Policy Exchange: Discussion on policy steps to defend Taiwan and prevent war

On the 15th May, the right wing think tank Policy Exchange hosted a debate chaired by Lord Sedwill on policy steps the UK can take to prevent war, with Security Minister Tom Tugendhat and former US Deputy Security Advisor Matt Pottinger.

Tugendhat points to the case of Hong Kong as evidence of the ‘death’ of Deng’s ‘One Country Two Systems’ and that the UK needs to clear eyed about the implications of the big changes in Hong Kong and Macau, not only in those territories but also in terms of the reach of the PRC into UK and gross violations of UK sovereignty in the harassment of HK citizens in the UK.  

Pottinger points to the change in public opinion in Taiwan, whose people are now far less inclined to engage with 1C2S and the PRC. Taiwan therefore needs to demonstrate its ability to resist the PRC’s attempt to annex it in the context of a collapse in deterrence in defence of democratic nations like Taiwan worldwide. He argues that soft power doesn’t add up to much if it is not matched by a credible hard power military capability for deterrence. He sees Europe’s role in confronting PRC adventurism towards Taiwan would be mostly diplomatic and economic but should come well in advance and not when hostilities have already started. PRC economic weakness provides leverage to signal the economic implications of invasion to the PRC, raising the costs in their calculations.

The discussion moves on to deterring foreign state actors from conducting operations in the UK and stresses the need to respond collectively when they do. The floor is then opened to questions at the 46 minute mark, including topics such as the role and impact of AUKUS. 




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