How Us-Japan-S Korea Can Deter China On Taiwan


(MENAFN- Asia Times) In recent years, Japan and the United States have taken a series of steps to bolster deterrence-building vis-a-vis the Taiwan Strait.

In 2021, for example, Tokyo and Washington reportedly formulated a joint
plan
that entails theMarine Corps setting up an attack base along the Nansei island chain in preparation for a Taiwan Strait military contingency.

Moreover, following the conclusion of US-Japan Security Consultative Committee (2+2) discussions in 2023, it was announced that Washington would repurpose a Marine Corps regiment in Okinawa and equip it with anti-ship missiles that can
target
PLA Navy ships during a Taiwan Strait military conflict.

The Republic of Korea (ROK), however, has long been reluctant to toe the same line. The election of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, along with recently expressed public
animosity
toward China within South Korea, may change things.

Seoul's shift toward becoming more proactive on Taiwan issues has been notable. In May 2021, for example, Taiwan was named for the first time in a joint
statement
between the ROK and the United States.

In February 2023, ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin stated in a CNN
interview
that Seoul opposes any unilateral change of the staquo in the Taiwan Strait via force and that such a change would have a“direct impact” on South Korea. This marked a remarkable departure from earlier posturing.

It would be remiss not to transform such willingness, however slight, into incremental steps amenable to Seoul that ultimately support Taiwan's defense. This article will identify and discuss three such steps that should be taken.

USFK to help Taiwan?

First, trilateral discussions involving the three countries should be organized to establish whether Seoul will allow troops fromForces Korea (USFK) to supportoperations during a Taiwan Strait military contingency.

A commitment from Japan to permit theto utilize its bases in-country to defend Taiwan, a move already
expected
by Chinese foreign policy elites, would provide Seoul the space needed to provide USFK the“strategic flexibility” to operate beyond the Korean Peninsula.




F-16 Falcon and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft fly over Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea. Photo:Air Force / Lieutenant Colonel Judd Fancher

Furthermore, discussions can be held to formulate plans for ROK and Japanese forces to provide rear area and intelligence-gathering support in the event of a Taiwan Strait military contingency.

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