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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

China’s War Against Taiwan Could Come Sooner Rather Than Later

The reasons for China to act are more compelling than the reasons to wait.

Taiwanese sailors could see action sooner than many think.

Taiwanese sailors could see action sooner than many think.

Photographer: SAM YEH/AFP

The single biggest risk in the world right now is almost too painful to think about. Within the next five to six years — possibly sooner — there is a very real chance that relations between China and Taiwan will take a turn for the worse.

It’s not as if all of a sudden one morning the news will be filled with reports of bombs falling on Taipei. China has other options: It might occupy the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, just off the coast of China but claimed by Taiwan. Imagine China taking the islands, possibly with zero casualties, and then calling both Taipei and Washington to discuss what should happen next. Taiwan would have to think long and hard.