On September 29, 2022, Ian Easton (Senior Director, Project 2049 Institute) discussed with James Lin (Assistant Professor, University of Washington) Taiwan’s current defense situation, including newly announced budget increases, institutional reforms, and changing threats.
Easton stressed that Taiwan faces a real and increasing threat of invasion from the PRC. However, leadership in Taipei had sidelined the issue in recent years and a sense of complacency was prevalent among Taiwanese citizens: war seemed like an impossibility. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine roused the island as recent public opinion polling depicts Taiwanese citizens demanding more military investment and preparedness from their government. President Biden’s affirmation of U.S. troop support for Taiwan if an invasion by China were to occur marks a further shift in the strategic environment. Easton also focused on Taipei’s increased transparency exposing CCP-sponsored disinformation campaigns and border harassment by the PLA as pronounced improvements in engaging citizens with “gray zone” warfare which Taiwan continues to confront. Although Taipei has made improvements and the international community’s awareness of the tense situation has increased, Easton maintained that Taiwan has much to do.
For more on our interview with Ian Easton, please watch below, or on our YouTube channel.
Ian Easton is a senior director at the Project 2049 Institute and author of The Final Struggle: Inside China’s Global Strategy. He also wrote The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s Defense and American Strategy in Asia. He previously served as a visiting fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA) in Tokyo, a China analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses in Virginia, and a researcher with the Asia Bureau of Defense News. Ian holds an M.A. in China Studies from National Chengchi University in Taiwan and a B.A. in International Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He studied Chinese at Fudan University in Shanghai and National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei.