Briefing paper

"Reunification" with Taiwan through force would be a Pyrrhic victory for China

World politics International relations Relations with China Military operations China Taiwan

Many commentators and officials speculate about Beijing’s plans to compel 'reunification' with Taiwan. Much of the existing commentary focuses on how or when a Chinese attack on Taiwan could occur, but there is little discussion of the non-military consequences of such a scenario for China and the world. This brief explores the implications of a Chinese attack on Taiwan based on reasonable, albeit speculative, assumptions.

When considered more holistically, the implications of an attack on Taiwan would be grim for Beijing, even if Chinese forces 'successfully' capture the island. China would probably be diplomatically and economically isolated from key advanced economies, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping would have to tread a narrow path to avoid dire consequences for China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a whole.

This analysis helps clarify what could be at stake for the world and reaffirms the importance of deterring Beijing from contemplating such an attack on Taiwan.

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