Allison: Taiwan Could Be Flash Point in U.S.-China Relations

United Daily News, January 24, 2021


Graham Allison, a core strategist of President Joe Biden of the United States, said in an exclusive interview with TVBS that Taiwan is a flashpoint that worries him most. Accidents, incidents, and even provocations that occur in Taiwan will set off a spiral of reactions. That could end up dragging the United States and China into a catastrophic war. Therefore, in terms of future U.S.-China relations, war and peace will be among the major issues.


When asked what important issues could redefine U.S.-China relations in the next four years, Allison said that apart from the Taiwan flash point which worries him most, other issues include climate and trade. President Biden is aware that China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and the United States ranks second. Unless the two countries work together to constrain it, neither will be able to live in this climate in 50 years.


In terms of trade, Allison reasoned that President Biden understands that China is now the second backbone of the global economy and that other economies cannot cut themselves off with China. The previous administration of President Donald Trump attempted to build a so-called new economic iron curtain. That is not going to happen. Japan and South Korea’s largest trading partner is China, and Australia’s largest trading partner is also China. He believes that dealing with bilateral trade issues to achieve a level playing field and constraining unacceptable behaviors of China will be another major challenge for Biden.


As for the trade war between the United States and China, Allison stated that the bilateral trade imbalance has increased during the Trump administration. Mr. Trump’s prescriptions for solving the trade imbalance are useless. The trade deficit itself is not a significant concern. Intellectual property theft is the focus of concern. Protectionism and fostering specific industries are not beneficial to the United States and the world. This is the real problem. The United States has been at the top of all communities for hundreds of years. The competition between the United States and China in the field of technology will become more intense. This will be a very interesting and complex issue for Taiwan because Taiwan has semiconductors and other industries.


Regarding whether the United States will play the Taiwan card in the future, Allison said that this issue is extremely complicated. He believes that the deepening of U.S.-Taiwan relations is a good thing. At the same time, President Biden also understands that there is only one China and there is no ambiguity about one China. There is no independent country called Taiwan. The United States will not recognize an independent Taiwan. Taiwan’s aspirations today are incompatible with Beijing. This issue cannot be solved but can be managed. Biden once served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He understands this issue. The challenge for Biden is to come up with a new cross-strait formula. According to Allison, "One Country, Two Systems" has come to an end.


Allison has provided foreign policy advises to Mr. Biden for decades. He is currently Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has taught at Harvard for more than 50 years. He is also an expert in the field of defense policy. Served as Assistant Secretary of Defense in the first administration of President Bill Clinton. His research areas include nuclear weapons and China issues.



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