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The Munk Debates: S02 #19 – Defence of Taiwan – there is no credible military defence of Taiwan in the face of Chinese aggression


Debaters: Oriana Skylar Mastro, Michael Beckley

April 02,2021

China’s takeover of Hong Kong, and its increasingly aggressive military manoeuvres in the South China Sea have many wondering whether Taiwan is the country’s next “reunification” target. While politicians debate whether it’s in the West’s interest to step in, strategists say the more pertinent question is whether a military defence of Taiwan is even possible. China now boasts the world’s largest army, conventional air force, coast guard, and navy. These vast military resources provide Beijing with the capacity to overwhelm Taiwan through a combined amphibious assault using nuclear attack submarines, destroyers, and aircraft carriers, and an airborne assault using strategic stealth bombers, fighters, and helicopters. Some experts argue that it is wishful to think that the US can defend Taiwan militarily from half a world away unless there is a radical reset of American military strategy and posture towards China. MORE AT LINK



Oriana Skylar Mastro is a Center Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University where her research focuses on Chinese military and security policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, war termination, and coercive diplomacy. She is also non-resident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and continues to serve in the United States Air Force Reserve for which she works as a strategic planner at INDOPACOM. For her contributions to U.S. strategy in Asia, she won the Individual Reservist of the Year Award in 2016. She has published widely, including in Foreign Affairs, International Security, International Studies Review, Journal of Strategic Studies, The Washington Quarterly, The National Interest, Survival, and Asian Security.Her book, The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime, (Cornell University Press, 2019), won the 2020 American Political Science Association International Security Section Best Book by an Untenured Faculty Member.She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University.


EMichael Beckley is Associate Professor of political science at Tufts University and Jeane Kirkpatrick Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His research on China’s rise has received “best article of the year awards” from the American Political Science Association and the International Studies Association and been featured by numerous media including the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, NPR, and the Washington Post. Previously, Michael worked for Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the U.S. Department of Defense, the RAND Corporation, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He regularly advises offices within the U.S. Intelligence Community and U.S. Department of Defense, Including the National Intelligence Council, the Defense Science Board, and the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. Michael holds a PhD in political science from Columbia University. His first book, Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, was recently published by Cornell University Press.

About Munk Debates

We are the world’s first podcast dedicated to convening one-on-one debates between today’s biggest thinkers and sharpest minds. Our mission is to create space for civil and substantive debates on the big issues of the day – free of spin, focused on facts and animated by smart conversation. Join us each week for a fresh take on the complex, controversial and compelling debates of our time.

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