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U.S. think tank lists U.S.-China risks over Taiwan for 1st time

ROC Central News Agency

2018/12/18 14:20:31

New York, Dec. 17 (CNA) The Council on Foreign Relations included a possible crisis between the United States and China over Taiwan for the first time in its annual Preventive Priorities Survey, the latest version of which was issued Monday.

The report classifies potential crises into three tiers, and a possible U.S.-China crisis over Taiwan was put in Tier II, which means its impact on U.S. interests would be high but the likelihood of it happening in 2019 is low.

According to the Council's definition, a high impact on U.S. interests refers to contingencies that directly threaten the U.S. homeland, a defense treaty ally, or a vital strategic interest, and thus is likely to trigger a major U.S. military response.

The report saw only one potential contingency involving the U.S. and China -- an armed confrontation in the South China Sea -- as a Tier I priority, which means the impact is high and the likelihood is moderate.

A "moderate" likelihood means the contingency has an even chance of happening in 2019.

"The possibility of a similar confrontation in the East China Sea involving China and Japan, which had been a high priority in recent surveys, was considered unlikely in 2019, and thus was not included," the report said.

"For the first time, however, a U.S.-China crisis over Taiwan was included in the survey and ranked as a Tier II concern," the report added.

China is expected to intensify its political and economic pressure campaign on Taiwan ahead of Taiwan's presidential election in 2020, according to the report.

The Council on Foreign Relations sent the survey in early November to more than 6,000 U.S. government officials, foreign policy experts, and academics asking them to estimate the impact on U.S. interests and likelihood of each contingency, and about 500 responded.

The survey report listed 30 potential crises that could affect U.S. interests and four were newly listed, including the potential conflict over Taiwan.

In addition to the crisis over the South China Sea, the Council also ranked as Tier I contingencies a highly disruptive cyberattack on critical U.S. infrastructure and networks and an armed confrontation between Iran and the U.S. or one of its allies over Iran's involvement in regional conflicts and support of militant proxy groups.

In the report, Paul B. Stares, director of the Council's Center for Preventive Action, and General John W. Vessey, senior fellow for conflict prevention, described the survey as a unique way to provide "a regular, forward-looking assessment of conflict and instability around the world in a way that helps policymakers focus attention on the most important risks."

(By Ozzy Ying and Frances Huang)
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