While a PLA assault arguably remains a less likely scenario than continued coercion, Taiwan and its partners must, as discussed earlier, prepare against such an eventuality. More importantly, every effort should be made to reduce the risk that China will resort to force. This can only be accomplished through greater investment in Taiwan’s military deterrence through the acquisition and development of a layered defence, a counterforce capability, training, and mobilization, and an active campaign to raise public awareness and boost morale within the military. Additionally, a unified position by the international community that makes it clear to Beijing that an attack against Taiwan would result in retaliatory action—a combination of cyber attacks, sanctions, and an economic embargo that would cripple the Chinese economy, must be elaborated. A concerted warning of this sort, however, can only occur if the international community recognizes the highly destabilizing effects that an invasion of Taiwan would have on the region, and agrees that Taiwan, rather than being an internal matter for China, is in fact a frontline in an emerging clash of ideologies with global implications.
J. Michael Cole is a Taipei-based senior fellow with the Global Taiwan Institute in Washington, D.C., the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, Canada, and the Taiwan Studies Programme at the University of Nottingham, U.K. He is a former analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in Ottawa. His latest book, Insidious Power: How China Undermines Global Democracy, co-edited with Dr. Hsu Szu-chien, was published in July.