The US Department of Defense has outlined six scenarios that could prompt China to take large-scale military action against Taiwan.
The information was included in the Pentagon’s new report titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.
According to the defense department, a formal declaration of independence by the self-ruled island could trigger China to carry out an all-out war.
Even an undefined move toward Taiwan’s independence could reportedly anger China and result in a major conflict.
Although China views Taipei as its territory, it is worth noting that the bigger nation has never really governed its neighbor. The closest was under the Qing dynasty, where it took nominal control of the smaller country.
Furthermore, internal unrest within Taiwan could also fuel Beijing to interfere militarily, the report stated.
Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Military Intervention
China will potentially attack Taiwan if the latter procures nuclear weapons or launches a program to produce one, according to the Pentagon report.
The island nation is not believed to have nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, though it had a nuclear weapons program in the 1960s.
The other two possible catalysts of an armed conflict would be indefinite delays in the resumption of cross-strait dialogue on unification and foreign military intervention in the country’s internal affairs.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has signified that unifying his country with Taipei is a necessary and inevitable step toward the “rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation.”
He also issued a stern warning against interference by “outside forces” on the issue of Taiwan, saying Beijing would take all necessary measures against them.
“We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort,” Xi said. “But we will never promise to renounce the use of force. And we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”
Earlier this year, a poll released by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed that almost half of Taiwanese citizens want their country to declare formal national independence.
Only 26.9 percent said they wanted to maintain the status quo, while 11.8 percent wanted to unify with China.
In the US, 38 percent of the public said they would support the deployment of troops to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, while 42 percent opposed.