By Aaron Kliegman Just three days after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Chinese military simulated an attack on a US Navy aircraft carrier during an incursion into Taiwan’s airspace. China’s message to the US was clear: Taiwan is ours, and we’re ready to use military force to conquer it. Of course, this message is hardly new. China has long considered Taiwan an unruly, insubordinate province which needs to be brought to heel. Indeed, to the Chinese government, Taiwan’s mere existence as an independent democracy just 100 miles away poses an existential threat. Add the island’s alignment with the US, and the threat becomes that much greater. Hence Beijing’s hellbent push to reunify Taiwan with the Chinese mainland. In recent years, however, China’s belligerence toward Taiwan has increased — and along with it the prospect of China launching a military campaign to subjugate the island. For the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Taiwan is truly an obsession. In January 2019, the US Defense Intelligence Agency released a report identifying Beijing's desire to "compel Taiwan's reunification with the mainland and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence" as the "primary driver for China's military modernization." That same month, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CCP, threatened to use military force against Taiwan. "China must be, and will be reunified," he said. "We do not forsake the use of force." Xi also described unification as the "great trend of history," an inevitable force that will keep China’s authoritarian boot on the free Taiwanese people’s necks. Later that same year, the Chinese government declared in a new defense white paper that solving "the Taiwan question and complete reunification of the country is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation and essential to realizing national rejuvenation." The document added that China "must be and will be reunited" and that not only China makes "no promise to renounce the use of force" but also reserves "the option of taking all necessary measures" to seize Taiwan. China has only become more belligerent since then, leading a growing number of experts to acknowledge that military conflict between the US and China over Taiwan is only becoming more likely with time. Which makes it more important than ever for the US to deter a Chinese invasion. For decades, the US has adopted an ambiguous policy toward Taiwan. We’ve tried to deter China from attacking while reassuring Beijing that Washington won’t accept Taiwanese independence. This delicate balancing act is outdated, according to Nobuyasu Abe, a former commissioner of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission and former UN under secretary-general for disarmament. Abe, whose resume hardly screams foreign policy hawk, recently told the New York Times that, when Xi “is so explicit on Taiwan,” America’s policy just emboldens Beijing. The US needs to stop trying to appease both sides and instead focus on deterring China and reassuring Taiwan. This requires America flexing its military muscles and using hard power more overtly to assist the Taiwanese and show the CCP that, without question, invading Taiwan is unacceptable. Some readers will inevitably ask why Taiwan matters. Why not just stay out of it and save American blood and treasure? Simply put, the strategic importance of Taiwan is crucial. Taiwan is the critical point of the so-called "first island chain," the first line of archipelagos off the east Asian continental coastline. If China wants to challenge American power in the Pacific, it needs to break through that chain, which is composed of America’s allies. And Taiwan is the spot where China thinks it can break through. Plus, as a vibrant democracy standing up each day to the Chinese juggernaut, Taiwan is a key weapon to undermine the CCP’s power inside China. In short, anyone who claims to be concerned about China isn’t serious unless they support Taiwan. Any strategy to counter China necessitates a vigorous effort to deter an invasion of the island. Indeed, Taiwan is the fulcrum of the nascent Cold War between the US and China. How Taiwan goes will signal how the world goes — either toward a bright future of freedom and prosperity led by the US or down into a dark abyss of cruel autocracy dominated by China The US cannot afford to get Taiwan wrong — or, soon enough, what happened three days after Inauguration Day will happen again. Only this time it won’t be a simulation. Newt hosts monthly virtual events in which he discusses news of the day and why it matters to you and your community. These Newt Live events are your opportunity to communicate directly with Newt. We hope you will join us next time and let Newt answer your questions and provide his insight on the issues that concern you most. JOIN TODAY to be a part of this special event and receive a BONUS GIFT. Click here to join Newt’s Inner Circle.