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As China Becomes a Superpower, is Taiwan Still Defendable?

U.S. and allied military planners are beginning to reckon with a sobering new calculus in the Taiwan Straight.

The prospect that the People's Republic of China will be a "globally dominant" power 100 years after its founding—in 2049—is real and growing, according to a recent Pentagon report. This has far-reaching implications for the U.S. and its place in the world, including its ability and willingness to protect Taiwan from the longstanding historical claims of Beijing. 

Kris Osborn, the editor of Warrior Maven, said in a recent interview that China may be in a position to assert itself on Taiwan well before 2049. 

“They may move earlier," he said, due to "the pace of their modernization," including the recent addition of a second aircraft carrier. He noted that the recent Pentagon report has "to a large degree... disintegrated" the longstanding confidence in maintaining an "autonomous Taiwan" under the umbrella of a U.S.-led military alliance. 

Osborn said while nobody can predict China's actions, there has been an uptick in “provocative behavior” such as a rise in amphibious assault drills near Taiwan.

“They're overloading the Taiwanese airzone with fighter jets and different kinds of assets from the air. They're conducting war operations and even dual-carrier drills [that] copy the U.S. Navy, now that a second aircraft carrier being is operational,” Osborn said. 

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The Chinese would not have to travel far, being just 100-miles from the Taiwanese coast, he noted. “Depending on where you take off within mainland China, you can [reach Taiwan] even without a tanker and make air attacks,” Osborn said.

Osborn noted that military experts are divided on the question of whether or not the U.S. could intervene early enough to prevent China from rapidly taking over Taiwan.

“It's an interesting question,” Osborn said. “It depends how close the U.S. Navy is. This is why you are seeing carrier presence, drones, and [other] activity in the area.”

Watch the full interview: