiwan Strait is a region where China’s core interests sharply conflict with those of the United States. Previous crises in the Taiwan Strait have never been without danger, but ultimately US military power made China retreat.

The growing military power of China tells us the next Taiwan crisis will be different. The United States and its South Korean ally need to be fully aware of that and plan accordingly.

The US does not want a military conflict in Taiwan in the near future. China, having declared its goal to become a “fully developed, rich, and powerful” nation and a “superpower” by 2049, will also avoid unnecessary conflicts.

However, China’s perceived “window of opportunity” may differ from our calculations. Moreover, in a heightened military posture, the crisis can escalate at any time.

US preparations: strategy and posture

Whether the US has achieved the posture to deter China thus has become a crucial issue. The geography of Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region, surrounded by sea and relatively distant for the US, poses a significant challenge.

As the crisis escalates, it can be divided into stages. In peacetime, military campaigning will prevent China from taking provocative actions or crossing the threshold. Especially as China attempts to freely use the gray zone, including cyber and space domains, maintaining superiority is essential for deterrence.

If the Chinese military can inflict significant damage or advance to Taiwan’s main island, benefits have to be denied and costs imposed.

Finally, should the conflict escalate, a counterstrike against China will proceed. While attacks on the Chinese mainland will be restrained, combined operations capable of paralyzing Chinese command and control can be