The Heritage Foundation Releases New Report on Taiwan’s Strategic Importance to U.S. Economic and Security Interests

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The Heritage Foundation Releases New Report on Taiwan’s Strategic Importance to U.S. Economic and Security Interests

Mar 27, 2024 4 min read

WASHINGTON - Today, The Heritage Foundation published a comprehensive research report titled “The American Case for Taiwan,” authored by Michael Cunningham, a research fellow in the Asian Studies Center. 

The American Case for Taiwan details why the United States has a national security and economic interest in protecting Taiwan from Communist China. It also provides policy recommendations to advance these interests. The report comes amid a significant increase in Chinese military provocations against the island in recent years and rising concern in Washington about the prospect of armed conflict with China.  

Michael Cunningham, Research Fellow in the Asian Studies Center and author of the report stated:

“This report seeks to bridge this gap by helping Americans of all stripes—and the elected officials who represent them—understand that Taiwan’s security is directly relevant to their security and economic well-being. Some understandably fear that by supporting Taiwan, the U.S. risks getting pulled into a war with China. My research found that the opposite is more likely to be true. Allowing China to take control of Taiwan, far from placating Beijing, would only make a U.S.-China conflict more likely.” 

Below are some highlights from the report:  

  • A Chinese occupation of Taiwan would enable China to break through the “first island chain” stretching from Japan to Indonesia, which serves as America’s first line of defense in the Pacific. Doing so would position China to more directly threaten the U.S. and its allies. 

  • A Chinese seizure of Taiwan would give it control over the global supply of semiconductors and with it, unacceptable leverage over the U.S. Taiwan produces over half of the world’s semiconductors and over 90% of the most advanced chips. The U.S. and global economies would likely be devastated by any conflict over Taiwan. A recent report estimated such a conflict could cost upward of $10 trillion, or 10% of the global economy. The actual cost could be even more.  

  • Preserving cross-Strait peace requires both bolstering deterrence and avoiding changes to the diplomatic status quo. Action aimed at definitively resolving the Taiwan’s diplomatic status could inadvertently spark the very conflict America is determined to prevent. Instead, U.S. policy must remain focused on deterring Chinese military action against Taiwan and preserving that status quo.   

  • Failure to defend Taiwan would raise doubts about America’s commitment to regional security, weakening U.S. security alliances and emboldening China to act more aggressively in pursuit of regional dominance.    

Jeff Smith, Director of the Asian Studies Center added: 

"This Special Report offers a novel and remarkably comprehensive assessment of Taiwan's importance to the United States. The American Case for Taiwan meticulously documents how indispensable Taiwan is to the functioning of the global economy and, more importantly, to the security and prosperity of Americans. Readers will be left with no doubt that keeping Taiwan free from the grip of the Chinese Communist Party is a vital American interest."   

As the nation’s largest, most broadly supported conservative research and educational institution, The Heritage Foundation has been leading the American conservative movement since our founding in 1973. The Heritage Foundation reaches more than 10 million members, advocates, and concerned Americans every day with information on critical issues facing America.   

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