Robert Farley, a Senior Lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky, has listed Taiwan as the second most likely place where World War III could erupt next year with North Korea the the first most likely place.
In his article published in The National Interest on December 15, the scholar, professor and contributor lays many factors into the table, including the current flexing of military power that China has been showing the world – especially the country’s military activity in the region of Taiwan.
The People’s Liberation Army recently conducted a military exercise on Sunday where an H-6K bomber plane accompanied by two Su-30 fighter jets performed “encirclement” patrols close to the island, South China Morning Post reported. Military observer, Antony Wong Dong, who is based in Macau, called the exercise very unusual.
“The air force is conducting very practical and well-planned patrols near Taiwan to collect up-to-date military intelligence,” he said.
Farley, however, conceded that China does the same flexing of military muscle in other regions that it shares borders with as well, not just in Taiwan.
Another factor that Farley mentioned in the article is the recent aggressive statement coming from a Chinese diplomatic leader, saying the country would attack Taiwan if it allows a United States Navy ship to dock in Kaohsiung. This somehow indicates that some officials in Beijing believe that the military power has tipped in Taiwan’s favor.
“The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force,” diplomat Li Kexin said at an even in the Chinese embassy in Washington on December 8, Reuters reported.
Farley noted that while this perception can still be considered premature, it still remains quite dangerous.
The United States, however, responded with “equanimity,” said Farley, as it condemns China’s move and officially announcing a major arms sale to Taiwan worth $1.45 billion, while the former appealed to the latter’s government to tighten its sanctions to the hermit nation, North Korea.
“For a relationship that demands predictability and careful diplomacy, important players in China and the United States seem eager to embrace uncertainty, which could lead to devastating conflict,” Farley wrote.