Notwithstanding the cynicism, Fred Reed has the Taiwan situation doped out pretty well. From Reed at unz.com:
I will now explain war, or some of it. If you wonder how some mutt in Mexico with a computer thinks he knows about strategy, well, look at what we have in Washington. How could I be worse?
In geopolitical circles, blather swirls over whether the United States can defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion in a regional war. Sez I, it doesn’t matter whether it can if it won’t, and China will likely get the island without invading. The key is to think about how things look from Taiwan.
Washington is vague about whether it would militarily defend Taiwan. Taiwan presumably has noticed. Further, America does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country. More waffling. The implication is that Washington might, or might not, do something, or something else, depending on unspecified things, probably or at least possibly.
This sounds like hedging, a disguised American recognition that this isn’t 1955, and China is no longer a bamboo republic that makes pencils and cheap plastic buckets for Walmart. As China’s military power grows, and thus the cost of a war, America’s equivocation will likely become more equivocal. Throw in that America does $550 billion in commerce annually with the Middle Kingdom, including countless things America doesn’t make but can’t do without, and war with China doesn’t look real feasible. This too has probably occurred to Taipei.
The fashion in naval circles is to talk about the First Island Chain, which is a sort of barrier along the coast of China, the Kuriles, Japan, Okinawa in the Ryukyus, Taiwan, the Philippines, and even Borneo. The idea, apart from some fairly silly notions about “containing China,” is that these islands will want to join with Washington, which is somewhere else, to fight China, which is right there, to defend Taiwan, which also is right there.