New Perspectives on Taiwan's Defense and Foreign Policy Challenges
3: Buttressing Taiwan's "Will to Resist"
Friday, March 25, 2022
11:30am – 1:00pm EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 313A
INDOPACOM JIOC, United States
While academics and analysts alike have wrestled with the question of whether a cross-Strait conflict is increasingly likely in the near-to-medium term, scholars have yet to adequately consider Taiwan’s “will to resist” an invasion and occupation. The paper begins by reflecting briefly upon how Taiwan’s democratic consolidation as well as the policies of Communist Party of China General Secretary Xi Jinping have both influenced Taiwanese attitudes toward national and ethnic identity in recent years. It also notes the dramatic discursive shift on cross-Strait security from Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou to President Tsai Ing-wen and highlights Tsai's defense reforms, including the prioritization of asymmetric combat capabilities, indigenous arms development, and reserve force reform. Various academic surveys in Taiwan track changes in popular sentiment toward sovereignty and national security issues, to include public trust in defense capabilities; a willingness to accept civilian and military casualties; and the popular will to confront coercion. Such survey work will inform a discussion of how to further buttress Taiwan’s political and public will to resist. The culminating portion of the paper will consider U.S.-Taiwan bilateral mechanisms to counter a range of PRC influence operations as well as whether a shift from “strategic ambiguity” to conditional “strategic clarity” will positively affect Taiwan’s will to resist an invasion and occupation.