The Taiwan Dilemma: Kevin Rudd's Warning of Global Consequences

Kevin Rudd, Australia's ambassador to the U.S., warns that a war over Taiwan would have global consequences comparable to World War II. He outlines the potential for significant geopolitical shifts should Chinese President Xi Jinping pursue reunification and emphasizes the critical nature of U.S. deterrence in preventing conflict.

Reuters | Updated: 07-06-2024 07:29 IST | Created: 07-06-2024 07:29 IST
The Taiwan Dilemma: Kevin Rudd's Warning of Global Consequences
Kevin Rudd

Australia's ambassador to the United States, Kevin Rudd, cautioned in a speech that the global consequences of a war over Taiwan would be as great as the impact of the Second World War, making the world "a radically different place".

If Chinese President Xi Jinping, who turns 71 this month, wanted to achieve reunification of Taiwan he would likely act in the next decade before he reaches his 80s, Rudd said in a speech in Honolulu on Thursday. The United States has expressed concern about Chinese military activity near democratically governed Taiwan, including after the island's presidential election and the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te last month. China has warned the U.S. should not interfere in China's affairs with Taiwan.

Taiwan and the United States have no official diplomatic relationship, as Washington formally recognises Beijing but is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and is the island's most important international backer. "We would be foolish to ignore the increasing clarity of China's military signalling, including the pattern of its most recent military exercises," said Rudd, who was twice Australia's prime minister in the previous decade.

Whether China acts will depend on its perception of the strength of U.S. deterrence, he said. The United States recognized that if China was successful in annexing Taiwan it would impact U.S. credibility and have "profound, and potentially irreversible effect on the perceived reliability of U.S. alliances worldwide", he said.

The United States, China and Taiwan have a common interest in avoiding open military confrontation on the future of Taiwan, said Rudd, a China scholar who was president of the Asia Society in New York until last year. "The economic costs, domestic political impacts, and unknowable geo-strategic consequences that such a war would generate would likely be of an order of magnitude that we have not seen since the Second World War," he said.

"Whatever the outcome (an American victory, a Chinese victory, or a bloody stalemate), the world is likely to become a radically different place after such a war than it was before."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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