Asahi Shimbun: INTERVIEW/ U.S. needs ‘denial defense’ to thwart Chinese action in Taiwan

Q: Regarding the Taiwan issue, I’ve heard that, in an analysis, the Xi administration predicts that the United States would not intervene in a Taiwan crisis to avoid a full-scale war. What is your take on that?

A: I think that’s a very grave mistake if that’s the way that the Chinese leadership is thinking about it. I think the U.S. policy has been reiterated a number of times in this administration. If anything, it’s become clearer. … The United States is opposed to the use of force to settle the issue of Taiwan as reflected in the Taiwan Relations Act.

And I think there is a great deal of sympathy for the people in Taiwan within the administration and certainly on Capitol Hill ….

But I think China would be grossly mistaken if they thought that the use of force against … Taiwan would not carry a very, very strong probability of a U.S. military response.

The United States has contemplated that for a long time. If you look at, for instance, the Rand Corporation’s work, you can see that the United States thinks a lot about military scenarios regarding Taiwan.

So the critical thing is to try to conduct what I call an effective “denial defense,” which is essentially to deny the People’s Republic the ability to seize Taiwan in a fait accompli, in particular.

We also need to worry about … the possibility of a PLA blockade or bombardment strategy. But I think (for) the PLA, the most attractive approach is … a complete quick seizure of Taiwan, and they would hope that the government of (Taiwan) would collapse and surrender.

What the United States is already shifting towards in the National Defense Strategy (NDS) is this kind of denial defense, which is designed to have lethal and resilient forces without the kind of dominance that the U.S. military has enjoyed since Desert Storm.

Instead of the situation, say in Desert Storm, where there’s this very methodical buildup, and only then do we launch to first establish air supremacy and only then contest the political objectives on the ground, our forces (are) moving in the direction of being able to hit the attacker, even without that kind of supremacy or taking down their air defense systems and so forth.

If you look at the way our forces are moving, they’re being prepared to operate forward or get forward in a more survivable fashion and reach out and strike, even without that degree of dominance. So, you won’t see something like a six- month preparation and only then attack. You’ll see our forces hopefully contesting the attack from the beginning and then over time surging, more capabilities.

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