The challenges of the United States’ Afghan withdrawal have caused many to question Washington’s commitments to its allies and others who have found themselves under the American security blanket. The issue of US commitment to Taiwan in particular is one I have been asked in recent weeks.
Putting aside the issue that disentangling from Afghanistan and the Middle East means that the US can focus even more on China, Taiwan itself is no slouch. Chinese ambitions must be evaluated against Chinese and Taiwanese and Japanese capabilities. In short, the idea that the US is the only power interested in a free and democratic Taiwan is laughable, as is the assumption that the Chinese would have an easy time in sailing a fleet across the strait absorbing Taiwan.
Even if China did manage to successfully invade Taiwan, there’s little reason to assume Beijing would be able to effectively take control and replicate Taipei’s success in managing the world’s most advanced chip manufacturing. Most of the design process for the chips happens outside Taiwan (such as in the US), and Taiwan’s workers are highly skilled individuals. Not the sort of people who perform at their best at the other end of a gun (or the type that stick around and wait to get captured).
In short, of all the possible unintended consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a successful Chinese invasion of Taiwan is not very high on my list.
[And please forgive the wind; the side of a volcano is an exciting, albeit noisy, backdrop.]