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Taiwan Strait Scenarios

Taiwan and its supporters in East Asia should be considering scenarios other than a Chinese invasion or blockade of the island. China's most obvious next step toward unification lies much closer to the mainland.

LANCASTER – The Matsu Islands are a little-known Taiwanese outpost just ten kilometers (6.2 miles) off the coast of China. For their connection to the rest of the world, they rely on two hosepipe-sized submarine cables stretching 200 kilometers back to Taiwan. In February, Chinese ships severed both lines.

Taiwanese authorities downplayed the significance of these incidents: one involved a bottom-dragging fishing trawler, and the other a freighter’s anchor. But whether intentional or not, the episode vividly illustrated the vulnerability of Taiwan’s outposts in the strait.

Meanwhile, US and Australian officials have been issuing increasingly strident warnings that China may soon invade Taiwan. Last fall, the head of US naval operations warned that China could make its move as soon as this year. And in military drills last August, and again in April, China telegraphed the threat of a blockade to cut off the island.

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