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再見了!台灣。(Say Goodbye to Taiwan) (中英對照)

週五 2014年02月28日, 10:40 上午【點此取得本文短網址】

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From the MARCH-APRIL 2014 issue of The National Interest
《國家利益》雜誌 2014 三、四月號

作者:John J. Mearsheimer
2014 年 2 月 25 日

(譯者:Kung-Ming Lin)

WHAT ARE the implications for Taiwan of China’s continued rise? Not today. Not next year. No, the real dilemma Taiwan will confront looms in the decades ahead, when China, whose continued economic growth seems likely although not a sure thing, is far more powerful than it is today.


Contemporary China does not possess significant military power; its military forces are inferior, and not by a small margin, to those of the United States. Beijing would be making a huge mistake to pick a fight with the American military nowadays. China, in other words, is constrained by the present global balance of power, which is clearly stacked in America’s favor.


But power is rarely static. The real question that is often overlooked is what happens in a future world in which the balance of power has shifted sharply against Taiwan and the United States, in which China controls much more relative power than it does today, and in which China is in roughly the same economic and military league as the United States. In essence: a world in which China is much less constrained than it is today. That world may seem forbidding, even ominous, but it is one that may be coming.


It is my firm conviction that the continuing rise of China will have huge consequences for Taiwan, almost all of which will be bad. Not only will China be much more powerful than it is today, but it will also remain deeply committed to making Taiwan part of China. Moreover, China will try to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere, which means it will seek to reduce, if not eliminate, the American military presence in Asia. The United States, of course, will resist mightily, and go to great lengths to contain China’s growing power. The ensuing security competition will not be good for Taiwan, no matter how it turns out in the end. Time is not on Taiwan’s side. Herewith, a guide to what is likely to ensue between the United States, China and Taiwan.


IN AN ideal world, most Taiwanese would like their country to gain de jure independence and become a legitimate sovereign state in the international system. This outcome is especially attractive because a strong Taiwanese identity—separate from a Chinese identity—has blossomed in Taiwan over the past sixty-five years. Many of those people who identify themselves as Taiwanese would like their own nation-state, and they have little interest in being a province of mainland China.


According to National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center, in 1992, 17.6 percent of the people living in Taiwan identified as Taiwanese only. By June 2013, that number was 57.5 percent, a clear majority. Only 3.6 percent of those surveyed identified as Chinese only. Furthermore, the 2011 Taiwan National Security Survey found that if one assumes China would not attack Taiwan if it declared its independence, 80.2 percent of Taiwanese would in fact opt for independence. Another recent poll found that about 80 percent of Taiwanese view Taiwan and China as different countries.

根據國立政治大學選舉研究中心,在 1992 年的調查資料,17.6% 的台灣人民,認為自己是台灣人,而非中國人。到了 2013 年六月,則有 57.5% 的人如此。認為自己是台灣人而非中國人,已是台灣人民的多數。只有 3.6% 認為自己是中國人。另外,2011 年台灣國家安全調查發現,如果台灣獨立不會導致中國武力攻擊,80.2% 的台灣人民將會選擇獨立。另一項最近的調查發現,約有 80% 的台灣人民,認為台灣與中國是不同的兩個國家。

However, Taiwan is not going to gain formal independence in the foreseeable future, mainly because China would not tolerate that outcome. In fact, China has made it clear that it would go to war against Taiwan if the island declares its independence. The antisecession law, which China passed in 2005, says explicitly that “the state shall employ nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures” if Taiwan moves toward de jure independence. It is also worth noting that the United States does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country, and according to President Obama, Washington “fully supports a one-China policy.”

但是,因為中國不容許台灣獨立,在可預見的未來,台灣亦無法取得正式獨立。實際上,中國明確表示,如果台灣宣布獨立,中國必將對台發動戰爭。中國在 2005 年通過的《反分裂國家法》載明中國將以「非和平方式及其他必要措施」對付台灣獨立。另外一提,美國不承認台灣為主權獨立國家。根據歐巴馬的聲明,華盛頓「完全支持一個中國的政策」。

Thus, the best situation Taiwan can hope for in the foreseeable future is maintenance of the status quo, which means de facto independence. In fact, over 90 percent of the Taiwanese surveyed this past June by the Election Study Center favored maintaining the status quo indefinitely or until some later date.

所以,在可預見的未來,台灣能夠期望的最佳情勢是維持現狀,也就是實質獨立。事實上,去年六月選舉研究中心所作的調查顯示,超過 90% 的台灣人民傾向無限期維持現狀,或持續現狀一段時間。

The worst possible outcome is unification with China under terms dictated by Beijing. Of course, unification could happen in a variety of ways, some of which are better than others. Probably the least bad outcome would be one in which Taiwan ended up with considerable autonomy, much like Hong Kong enjoys today. Chinese leaders refer to this solution as “one country, two systems.” Still, it has little appeal to most Taiwanese. As Yuan-kang Wang reports: “An overwhelming majority of Taiwan’s public opposes unification, even under favorable circumstances. If anything, longitudinal data reveal a decline in public support of unification.”

對台灣最壞的情況就是,在北京完全支配的條件下與中國統一。當然,統一的方式也有很多種,有些會比其他方式好。可能比較不那麼糟的情況,是讓台灣保有一些自治權,如同今日香港。中國領導人提出這種方式為「一國兩制」。不過,大多數的台灣人依然不喜歡這種方式。如同 Yuan-kang Wang 的報告:「即使是在有利的條件下,反對統一的台灣人民仍然佔壓倒性多數。資料顯示支持統一者愈來愈少」。

In short, for Taiwan, de facto independence is much preferable to becoming part of China, regardless of what the final political arrangements look like. The critical question for Taiwan, however, is whether it can avoid unification and maintain de facto independence in the face of a rising China.


WHAT ABOUT China? How does it think about Taiwan? Two different logics, one revolving around nationalism and the other around security, shape its views concerning Taiwan. Both logics, however, lead to the same endgame: the unification of China and Taiwan.


The nationalism story is straightforward and uncontroversial. China is deeply committed to making Taiwan part of China. For China’s elites, as well as its public, Taiwan can never become a sovereign state. It is sacred territory that has been part of China since ancient times, but was taken away by the hated Japanese in 1895—when China was weak and vulnerable. It must once again become an integral part of China. As Hu Jintao said in 2007 at the Seventeenth Party Congress: “The two sides of the Straits are bound to be reunified in the course of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

國家主義相當明白、亦無爭議。中國會盡力讓台灣成為中國的一部分。對於中國的精英階層與大眾來說,台灣永遠不能成為主權國家。台灣是中國自古以來神聖而不可分割的領土,卻在 1895 年,中國虛弱之時,被可惡的日本奪走。台灣必須再度成為中國的一部分。胡錦濤於 2007 年第十七次全國代表大會說過:「兩岸統一是中華民族走向偉大復興的歷史必然」。

The unification of China and Taiwan is one of the core elements of Chinese national identity. There is simply no compromising on this issue. Indeed, the legitimacy of the Chinese regime is bound up with making sure Taiwan does not become a sovereign state and that it eventually becomes an integral part of China.


Chinese leaders insist that Taiwan must be brought back into the fold sooner rather than later and that hopefully it can be done peacefully. At the same time, they have made it clear that force is an option if they have no other recourse.


The security story is a different one, and it is inextricably bound up with the rise of China. Specifically, it revolves around a straightforward but profound question: How is China likely to behave in Asia over time, as it grows increasingly powerful? The answer to this question obviously has huge consequences for Taiwan.


The only way to predict how a rising China is likely to behave toward its neighbors as well as the United States is with a theory of great-power politics. The main reason for relying on theory is that we have no facts about the future, because it has not happened yet. Thomas Hobbes put the point well: “The present only has a being in nature; things past have a being in the memory only; but things to come have no being at all.” Thus, we have no choice but to rely on theories to determine what is likely to transpire in world politics.

預測中國崛起之後面對鄰國的行為,只有一種方法。如同美國一樣,只能以強權政治理論看待。仰賴理論預測的原因是,我們無法知道未來的事情,它還沒發生。Thomas Hobbes 明確指出:「現在就只是存在於此;過去只存於記憶之中;未來則根本不存在。」所以,我們別無選擇,只能仰賴理論一窺未來世界政治的趨勢。

My own realist theory of international relations says that the structure of the international system forces countries concerned about their security to compete with each other for power. The ultimate goal of every major state is to maximize its share of world power and eventually dominate the system. In practical terms, this means that the most powerful states seek to establish hegemony in their region of the world, while making sure that no rival great power dominates another region.


To be more specific, the international system has three defining characteristics. First, the main actors are states that operate in anarchy, which simply means that there is no higher authority above them. Second, all great powers have some offensive military capability, which means they have the wherewithal to hurt each other. Third, no state can know the intentions of other states with certainty, especially their future intentions. It is simply impossible, for example, to know what Germany’s or Japan’s intentions will be toward their neighbors in 2025.

明確來說,國際系統有三個特色:第一,主角是不受管束的國家,其上沒有更高權力。第二,所有的強權都有侵略武力,這表示它們都有能力傷害彼此。第三點,沒有任何一個國家能夠確知其他國家的想法,尤其是未來的想法。舉例來說,我們不可能知道 2025 年,德國或日本對於鄰國的想法。

In a world where other states might have malign intentions as well as significant offensive capabilities, states tend to fear each other. That fear is compounded by the fact that in an anarchic system there is no night watchman for states to call if trouble comes knocking at their door. Therefore, states recognize that the best way to survive in such a system is to be as powerful as possible relative to potential rivals. The mightier a state is, the less likely it is that another state will attack it. No Americans, for example, worry that Canada or Mexico will attack the United States, because neither of those countries is strong enough to contemplate a fight with Uncle Sam.


But great powers do not merely strive to be the strongest great power, although that is a welcome outcome. Their ultimate aim is to be the hegemon—which means being the only great power in the system.


What exactly does it mean to be a hegemon in the modern world? It is almost impossible for any state to achieve global hegemony, because it is too hard to sustain power around the globe and project it onto the territory of distant great powers. The best outcome a state can hope for is to be a regional hegemon, to dominate one’s own geographical area. The United States has been a regional hegemon in the Western Hemisphere since about 1900. Although the United States is clearly the most powerful state on the planet today, it is not a global hegemon.

在現代世界之中,霸權是什麼意思?現今任何一個國家都幾乎不可能成為全球霸權,因為要維持支配,並能投射到遠方區域的全球權力,至為困難。一個國家能夠期望的最好結果,是成為區域霸權,支配其所在的地理區域。美國約從 1900 年開始成為西半球的區域霸權。雖然美國是地球上最強的國家,它卻無法成為全球霸權。

States that gain regional hegemony have a further aim: they seek to prevent great powers in other regions from duplicating their feat. Regional hegemons, in other words, do not want peer competitors. Instead, they want to keep other regions divided among several great powers, so that those states will compete with each other and be unable to focus their attention and resources on them. In sum, the ideal situation for any great power is to be the only regional hegemon in the world. The United States enjoys that exalted position today.


What does this theory say about how China is likely to behave as it rises in the years ahead? Put simply, China will try to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. It will try to become a regional hegemon. In particular, China will seek to maximize the power gap between itself and its neighbors, especially India, Japan and Russia. China will want to make sure it is so powerful that no state in Asia has the wherewithal to threaten it.


It is unlikely that China will pursue military superiority so it can go on a rampage and conquer other Asian countries, although that is always possible. Instead, it is more likely that it will want to dictate the boundaries of acceptable behavior to neighboring countries, much the way the United States lets other states in the Americas know that it is the boss.


An increasingly powerful China is also likely to attempt to push the United States out of Asia, much the way the United States pushed the European great powers out of the Western Hemisphere in the nineteenth century. We should expect China to come up with its own version of the Monroe Doctrine, as Japan did in the 1930s.

持續變強的中國,可能會試著把美國趕出亞洲,就像美國在十九世紀把歐洲強權趕出西半球一樣。我們可以預料中國會有自己的門羅主義,像是日本在 1930 年代所作的一樣。

These policy goals make good strategic sense for China. Beijing should want a militarily weak Japan and Russia as its neighbors, just as the United States prefers a militarily weak Canada and Mexico on its borders. What state in its right mind would want other powerful states located in its region? All Chinese surely remember what happened in the previous two centuries when Japan was powerful and China was weak.


Furthermore, why would a powerful China accept U.S. military forces operating in its backyard? American policy makers, after all, go ballistic when other great powers send military forces into the Western Hemisphere. Those foreign forces are invariably seen as a potential threat to American security. The same logic should apply to China. Why would China feel safe with U.S. forces deployed on its doorstep? Following the logic of the Monroe Doctrine, would China’s security not be better served by pushing the American military out of Asia?


Why should we expect China to act any differently than the United States did? Are Chinese leaders more principled than American leaders? More ethical? Are they less nationalistic? Less concerned about their survival? They are none of these things, of course, which is why China is likely to imitate the United States and try to become a regional hegemon.


WHAT ARE the implications of this security story for Taiwan? The answer is that there is a powerful strategic rationale for China—at the very least—to try to sever Taiwan’s close ties with the United States and neutralize Taiwan. However, the best possible outcome for China, which it will surely pursue with increasing vigor over time, would be to make Taiwan part of China.


Unification would work to China’s strategic advantage in two important ways. First, Beijing would absorb Taiwan’s economic and military resources, thus shifting the balance of power in Asia even further in China’s direction. Second, Taiwan is effectively a giant aircraft carrier sitting off China’s coast; acquiring that aircraft carrier would enhance China’s ability to project military power into the western Pacific Ocean.


In short, we see that nationalism as well as realist logic give China powerful incentives to put an end to Taiwan’s de facto independence and make it part of a unified China. This is clearly bad news for Taiwan, especially since the balance of power in Asia is shifting in China’s favor, and it will not be long before Taiwan cannot defend itself against China. Thus, the obvious question is whether the United States can provide security for Taiwan in the face of a rising China. In other words, can Taiwan depend on the United States for its security?


LET US now consider America’s goals in Asia and how they relate to Taiwan. Regional hegemons go to great lengths to stop other great powers from becoming hegemons in their region of the world. The best outcome for any great power is to be the sole regional hegemon in the system. It is apparent from the historical record that the United States operates according to this logic. It does not tolerate peer competitors.


During the twentieth century, there were four great powers that had the capability to make a run at regional hegemony: Imperial Germany from 1900 to 1918, Imperial Japan between 1931 and 1945, Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Not surprisingly, each tried to match what the United States had achieved in the Western Hemisphere.

二十世紀,曾有四個強權有能力角逐區域霸權:1900 至 1918 的德意志帝國、1931 至 1945 的日本帝國、1933 至 1945 的納粹德國、冷戰時期的蘇聯。不令人意外,每一個國家都想要追逐如同美國在西半球建立的霸權。

How did the United States react? In each case, it played a key role in defeating and dismantling those aspiring hegemons.


The United States entered World War I in April 1917 when Imperial Germany looked like it might win the war and rule Europe. American troops played a critical role in tipping the balance against the Kaiserreich, which collapsed in November 1918. In the early 1940s, President Franklin Roosevelt went to great lengths to maneuver the United States into World War II to thwart Japan’s ambitions in Asia and Germany’s ambitions in Europe. The United States came into the war in December 1941, and helped destroy both Axis powers. Since 1945, American policy makers have gone to considerable lengths to put limits on German and Japanese military power. Finally, during the Cold War, the United States steadfastly worked to prevent the Soviet Union from dominating Eurasia and then helped relegate it to the scrap heap of history in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

美國在 1917 四月,當德意志帝國可能勝利並統治歐洲之時,參加了第一次世界大戰。美國部隊對抗德意志王朝扮演了至為重要的角色,讓它於 1918 年十一月崩潰。1940 年代早期,羅斯福總統盡一切力量推動美國加入第二次世界大戰,以顛覆日本在亞洲、德國在歐洲的野心。美國於 1941 年十二月參戰,協助摧毀了兩方軸心國強權。從 1945 年以來,美國的高層一直努力限制德國與日本的軍事力量。最後,冷戰時期,美國堅定地阻止蘇聯支配歐亞大陸,並讓它於 1980 年代晚期與 1990 年代早期解體。

Shortly after the Cold War ended, the George H. W. Bush administration’s controversial “Defense Planning Guidance” of 1992 was leaked to the press. It boldly stated that the United States was now the most powerful state in the world by far and it planned to remain in that exalted position. In other words, the United States would not tolerate a peer competitor.

冷戰結束不久,老布希政府備受爭議的 1992 年《國防計畫綱領》外洩到媒體手中,這份文件中,大膽陳述美國現在是全世界最強大的國家,而且計畫繼續維持全球唯一強權的崇高地位。換句話說,美國不會容忍競爭者。

That same message was repeated in the famous 2002 National Security Strategy issued by the George W. Bush administration. There was much criticism of that document, especially its claims about “preemptive” war. But hardly a word of protest was raised about the assertion that the United States should check rising powers and maintain its commanding position in the global balance of power.

同樣的文字亦出現於 2002 年小布希政府的《國家安全戰略》。該份文件招致許多批評,尤其是其中有關「先發制人」的戰爭的部份。但是對於美國應該提防新興強權與維持全球權力平衡領導地位的假設,卻少有抗議。

The bottom line is that the United States—for sound strategic reasons—worked hard for more than a century to gain hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. Since achieving regional dominance, it has gone to great lengths to prevent other great powers from controlling either Asia or Europe.


Thus, there is little doubt as to how American policy makers will react if China attempts to dominate Asia. The United States can be expected to go to great lengths to contain China and ultimately weaken it to the point where it is no longer capable of ruling the roost in Asia. In essence, the United States is likely to behave toward China much the way it acted toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War.


China’s neighbors are certain to fear its rise as well, and they too will do whatever they can to prevent it from achieving regional hegemony. Indeed, there is already substantial evidence that countries like India, Japan and Russia as well as smaller powers like Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam are worried about China’s ascendancy and are looking for ways to contain it. In the end, they will join an American-led balancing coalition to check China’s rise, much the way Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and even China joined forces with the United States to contain the Soviet Union during the Cold War.


How does Taiwan fit into this story? The United States has a rich history of close relations with Taiwan since the early days of the Cold War, when the Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-shek retreated to the island from the Chinese mainland. However, Washington is not obliged by treaty to come to the defense of Taiwan if it is attacked by China or anyone else.


Regardless, the United States will have powerful incentives to make Taiwan an important player in its anti-China balancing coalition. First, as noted, Taiwan has significant economic and military resources and it is effectively a giant aircraft carrier that can be used to help control the waters close to China’s all-important eastern coast. The United States will surely want Taiwan’s assets on its side of the strategic balance, not on China’s side.


Second, America’s commitment to Taiwan is inextricably bound up with U.S. credibility in the region, which matters greatly to policy makers in Washington. Because the United States is located roughly six thousand miles from East Asia, it has to work hard to convince its Asian allies—especially Japan and South Korea—that it will back them up in the event they are threatened by China or North Korea. Importantly, it has to convince Seoul and Tokyo that they can rely on the American nuclear umbrella to protect them. This is the thorny problem of extended deterrence, which the United States and its allies wrestled with throughout the Cold War.


If the United States were to sever its military ties with Taiwan or fail to defend it in a crisis with China, that would surely send a strong signal to America’s other allies in the region that they cannot rely on the United States for protection. Policy makers in Washington will go to great lengths to avoid that outcome and instead maintain America’s reputation as a reliable partner. This means they will be inclined to back Taiwan no matter what.


While the United States has good reasons to want Taiwan as part of the balancing coalition it will build against China, there are also reasons to think this relationship is not sustainable over the long term. For starters, at some point in the next decade or so it will become impossible for the United States to help Taiwan defend itself against a Chinese attack. Remember that we are talking about a China with much more military capability than it has today.


In addition, geography works in China’s favor in a major way, simply because Taiwan is so close to the Chinese mainland and so far away from the United States. When it comes to a competition between China and the United States over projecting military power into Taiwan, China wins hands down. Furthermore, in a fight over Taiwan, American policy makers would surely be reluctant to launch major attacks against Chinese forces on the mainland, for fear they might precipitate nuclear escalation. This reticence would also work to China’s advantage.


One might argue that there is a simple way to deal with the fact that Taiwan will not have an effective conventional deterrent against China in the not-too-distant future: put America’s nuclear umbrella over Taiwan. This approach will not solve the problem, however, because the United States is not going to escalate to the nuclear level if Taiwan is being overrun by China. The stakes are not high enough to risk a general thermonuclear war. Taiwan is not Japan or even South Korea. Thus, the smart strategy for America is to not even try to extend its nuclear deterrent over Taiwan.


There is a second reason the United States might eventually forsake Taiwan: it is an especially dangerous flashpoint, which could easily precipitate a Sino-American war that is not in America’s interest. U.S. policy makers understand that the fate of Taiwan is a matter of great concern to Chinese of all persuasions and that they will be extremely angry if it looks like the United States is preventing unification. But that is exactly what Washington will be doing if it forms a close military alliance with Taiwan, and that point will not be lost on the Chinese people.


It is important to note in this regard that Chinese nationalism, which is a potent force, emphasizes how great powers like the United States humiliated China in the past when it was weak and appropriated Chinese territory like Hong Kong and Taiwan. Thus, it is not difficult to imagine crises breaking out over Taiwan or scenarios in which a crisis escalates into a shooting war. After all, Chinese nationalism will surely be a force for trouble in those crises, and China will at some point have the military wherewithal to conquer Taiwan, which will make war even more likely.


There was no flashpoint between the superpowers during the Cold War that was as dangerous as Taiwan will be in a Sino-American security competition. Some commentators liken Berlin in the Cold War to Taiwan, but Berlin was not sacred territory for the Soviet Union and it was actually of little strategic importance for either side. Taiwan is different. Given how dangerous it is for precipitating a war and given the fact that the United States will eventually reach the point where it cannot defend Taiwan, there is a reasonable chance that American policy makers will eventually conclude that it makes good strategic sense to abandon Taiwan and allow China to coerce it into accepting unification.


All of this is to say that the United States is likely to be somewhat schizophrenic about Taiwan in the decades ahead. On one hand, it has powerful incentives to make it part of a balancing coalition aimed at containing China. On the other hand, there are good reasons to think that with the passage of time the benefits of maintaining close ties with Taiwan will be outweighed by the potential costs, which are likely to be huge. Of course, in the near term, the United States will protect Taiwan and treat it as a strategic asset. But how long that relationship lasts is an open question.


SO FAR, the discussion about Taiwan’s future has focused almost exclusively on how the United States is likely to act toward Taiwan. However, what happens to Taiwan in the face of China’s rise also depends greatly on what policies Taiwan’s leaders and its people choose to pursue over time. There is little doubt that Taiwan’s overriding goal in the years ahead will be to preserve its independence from China. That aim should not be too difficult to achieve for the next decade, mainly because Taiwan is almost certain to maintain close relations with the United States, which will have powerful incentives as well as the capability to protect Taiwan. But after that point Taiwan’s strategic situation is likely to deteriorate in significant ways, mainly because China will be rapidly approaching the point where it can conquer Taiwan even if the American military helps defend the island. And, as noted, it is not clear that the United States will be there for Taiwan over the long term.


In the face of this grim future, Taiwan has three options. First, it can develop its own nuclear deterrent. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate deterrent, and there is no question that a Taiwanese nuclear arsenal would markedly reduce the likelihood of a Chinese attack against Taiwan.


Taiwan pursued this option in the 1970s, when it feared American abandonment in the wake of the Vietnam War. The United States, however, stopped Taiwan’s nuclear-weapons program in its tracks. And then Taiwan tried to develop a bomb secretly in the 1980s, but again the United States found out and forced Taipei to shut the program down. It is unfortunate for Taiwan that it failed to build a bomb, because its prospects for maintaining its independence would be much improved if it had its own nuclear arsenal.

台灣曾於 1970 年代試過這個選項,當時害怕美國會因為越戰而放棄台灣。美國則阻止了台灣發展中的核武計畫。之後,台灣在 1980 年代秘密研發核子彈,美國再次發現此事,強迫台北中止計畫。對於台灣來說,無法製造核子彈是相當不幸的,因為如果台灣有核武,獨立的台灣將會更加繁榮。

No doubt Taiwan still has time to acquire a nuclear deterrent before the balance of power in Asia shifts decisively against it. But the problem with this suggestion is that both Beijing and Washington are sure to oppose Taiwan going nuclear. The United States would oppose Taiwanese nuclear weapons, not only because they would encourage Japan and South Korea to follow suit, but also because American policy makers abhor the idea of an ally being in a position to start a nuclear war that might ultimately involve the United States. To put it bluntly, no American wants to be in a situation where Taiwan can precipitate a conflict that might result in a massive nuclear attack on the United States.


China will adamantly oppose Taiwan obtaining a nuclear deterrent, in large part because Beijing surely understands that it would make it difficult—maybe even impossible—to conquer Taiwan. What’s more, China will recognize that Taiwanese nuclear weapons would facilitate nuclear proliferation in East Asia, which would not only limit China’s ability to throw its weight around in that region, but also would increase the likelihood that any conventional war that breaks out would escalate to the nuclear level. For these reasons, China is likely to make it manifestly clear that if Taiwan decides to pursue nuclear weapons, it will strike its nuclear facilities, and maybe even launch a war to conquer the island. In short, it appears that it is too late for Taiwan to pursue the nuclear option.


Taiwan’s second option is conventional deterrence. How could Taiwan make deterrence work without nuclear weapons in a world where China has clear-cut military superiority over the combined forces of Taiwan and the United States? The key to success is not to be able to defeat the Chinese military—that is impossible—but instead to make China pay a huge price to achieve victory. In other words, the aim is to make China fight a protracted and bloody war to conquer Taiwan. Yes, Beijing would prevail in the end, but it would be a Pyrrhic victory. This strategy would be even more effective if Taiwan could promise China that the resistance would continue even after its forces were defeated on the battlefield. The threat that Taiwan might turn into another Sinkiang or Tibet would foster deterrence for sure.


This option is akin to Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz’s famous “risk strategy,” which Imperial Germany adopted in the decade before World War I. Tirpitz accepted the fact that Germany could not build a navy powerful enough to defeat the mighty Royal Navy in battle. He reasoned, however, that Berlin could build a navy that was strong enough to inflict so much damage on the Royal Navy that it would cause London to fear a fight with Germany and thus be deterred. Moreover, Tirpitz reasoned that this “risk fleet” might even give Germany diplomatic leverage it could use against Britain.

這個選擇類似 Alfred von Tirpitz 將軍著名的「風險戰略」,德意志帝國在第一次世界大戰前十年採用此戰略。Tirpitz 知道德國無法建造一支足以在戰爭之中,打敗強大皇家海軍的德國海軍。但是,他想到一個方法,柏林有能力建造一支海軍,對皇家海軍造成非常嚴重的損失,讓倫敦不敢與德國開戰,達成嚇阻的效果。而且,Tirpitz 瞭解到,這支「風險艦隊」甚至可以讓德國面對英國取得外交利益。

There are a number of problems with this form of conventional deterrence, which raise serious doubts about whether it can work for Taiwan over the long haul. For starters, the strategy depends on the United States fighting side by side with Taiwan. But it is difficult to imagine American policy makers purposely choosing to fight a war in which the U.S. military is not only going to lose, but is also going to pay a huge price in the process. It is not even clear that Taiwan would want to fight such a war, because it would be fought mainly on Taiwanese territory—not Chinese territory—and there would be death and destruction everywhere. And Taiwan would lose in the end anyway.


Furthermore, pursuing this option would mean that Taiwan would be constantly in an arms race with China, which would help fuel an intense and dangerous security competition between them. The sword of Damocles, in other words, would always be hanging over Taiwan.


Finally, although it is difficult to predict just how dominant China will become in the distant future, it is possible that it will eventually become so powerful that Taiwan will be unable to put up major resistance against a Chinese onslaught. This would certainly be true if America’s commitment to defend Taiwan weakens as China morphs into a superpower.


Taiwan’s third option is to pursue what I will call the “Hong Kong strategy.” In this case, Taiwan accepts the fact that it is doomed to lose its independence and become part of China. It then works hard to make sure that the transition is peaceful and that it gains as much autonomy as possible from Beijing. This option is unpalatable today and will remain so for at least the next decade. But it is likely to become more attractive in the distant future if China becomes so powerful that it can conquer Taiwan with relative ease.


So where does this leave Taiwan? The nuclear option is not feasible, as neither China nor the United States would accept a nuclear-armed Taiwan. Conventional deterrence in the form of a “risk strategy” is far from ideal, but it makes sense as long as China is not so dominant that it can subordinate Taiwan without difficulty. Of course, for that strategy to work, the United States must remain committed to the defense of Taiwan, which is not guaranteed over the long term.


Once China becomes a superpower, it probably makes the most sense for Taiwan to give up hope of maintaining its de facto independence and instead pursue the “Hong Kong strategy.” This is definitely not an attractive option, but as Thucydides argued long ago, in international politics “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

只要中國成為強權,台灣很可能會放棄維持實質獨立的希望,改選擇「香港戰略」。這不是一個吸引人的選擇,但是 Thucydides 曾經說過國際政治是「強者恣意妄為,弱者只能忍受」。

By now, it should be glaringly apparent that whether Taiwan is forced to give up its independence largely depends on how formidable China’s military becomes in the decades ahead. Taiwan will surely do everything it can to buy time and maintain the political status quo. But if China continues its impressive rise, Taiwan appears destined to become part of China.


THERE IS one set of circumstances under which Taiwan can avoid this scenario. Specifically, all Taiwanese should hope there is a drastic slowdown in Chinese economic growth in the years ahead and that Beijing also has serious political problems on the home front that work to keep it focused inward. If that happens, China will not be in a position to pursue regional hegemony and the United States will be able to protect Taiwan from China, as it does now. In essence, the best way for Taiwan to maintain de facto independence is for China to be economically and militarily weak. Unfortunately for Taiwan, it has no way of influencing events so that this outcome actually becomes reality.


When China started its impressive growth in the 1980s, most Americans and Asians thought this was wonderful news, because all of the ensuing trade and other forms of economic intercourse would make everyone richer and happier. China, according to the reigning wisdom, would become a responsible stakeholder in the international community, and its neighbors would have little to worry about. Many Taiwanese shared this optimistic outlook, and some still do.

當中國在 1980 年代飛躍成長時,多數美國人與亞洲人認為這是好消息,因為與中國貿易、加上其他的經濟交流,會讓每個人更富有、更快樂。中國,按照勝者的智慧,會成為國際社會負責任的大國,而它的鄰居不必杞人憂天。許多台灣人都有這種樂觀的想法,直到今日還是有些台灣人抱持著這種看法。

They are wrong. By trading with China and helping it grow into an economic powerhouse, Taiwan has helped create a burgeoning Goliath with revisionist goals that include ending Taiwan’s independence and making it an integral part of China. In sum, a powerful China isn’t just a problem for Taiwan. It is a nightmare.


John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He serves on the Advisory Council of The National Interest. This article is adapted from a speech he gave in Taipei on December 7, 2013, to the Taiwanese Association of International Relations. An updated edition of his book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics will be published in April by W. W. Norton.

John J. Mearsheimer 是芝加哥大學政治科學 R. Wendell Harrison 傑出教授。他是《國家利益》雜誌的顧問。本文改寫自 2013 年十二月七日,他於台北的台灣國際關係協會所作的演講。他所著的《強權政治悲劇》修訂版,將於四月由 W. W. Norton 出版。

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