There will be “China hawks” who denounce any deal on Taiwan as American capitulation, but their fear of a Red China menacing Asia is anachronistic. Portraying the United States as a democratic Athens threatened by China’s autocratic Sparta makes for sensational imagery, but nothing could be further from reality.
The battle today is between competing balance sheets, and it is fought in board rooms; it is not a geopolitical struggle to militarily or ideologically “dominate” the Pacific.
In fact, China and the United States have interlocking economic interests. China’s greatest military asset is actually the United States Navy, which keeps the sea lanes safe for China’s resources and products to flow freely.
China would want a deal on Taiwan for several reasons. First, Taiwan is Beijing’s unspoken but hard-to-hide top priority for symbolic and strategic reasons; only access to water and energy mean more to Chinese leaders.
Second, a deal would open a clearer path for the gradual, orderly integration of Taiwan into China.
Third, it would undermine hard-line militarists who use the Taiwan issue to stoke nationalist flames, sideline pro-Western technocrats and extract larger military budgets. And finally, it would save China the considerable sums it has been spending on a vast military buildup.