April 15: US-Japan-Taiwan Relations in 2021

April 15: US-Japan-Taiwan Relations in 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021 from 9:00 AM-10:30 AM (EST)

Webcast Only

Event Description:

The Global Taiwan Institute (GTI) is pleased to invite you to a virtual conversation on US-Japan-Taiwan relations in 2021. In the near-decade since the rise of Xi Jinping in 2012, much has been made about China’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy and growing military threat to the Indo-Pacific region, particularly to Taiwan. Over the last year, these concerns have only grown more pronounced, as Beijing has sought to subvert Taiwan’s political system and media through consistent influence operations and disinformation campaigns, and to intimidate the island’s citizens through increasing frequent air incursions into Taiwan’s territory. For the United States and Japan—Taiwan’s most important democratic and security partners in the region—this aggression has not gone unnoticed. In a recent US-Japan 2+2 summit, the two nations reportedly acknowledged the threat presented by China and reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining peace and security in the Taiwan Strait. These unprecedented public disclosures of shared concerns are likely to continue during the upcoming meeting between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. This virtual seminar will explore the opportunities and challenges facing the US, Japan, and Taiwan as they seek to expand cooperation and work together to challenge an increasingly aggressive China.

Panelists will include Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow Dean Cheng, GTI Senior Non-Resident Fellow J. Michael Cole, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Heino Klinck, Kobe University Professor Tosh Minohara, and Stimson Center Senior Fellow Yuki Tatsumi. The event will be moderated by GTI Executive Director Russell Hsiao.

The event webcast will be broadcasted live on our website and YouTube on Thursday, April 15 at 9 AM (EST). Questions for the panel may either be sent by e-mail to contact@globaltaiwan.org or through the chat function on the YouTube page. 

The Panelists:

Dean Cheng is a Senior Research Fellow with the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, where he specializes in China’s military and foreign policy, in particular its relationship with the rest of Asia and with the United States. He previously worked for 13 years as a senior analyst, first with Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), the Fortune 500 specialist in defense and homeland security, and then with the China Studies division of the Center for Naval Analyses, the federally funded research institute. Before entering the private sector, Cheng studied China’s defense-industrial complex for a congressional agency, the Office of Technology Assessment, as an analyst in the International Security and Space Program. Cheng has appeared on public affairs shows such as John McLaughlin’s One on Oneand programs on National Public Radio, CNN International, BBC World Service and International Television News (ITN). He has been interviewed by or provided commentary for publications such as Time magazine, The Washington PostFinancial TimesBloomberg NewsJane’s Defense Weekly, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Cheng earned a bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University in 1986 and studied for a doctorate at MIT. 

J. Michael Cole is a Taipei-based policy analyst. He is a Senior Non-Resident Fellow with GTI; Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the Taiwan Studies Programme at the University of Nottingham, UK; Research Associate with the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China; Chief Editor of Taiwan Sentinel; and Assistant Coordinator for the Forum 2000’s China working group. From 2014-2016, he was an employee of the Thinking Taiwan Foundation, a think tank founded by Tsai Ing-wen where he was Chief Editor of Thinking Taiwan. He was Deputy News Chief and a columnist/reporter at the Taipei Times from 2006-2013. Prior to relocating to Taiwan in 2005, he was an intelligence officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in Ottawa. He has a master’s degree in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, South China Morning Post, Christian Science Monitor, Globe and Mail, Lowy Interpreter, National Interest, China Brief, the Age, Jane’s Defence Weekly, CNN, Brookings Taiwan-US Quarterly, and others. He is a regular commentator on Al Jazeera, BBC News, CNN, and others, and is a consultant for various governments and the defense industry. He is the author of several books about Taiwan. The latest, Cross-Strait Relations Since 2016: The End of the Illusion, was published by Routledge in 2020.

Heino Klinck is a global strategist, business executive, retired US Army Colonel, former diplomat, and international defense policy expert. His extensive experience includes over two decades abroad; leading global strategy efforts in a Fortune 100 company; senior political-military roles in the Pentagon; analytical and operational responsibilities in the intelligence community; and multiple diplomatic postings in Europe and Asia.  Most recently, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia. Currently, he provides strategic insights and solutions focused on market access, strategic positioning and relationship building, navigating government bureaucracies, and identifying strategic growth opportunities through his private consulting company, Klinck Global LLC.

Tosh Minohara is Professor of International Relations and Security Studies at the Graduate School of Law and Politics at Kobe University, where he holds a joint appointment with the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies. He received his B.A. in International Relations from University of California, Davis, and his Ph.D. in Political Science and Diplomatic History from Kobe University. He is the Founder and Chairman of the nonprofit organization, Research Institute of Indo-Pacific Affairs (RIIPA) as well as the Senior Advisor to the consulting firm KREAB. In the past, he has held various visiting appointments with universities such as Harvard University, University of Iowa (Noguchi Distinguished Fellow), University of Oxford, Leiden University, Stockholm University, Kuwait University, Seoul National University, Inha University (ROK), National Taipei University, Academia Sinica (Taiwan), and most recently, Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology (ITAM-Yoshida Shigeru Chair). His core academic interests deal with the diplomatic, political, and security dimensions of the US-Japan relationship. He has published many monographs, edited volumes, and articles. He is the recipient of both the Shimizu Hiroshi Prize and the Japan Research Award.

Yuki Tatsumi is a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the Japan Program at the Stimson Center. Before joining Stimson, Tatsumi worked as a research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and as the special assistant for political affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Washington. Tatsumi’s most recent publications include Balancing Between Nuclear Deterrence and Disarmament: Views from the Next Generation (ed.; Stimson Center, 2018) Lost in Translation? U.S. Defense Innovation and Northeast Asia (Stimson Center, 2017). She is also the editor of four earlier volumes of the Views from the Next Generation series: Peacebuilding and Japan (Stimson Center, 2017), Japan as a Peace Enabler (Stimson Center, 2016), Japan’s Global Diplomacy (Stimson Center, 2015), and Japan’s Foreign Policy Challenges in East Asia (Stimson Center, 2014). In September 2006, Tatsumi testified before the House Committee on International Relations. She is a recipient of the 2009 Yasuhiro Nakasone Incentive Award. In 2012, she was awarded the Letter of Appreciation from the Ministry of National Policy of Japan for her contribution in advancing mutual understanding between the United States and Japan. A native of Tokyo, Tatsumi holds a B.A. in liberal arts from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan and an M.A. in international economics and Asian studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

The Moderator:

Russell Hsiao is the Executive Director of GTI, Senior Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation, and Adjunct Fellow at Pacific Forum. He is a former Penn Kemble Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy and Visiting Scholar at the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia. He previously served as a Senior Research Fellow at The Project 2049 Institute and National Security Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Prior to those positions he was the editor of China Brief at The Jamestown Foundation from October 2007- to July 2011 and a Special Associate in the International Cooperation Department at the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. While in law school, he clerked within the Office of the Chairman at the Federal Communications Commission and the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Mr. Hsiao received his J.D. and certificate from the Law and Technology Institute at the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law where he served as the editor-in-chief of the Catholic University’s Journal of Law and Technology. He received a B.A. in international studies from the American University’s School of International Service and the University Honors Program.

Event Summary

On April 15, 2021, the Global Taiwan Institute (GTI) hosted a virtual seminar on US-Japan-Taiwan relations in 2021. Five experts joined the panel discussion, including Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation; J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based policy analyst and senior non-resident fellow at GTI; Heino Klinck, a retired US army colonel and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia; Tosh Minohara, a professor of International Relations and Security Studies at Kobe University; and Yuki Tatsumi, a senior fellow and co-director of the East Asia Program and Director of the Japan Program at the Stimson Center. The experts shared their views on trilateral US-Japan-Taiwan relations, security issues, and US-China diplomacy. The discussion and subsequent Q&A sesssion were moderated by GTI Executive Director Russell Hsiao.

Hsiao began by contextualizing the security situation around Taiwan and the current positions of the US and Japan. He then turned the discussion over to each panelist for their remarks.

First, J. Michael Cole provided an overview of the security situation in the Taiwan Strait. He explained that the recent uptick in aggressive Chinese military activity began in early 2020 following Tsai Ing-wen’s reelection. Nationalistic and belligerent remarks from Chinese officials have increased in frequency. Furthermore, the aggression has continued to ramp up after US President Joe Biden was sworn in in early 2021. Cole then pointed out that the military threat to Taiwan is dependent on China’s behavior, whether rational or irrational. He emphasized that additional efforts to prepare the Taiwanese military and society for war must be made without causing a panic or reinforcing PLA psychological warfare narratives. He also warned of potential conflict flashpoints—such as a maritime collision or a drone shootdown—as well as the potential for Chinese gray zone warfare targeting Taiwanese infrastructure.

Next, Yuki Tatsumi provided a Japanese perspective on Taiwan’s security, explaining that Japan has watched recent developments with concern. She pointed out that Japan and Taiwan share deep cultural and economic ties, and also maintain nonofficial military contacts via retired JSDF two-star generals. So far, the Japan-Taiwan relationship has focused on best practice exchanges for disaster relief and pandemic response, though Tatsumi also added that coast guard cooperation is another avenue of potential growth in the relationship. In terms of domestic Japanese politics, Tatsumi pointed out that there is significant political support for a close relationship with Taiwan, and that right-wing parties in particular tend to spurn closer ties with China in favor of cooperation with Taiwan.

Analyzing Chinese military trends and implications for regional security, Dean Cheng noted that PLA budgets have risen consistently in recent years, in keeping with China’s goal of fielding a fully modernized military by 2027. Cheng went on to describe the concentration and scale of Chinese naval and air forces, as well as a number of key innovations made by the PLA. For example, the DF-21 and DF-26 missiles have innovative anti-ship applications. Furthermore, the Chinese military is the first in the world to establish a Strategic Support Force to coordinate operations across land, air, sea, space, and in the cyber and electronic warfare fields. Cheng explained that these developments have significantly increased the risk to American assets operating near the Chinese littoral. Cheng also pointed out that Taiwanese security is inextricably linked to Japanese security, since a Chinese-held Taiwan would directly threaten Japan’s sea lines of communication (SLOCs).

Next, Heino Klinck discussed some of the challenges and prospects for US-Japan-Taiwan trilateral security cooperation. According to Klinck, the United States, Japan, and Taiwan have been pushed towards security cooperation by Chinese behavior, including provocative military actions, cyberwar campaigns, and COVID-19 obfuscation. He described a gradual shift in Japanese opinions on Chinese aggression predicated on the realization that Taiwanese security is fundamentally linked to Japanese security. Klinck also emphasized the importance of the April 16, 2021 meeting between US President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, in which Taiwan security issues will play an important role. Finally, Klinck advocated for increased cooperation on military interoperability, coast guard training, and Taiwanese intra-governmental security.

Tosh Minohara then covered US-Japan relations and provided some historical context. He described how US-Japan relations are very warm, but maintained that Japan will have to take on new responsibilities as a regional security provider, which will require a paradigm shift in the Japanese mentality. He echoed Klinck’s emphasis on the April 16, 2021 Suga-Biden meeting, further positing that the event will serve to hammer out the details of regional security burdens. He critiqued the attachment to the “business as usual” status quo held by Japanese businessmen and politicians, arguing that a strategic vision of the future will be critical to Japan’s strength, particularly as China becomes more aggressive. Finally, Minohara called for an expansion of membership in the Quad, potentially including South Korea and an ASEAN nation. He also argued for a cautious US approach to Taiwan flashpoints, a Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act, and a Tokyo-Taipei security hotline for crisis management.
Hsiao thanked the panelists and turned to a discussion period followed by audience Q&A.

This summary was written by GTI Spring 2021 Intern Gavin Stark.

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