How to Deter China from Invading Taiwan?

Wednesday 31 May 2023 / 09:30 - 11:30 / Microsoft Teams

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rapidly growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait have refocused attention on the possibility of China pursuing a forceful unification with Taiwan. Until recently, the potential costs of a war with the world’s largest superpower stopped any serious consideration of provoking one. Now, however, Chinese drills in the surrounding waters, including simulated precision strikes to hit strategic targets on the island and organizing advances around the island to test an all-round encirclement and deterrence posture, are indications of China’s intentions to pursue its goal in a way that would severely harm regional peace and security. Accordingly, deterring a PLA invasion of Taiwan has become a top priority for Taipei and Washington alike.   

A deterrence strategy must necessarily include both military and economic modes. Firstly, it is vital for Washington and Taipei to contain Chinese over-confidence in their own military abilities. This requires ensuring that the Taiwanese military is well-equipped and well-prepared and that plans are in place to ensure any act of war from China can be duly met. In other words, maintaining a military balance is key. Economically too, it is important for like-minded partners including Australia, Japan, and perhaps India, including Taiwan’s allies to diversify their supply chains and ensure they are not overly dependent on China. If Beijing believes that the excessive economic dependence of actors like Japan and Australia (and the U.S.) will deter them from coming to Taiwan’s aid, it might be more willing to take military action. Clear messaging and communication on the part of these actors can also help avoid such miscalculations. In this vein, raising Taiwan’s international status is also a crucial move to dissuade Chinese military action.  

Strategically, Washington and Taipei must consider integrated deterrence options like exploring resilient combat systems, new warfighting concepts, and greater intelligence sharing. The Chinese leadership is no doubt drawing lessons from Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling – through nuclear signaling, raising the alert level of nuclear forces and provocative rhetoric. In the face of this, the US must sustain the credibility of its own nuclear deterrence, while at the same time walking a fine line to make sure it does not end up in an escalatory spiral. Working closely with allies in Taiwan (and the various other security issues in the Indo-Pacific) can be a vital part of such a strategy. In essence, China must be prevented from becoming overconfident in its own capabilities, convinced of the U.S. (and other allied states’) commitment to Taiwan, and reassured that the U.S. will not seek to take military action against China without provocation.  

The Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP) in Sweden, together with the Prospect Foundation (PF) in Taiwan and the Kajima Institute for International Peace (KIIP) in Japan, brings several international experts to discuss that very question: How to deter China from invading Taiwan?

This virtual event in particular aims to address the following questions: 

  1. Can the Indo-Pacific community have an integrated deterrence strategy via-a-vis China on providing a strategic shield to Taiwan?  
  2. What role the leading Quad powers in the Indo-Pacific- Australia, Japan, India, and the U.S.- should adopt to deter a PLA contingency over Taiwan?  
  3. What economic strategy the Indo-Pacific community must implement- individually and together- to prepare an effective deterrence strategy?  


Lieutenant General (Retired) Jun Nagashima is a Visiting Scholar of DKI APCSS in Hawaii, and the Director of the Japan Institute for Space and Security in Japan. He is an Adjunct Professor at the National Defense Academy of Japan and is a Senior Research Advisor at the Nakasone Peace Institute in Japan. Jun Nagashima is also a Director for the Japan Society for Defense Studies. He was born in 1960 in Tokyo, Japan, and served as a Government of Japan Cabinet Councillor starting in August 2013 and also as Deputy Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary, National Security Secretariat, from January 2014. He is the first military officer to hold the position of Cabinet Councillor in Japan.


Dr. Cheng-Yi Lin is a Research Fellow at the Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica, Taiwan. His research focuses on international relations, Sino-American relations, and national security policy. Dr. Lin was appointed as the Senior Advisor to the R.O.C. National Security Council (2003-2004), the ViceMinister of the R.O.C. Mainland Affairs Council (2016-2018), and was the CEO of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research from 2018 to 2020. He holds a Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and has been dedicated to research and education for decades. 

Torbjörn Lodén, ISDPProfessor Torbjörn Lodén is the Head of Stockholm China Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Sweden. He was a Professor of Chinese language and culture at Stockholm University 1990-2014. In 1990, he obtained a Ph.D. degree in Sinology in Stockholm. In the 1980’s he set up, together with Dr. Bert Edström, Senior Fellow at ISDP, the first East Asian Studies Program at Stockholm University. Prof. Loden served as the Director of the Centre for Pacific Asia Studies at Stockholm University 1998-2001; as a research fellow at City University of Hong Kong 2003-2004; and as a visiting Professor at the same university 2011-2014. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. 


Dr. Jeffrey Becker directs the Center for Naval Analysis’s (CNA) Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Program, where he oversees the organization’s work examining defense plans and policies, security trends, and other issues of importance across the Indo-Pacific. Dr. Becker has testified before Congress, briefed U.S. Government and DoD officials, and written extensively on China’s military as a global force, including PLA overseas basing, U.S.-China military engagement, and the security implications of Chinas global presence. His recent publications include “China, UNCLOS and the Future of International Maritime Law in the South China Sea” (forthcoming), “Chinese Views of the Quad” (Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, 2021), “Securing China’s Lifelines Across the Indian Ocean” (US Navy War College, 2020), and “China’s Presence in the Middle East and Western Indian Ocean: Beyond Belt and Road” (CNA, 2019).  

Dr. Malcolm Davis joined the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) as a Senior Analyst in Defence Strategy and Capability in January 2016. He has worked with the Department of Defence, both in Navy Headquarters in the Strategy and Force Structure area, and with Strategic Policy Division in the Strategic Policy Guidance and Strategic External Relations and Education sections from November 2007 to March 2012. Prior to this appointment, he was a Lecturer in Defence Studies with King’s College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, in Shrivenham, UK, from June 2000 to October 2007. He holds a PhD in Strategic Studies from the University of Hull as well as two master’s degrees in strategic studies, including from the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. His main research focus is on defense strategy and capability development, military technology, and the future of warfare. 

Dr. Filippo Fasulo is the Co-Head of the Geoeconomics Centre at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), Italy. Before joining ISPI Filippo Fasulo served as the Director of the Italy-China Foundation’s Centre on Business Research (CeSIF). In 2014, he earned a Ph.D. in Politics and institutions from the Catholic University of Milan with a dissertation on the concept of power in China’s politics that was awarded the Cesare Bonacossa Prize by the University of Pavia. In 2012, he received a MSc in China in Comparative Perspectives at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Since 2011, he has been lecturing on China-related topics at the Catholic University of Milan. He is also Academic Secretary for the course in Far Eastern Studies at the Accademia Ambrosiana in Milan. From 2014 to 2016, he has been a board member of the Institute for Public Administration Science (ISAP – Istituto per la scienza dell’amministrazione pubblica). 

Introduction by:

Anna Jarmuth, Outreach Coordinator at ISDPMs. Anna Jarmuth is the Outreach Coordinator for Institute for Security & Development Policy, Sweden. Ms. Jarmuth is responsible for coordinating the Institute’s various outreach activities, organizing seminars and conferences, as well as supervising the Internship Program and the Visiting Fellows Program.



Moderated by:

Jagannath Panda, ISDPDr. Jagannath Panda is the Head of the Stockholm Center for South Asian and Indo-Pacific Affairs at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Sweden. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies, The Netherlands, and an International Research Fellow at the Canon Institute for Global Studies, Japan. Dr. Panda has testified to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission at the US Congress. He is also the Series Editor for Routledge Studies on Think Asia. As a senior expert on China, East Asia and the Indo-Pacific affairs, Dr. Panda’s research focuses primarily on India’s relations with Indo-Pacific powers (China, Japan, Korea, USA); China-India Relations, EU-India Relations; and EU’s infrastructure, connectivity and maritime initiatives in Indo-Pacific.