Think tank warns of potential US-China clash over Taiwan


A crisis between the US and China over Taiwan could affect US interests next year, according to a survey released by a US think tank on Wednesday, although it said it was not very likely.

In the annual Preventive Priorities Survey released by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action (CPA), US foreign policy experts assessed the likelihood and effect of 30 potential conflicts that could emerge or escalate next year.

The CPA then categorized the scenarios under three tiers — high, moderate and low — in order of priority for US leaders.

One of the 30 contingencies identified was “a crisis between the United States and China over Taiwan, as a result of China’s intensifying political and economic pressure surrounding Taiwan’s elections in 2020.”

The survey said that the likelihood of such a scenario was “low,” but if it did occur the impact on the US would be “moderate,” so it was categorized a Tier II concern.

Another contingency of concern to the US was an armed confrontation over disputed maritime areas in the South China Sea between China and other regional claimants, the survey said.

Taiwan claims parts of the South China Sea, as does Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Such a confrontation was listed as a Tier I issue, as it would highly affect US interests and the likelihood of it occurring was moderate, the survey said.

In this year’s survey, the top homeland security concerns for the US were a highly disruptive cyberattack on critical infrastructure, including electoral systems, and a mass-casualty terrorist attack.

The US’ biggest concerns overseas were listed as a confrontation with Iran, North Korea or China in the South China Sea, the report said.

Since 2008, the CPA has been issuing the annual report in which foreign policy experts are asked to rank 30 ongoing or potential conflicts, based on how likely they are to occur or escalate in the next year and their possible effect on US interests.