Since at least the early 1950s, the entire Asia-Pacific region has struggled with the complicated and complex relationship between China and Taiwan—today the Taiwan question is considered a potential flashpoint for a much larger international conflict.

Bringing together experts from the U.S. and Taiwan, Assessing the Threat provides a comprehensive look at the dangers of military escalation in the Taiwan Strait, the latest advances in capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army, and China’s security relationship with the United States and the Asia-Pacific. There is increasing concern that Beijing is steadily shifting the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait in its favor. Recent advances in Chinese air and naval power, along with changes in PLA doctrine, have the potential to weaken deterrence and destabilize the cross-strait military balance. At this critical juncture, there is no question that this issue requires sustained, detailed analysis, and that many measures can and should be taken to reduce the threat of conflict between China, Taiwan, and the United States. Assessing the Threat offers such analysis, as well as concrete suggestions and crisis management practices for government and military leaders in Washington, D.C., Beijing, and Taipei.

Michael D. Swaine is a senior associate in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s China Program. His most recent book is Managing Sino-American Crises: Case Studies and Analysis (Carnegie Endowment, 2006).

Andrew N. D. Yang has been on faculty at National Sun Yat-sen University since 1986, and is the Secretary General of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies (CAPS).

Evan S. Medeiros is currently a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation in the Washington, D.C. office.

Oriana Skylar Mastro was a junior fellow with the China Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 2006-2007.

Reviews for this publication

"Assessing the Threat has hit its target and should be a travelling companion to everyone contemplating to ply the rough waters of the Taiwan Strait issue."
—The China Quarterly

“Thorough, stimulating and often provocative, the chapters in this volume provide a unique assessment of the complexities surrounding Taiwan’s security. They examine the logic driving China’s security policy and emerging military capabilities, strategy and doctrine, Taiwan’s evolving defense capabilities and posture, the implications for U.S. military deployments in the west Pacific, issues of escalation control should war break out, and the potential future patterns of East Asia’s security environment. These chapters coalesce to form the most important book yet published on this critical security problem.”
—Paul Godwin, Professor of International Affairs, National War College (ret.)

“No recent development has aroused more concern among US policymakers and military officials than China's military buildup, which is viewed as a threat to Taiwan and which contains the potential for war between China and the US. But what is the nature of the threat? This multifaceted and in-depth examination by top experts provides the best available answer to one of the most critical issues today.”
—Ellis Joffe, Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem