In the latest China Matters Explores policy brief, I argue outright war across the Taiwan Strait is highly unlikely. Rather, the PRC is likely to use ‘all means short of war’ to achieve the paramount goal of unification. A PRC pressure campaign to force Taiwan to negotiate unification would entail a mix of tactics including economic pressure, cyberattacks and covert actions. The United States and others, including Australia, would find it extremely hard to counter these moves. No individual action by the PRC would warrant a military response.
Australian decision makers need to make every effort to understand the complexities of the standoff over the unresolved political status of Taiwan. They will have to make difficult and rapid decisions about Australia’s responses in an ‘all means short of war’ scenario . Canberra must decide how important is Taiwan as an independent entity. Is Canberra willing to suffer retaliatory measures far greater than the current ones being meted out today by the PRC?