Source Epoch Times

NEW YORK, US: Lawmakers and policy analysts continue to prepare for a potential conflict with China over the island nation of Taiwan, but defense policy analyst Justin Logan believes that the conventional wisdom in Washington is not focusing on the right policies to dissuade Chinese aggression.
Logan, who is the director of defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian-oriented CATO Institute, warned that while many in Washington focus on matching U.S. military capabilities and spending levels against those in China, they should also encourage Taiwan to do more to harden its defenses.
“Certainly, Taiwan should be thinking very carefully and in detailed fashion about what sorts of things they need to do to make it look like a less appealing prospect for [Chinese leader Xi Jinping] to attack,” Logan said in an interview with NTD’s “Capitol Report” on Thursday.
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, the Chinese communist regime insists the island is part of its territory. Chinese Communist Party officials, including Xi, have repeatedly insisted there will be a “reunification” between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.
The Taiwanese elections on Jan. 13 could impact relations between Taiwan and China, though Logan cautioned against oversimplifying the election contest by casting Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT) party as soft on China, and Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as much more on-guard against China.
“We’ve seen pretty consistently Taiwan’s defense spending hover around or under 2 percent of GDP, close to 1 percent of GDP,” Logan said.
“So I think there’s been a sense that, to oversimplify, people in Washington sometimes say, ‘Well, the KMT is soft on China, and historically, the DPP—or now the coalition—has had a more tough-on-China posture.’ But I think for the things that matter, from the U.S. point of view, there’s been continuity.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen, who is a DPP member, has pursued defense spending increases throughout her time in office since 2016. Last summer, the Tsai administration proposed increasing the 2024 defense spending level to approximately 2.5 percent of Taiwan’s GDP.
The KMT’s policy platform states the party aims to improve cross-strait relations with China but work to deter military aggression from the mainland. Acting Taipei Mayor and KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih has also said he would support keeping Taiwan’s defense spending at 2.5 percent or even 3 percent of its GDP.
Ukraine Invasion Not Comparable to Taiwan: Logan
In calling for U.S. policymakers to reread the China–Taiwan situation, Logan also cautioned against linking a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I think there’s been a real misreading in Washington of the relationship between the war in Ukraine to Taiwan and China more generally. The conventional wisdom seems to be that China is watching what happens in Ukraine, and if Ukraine does not win its war against Russia, that China will infer that it has a more likely ability to make a play at Taiwan,” Logan said. “I think that’s basically wrong for a couple of reasons.”
On a basic level, Logan said, China attempting to send a landing force across the Taiwan Strait and to secure a beachhead on the island poses a different challenge than Russian invasion forces crossing over their western land border to attack Ukraine.
Logan also insisted that rather than looking to the war in Ukraine as a way to gauge how the United States will respond to an invasion of Taiwan, the Chinese regime may actually simply welcome the U.S. support for the Ukrainian side as a distraction and drain on resources that could be used to bolster Taiwan’s defenses.
“If I were Xi Jinping, I would be very happy with the United States [being] bogged down in a conflict in Europe, senior policymaker’s attention focused monomaniacally on Europe, and not paying so much attention to Taiwan or China itself,” he said. “So I think the consensus view in Washington that we need to make sure Ukraine beats Russia so that China won’t attack Taiwan is fundamentally wrong. I think China is very happy having the United States laser-focused on Ukraine and not looking so closely at China.”
Logan Urges Against Ending With Strategic Ambiguity
The U.S. government has long maintained a position of “strategic ambiguity” with regard to the sovereignty dispute across the Taiwan Strait, simultaneously avoiding clearly recognizing Taiwanese independence but continuing to carry on informal relations with Taiwanese counterparts. The United States has also supplied weapons to Taiwan, but has not definitively committed to intervene on Taiwan’s behalf if it is invaded by China.
Logan said there are fair criticisms of the U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity, and the policy can lead to some confusion, as in repeated instances where President Joe Biden has said the United States is committed to defending Taiwan only for the White House to later clarify that he was not communicating any real change in U.S. policy. 
Still, Logan said the ambiguous U.S. policy toward Taiwan is useful for keeping Taiwan committed to its own defensive efforts and for dissuading China from making any decision to attack.
“I think the idea of getting rid of that is probably a mistake because we need to make abundantly clear to Taiwan that no matter the level of U.S. effort dedicated to Taiwan, there are certain things militarily that Taiwan has to do that it is not doing effectively to deter a Chinese attack,” he said. 
“And on the other hand, I think there is a nonzero risk that if we were to do away with the strategic ambiguity policy, China might initially initiate an attack at that moment.”
He said the No. 1 policy the United States should pursue to deter a conflict over Taiwan is to convince the Taiwanese side to significantly commit to its own defense.
“No matter what the United States itself wanted to do for Taiwan, if Taiwan were to mess up badly enough in the first three, four, or five days of a conflict, no amount of U.S. effort could conceivably bail it out. And the conflict could be over before the United States even got into it,” he said.