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US Military Response to Chinese Invasion of Taiwan

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Full resolution: "If necessary to maintain its independence from an invading China, the United States ought to mount a conventional military defense of Taiwan."

Burden of proof is shared. Whichever participant makes the better case, on balance, ought to be awarded victory.

Round 1
Pro
My opening argument consists of two sections: (1) What is at stake (2) How defense of Taiwan is relevant to said stakes.

(1) THE WORLD ORDER

The postwar order has been defined by US leadership, collective security arrangements, free and rules-based trade, and defense of liberal values. Often, this order is referred to as the Liberal International Order (LIO).

(a) Collective security
NATO is the best-known case of LIO’s security order. Backed by a collective security guarantee, NATO has bound Europe’s democracies together, “decreased the chances of the brutal conflicts that dominated the continent through the end of World War II,” and defended against the Soviet Union and World War III. (Adm. Stavridis) United by common cause, NATO’s European members came to form the European Union, another body for international cooperation and security. These forms of cooperation have enabled a zone of peace and prosperity in Europe, no small part of why the EU ranks as one of the world’s top economies, clocking in at $18B in 2022 GPD. (IMF) The United States has buttressed stability in many other regions of the globe, as well, committing via bilateral defense treaties to protect South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. (State Department)

A critical benefit of US-led security architectures is their calming effect on nuclear proliferation. Today, 9 countries possess a total of 3,700 active nuclear weapons, a figure much reduced from the 1986 zenith of over 70,000. (Wikipedia) US security guarantees to countries like South Korea, Japan, Germany, and more keep otherwise-vulnerable states from reaching for nuclear weapons to preserve their safety. (Chicago Council)

Through collective commitment, LIO has wrought a stable world order and suppressed the proliferation of nuclear weapons. A breakdown of this order “would return [the world] to the condition it was in at the end of the 19th century, with competing great powers clashing over inevitably intersecting and overlapping spheres of interest.” (Brookings)

(b) Free, Rules-Based Trade
The liberal economic order promotes free trade among nations, a paradigm that minimizes discriminatory trade policies (e.g. tariffs) and maintains forums for adjudication of disputes. (Office of the Historian) Perhaps most important among these institutions is the WTO, whose Appellate Body serves as the de facto ‘World Court’ for economic issues, laying down a canon of definitive case law that reduces the occurrence of trade disputes among member nations. (Cambridge)
By reducing the cost of international trade and regularizing the ‘rules of the road,’ the liberal economic order promotes confidence in overseas commerce, generating greater prosperity overall. These strong foundations spurred “unprecedented growth in prosperity, lifting billions out of poverty” since the end of World War II. (Brookings)

In addition to greater prosperity, LIO’s emphasis on reduced trade barriers has enabled a high degree of economic interdependence between nations, such that conflict is less likely: “Nations form a web of trading alliances, which creates financial incentive not only to keep peace with trading partners, but also to protect them from being attacked so as not to disrupt trade.” This corresponds neatly with the postwar trend of steadily declining interstate war occurrences and steadily increasing economic interdependence. (Stanford)

(c) Liberal Values
The final – and possibly most important – element of LIO are the liberal values it promotes: democracy, civil liberties, and human rights.

One need only recall high-profile international events of the last few years to find evidence of this. Recall the long-running drama of the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, which prompted intense concern from the international community, eventually resulting in limited application of US force to punish the Assad regime. (Arms Control Association) Western responses to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (BBC) and persecution of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (BBC) also stand as recent reminders of LIO’s in-built revulsion to anti-democratic repression.


(2) TAIWAN: A LINE IN THE SAND

Thus far, I have listed elements of world order the US defends. Now, I explain how China and a hypothetical invasion of Taiwan threaten this order.

(a) Clash of Visions
Whereas the US-led order is characterized by collective security guarantees, liberal trade policies, and defense of freedoms and human rights, a world ordered by China would be less secure, autarkic and poorer, and less free.

(i) Security
On multiple fronts, China has proven itself the enemy of LIO’s security arrangements. Its support for destabilizing rogue regimes, such as North Korea (CFR), Iran (NYT), and Russia (WaPo) grants bad actors reprieves from LIO’s economic sanctions and political pressure, enabling continued aggression, nuclear proliferation, and human rights abuses.

In its maritime backyard, the South China Sea, Beijing asserts ownership of 90% of the waters, a direct violation of international law of the seas. (Lowy Institute) China is pursuing a hegemonic sphere of influence, using aggressive military maneuvers and construction of artificial islands to force its neighbors into submission. (CFR)

(ii) Trade
Though its economic rise is owed in large part to LIO’s free trade regime, China has adopted “mercantilist” policies, subsidizing strategic domestic industries, erecting protectionist trade barriers, and issuing over $1T in loans abroad, all for the purpose of using economic “coercion” to “browbeat” countries into compliance. (Foreign Affairs)

China has also pursued a foreign trade expansion program – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – that seeks to pour Chinese capital into infrastructure and development projects in neighboring countries. Particularly for “poorer nations with weaker credit ratings,” BRI can be a gateway to “debt traps” that place them under Chinese influence. (Carnegie) This predatory dynamic, coupled with Beijing’s attempts at claiming the entirety of the South China Sea – a maritime region that hosts over $3T in annual trade and 40% of global liquified gas trade (CFR) – casts China as a rising power in pursuit of an exclusive sphere of economic influence, directly antithetical to LIO’s free trade practices.

(iii) Autocracy Now
In open hostility to LIO’s liberal values, China uses its growing influence to protect and export its authoritarian system. The flow of capital from BRI is accompanied by the transmission of Chinese “political and cultural values,” with notable examples including the export of digital authoritarianism to Tanzania and Uganda and the flooding of Kenyan airwaves with Chinese propaganda. (Foreign Affairs) Beijing has also used its economic influence to silence or coerce major corporations into implicitly accepting its aggressive claims against democracies like Hong Kong and Taiwan, signaling Beijing believes it has “the right to control the speech of any individual anywhere in the world.” (Foreign Affairs)

Most egregiously, China’s ongoing genocide of its Uyghur Muslim population (Frontline), repression of Hong Kong, and growing internal repression (World Report) have been met with little in the way of significant economic reprisal from LIO. Thanks to China’s deep interconnection with the global economy, Western governments are hesitant to impose punishing sanctions in response to Beijing’s atrocities. This trend – authoritarianism shielded by economic power – will only intensify as China’s influence on the global economy grows.

(b) Why Taiwan?
China’s challenge to the US-led world order presents us with two alternatives; clearly, it is preferable that in a contest between US and Chinese visions for world order, the US vision wins out. But: why Taiwan?

(i) An Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier
Taiwan represents a “fulcrum of power in East Asia,” occupying a key position from which to project force, so much so that Taiwan has been described as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” If conquered, “Taiwan could become a base for continued Chinese territorial expansion,” enabling China to blockade and bully any who resist its hegemonic claims. (Foreign Affairs)

Once China has leveraged Taiwan to establish a sphere of domination in East Asia, the US will face not a regional challenger to LIO, but a global challenger. Then, the costs of defending LIO will be steeper. Put simply, to delay the day of decision is to raise the costs of resistance.

(ii) US Credibility at Stake
For US allies and enemies, US failure to decisively intervene on behalf of Taiwan would signal “that the United States cannot be relied upon,” leading allies to “accommodate China, leading to the dissolution of U.S. alliances” or, even worse, “seek nuclear weapons in a bid to become strategically self-reliant.” (Foreign Affairs)

Damage to US credibility would not be limited to allies and enemies in Asia, either. If the United States was unwilling to commit to Taiwan’s independence, the glue that holds LIO’s security architecture and nuclear non-proliferation regime together – US security guarantees – would lose its staying power. LIO, no longer credibly backed by a superpower guarantor, would fray and collapse. Stability in once peaceful regions would be much reduced, and nuclear proliferation would be predictable and tragic.

CONCLUSION
In the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, nothing less than the future of the world order would be on the line. Whether the US-led order, premised on mutual security, shared prosperity, and human rights – or the vision of Beijing, a less secure world, an economically divided world, and a less free world – will win out in the coming decades would depend largely on US defense of Taiwan. If the United States failed to come to Taiwan’s defense, China would gain a forward base for power projection, and the United States would lose the credibility it needs to uphold a world order that has served the common good for over 7 decades.
Con
Disclaimer and preface: I am not trolling here by posting a rap/poem. This is my genuine debate. I am partly playing devil's advocate this debate, I am not a CCP sympathiser and spokesperson of any kind. Read the poem/rap as if it were multiple souls of previous leaders of China combined with the current one rapping towards the leaders of the US as well as Columbus.

Beat to Loop if you wish as background music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfriszkzYWE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

China was founded long ago, upon people unifying,
Sure there was invasion but it was less dying more crying,
We understand that human life matters and all the spying that you and your allies accuse us of's something we aren't even denying,
We don't print media in our nation speaking ill of your compliance in the CIA missions abroad we know about but neither raise sirens nor arms in violence,
When your nation's founded on rape and pillaging, spare us mercy when a virus happens to fuck our country up, we're sorry but don't get pious,
We never bring up your history at UN discussions of alliance,
Yet at any opportunity you demonise the nations that dare respond with defiance,
You spread far and wide how we treat Uyghurs, let our worst moments define us,
We don't say shit about Iraq, that's around 200k deaths and you still won't stand beside us,
We're cool with your ego, America, we respect our fellow giants,
But are you about to act like the Islands that you colonised had soveiregnty somehow worth more than Taiwan's?
Lest we remind, twice in the same stanza that your nation's history's as warped to look good as the Bible's.

When you have 9/11 and retaliate to Hussein, we condemned you, madman on the loose!
But if you read that same source it tells you that we were also the country who made Russia and others maintain truce!
Yet when Russia invades Ukraine you play pretty swan to goose,
Let me guess? You had Iraq's sovereign blessing to hang Hussein on the noose?
Don't play coy with us, we never once fucked with you, we know your power, we don't wish your ego bruised,
But if you want to play the hero if we go for Taiwan, your military best not send boots,
We've left you in peace for long enough, if you don't think we're strong and tough, you must be downing Russian booze!

We understand the game has changed and wars are economic, son,
You step to us with military action, we'll lose the battle if need me, but our war is won,
You finally overstepped, gave us reason to literally justify a bomb, your lack of strategy is worrisome,
We got lots of documented war crimes of yours, ties with Taliban could lead to shit astronomical,
You're stepping in waters you don't even understand, are you suicidal or diabolical?
We're not threatening, we're promising, if you're forcing this, you're horrible,
You send drones that slaugthered thousands of Pakistanis including children and what did we do to you? Do you recall?
Did we overstep and tell the world to sanction? Not at all.
We understand that war is war but you rely on heroic myths while speak of the chronicle,
If you really think you're 'defenders' that's not simply moronic and illogical, it's straight up ironical.

We respect you Americans for all these years and what do you do in return?
Pick at any chance to demonise us and surprise us with ego at every turn,
We get it, you're the needy younger cousin but please understand we never gave you wedgies or a bruised reputation, we let you fester churn,
But you step to Taiwan, militaristically and your shitposting social media will reignite #feeltheburn
We even call it Taiwan to set you at ease, it's Chinese Taipei, please educate yourself, these are our terms,
'World speaks English' that's very cute, We have one seventh minimum speaking Mandarin; you parasitic worm,
You need to spread in other cultures, influence them with your own, we need only trade and earn,
We practically own the entire African continent by deals, let alone Asia and the Middle East, so yes squirm, baby squirm.
We let you be, militaristically, economically and invade the world sadistically but we do it once to Taipei and you get all stern?
Who do you think you're scolding, respect your elder, little boy it's not your time to be ashes in an urn,
It's not the hill you want to die on, we'll leave your Western world to live in peace no lesson learned,
If you want to educate yourself on consequences and the art of war go ahead and get lit up, dry fern.
Round 2
Pro
I’d like to thank my opponent for an entertaining opening argument. Even though it is effectively a diss track aimed at the United States and, by extension, my case, it is a fun experience, especially with the music.

Fun aside, the delivery of an argument through lyrics has made it difficult for me to identify clear arguments to rebut. Since I must interpret RM’s lyrics for meaning, there is a risk I may be too cautious or too generous in summarizing his points. Whereas in typical essay prose, the writer would make explicit how a claim supports a conclusion, RM’s diss track, I think it’s fair to say, makes many claims but ties them to few meaningful conclusions.

Still, in what follows, I believe I have struck a good balance between under-interpreting and over-interpreting the meaning of RM’s lyrics.

A Question of Moral Standing

(a) Interpreting the Diss Track

To boil RM’s sick rhymes into a single idea: “The United States does bad stuff, too, so you have no moral standing when it comes to Taiwan.”


We never bring up your history at UN discussions of alliance,
Yet at any opportunity you demonise the nations that dare respond with defiance,
You spread far and wide how we treat Uyghurs, let our worst moments define us,
In my view, the overall aim of the diss track is to accuse the United States of moral hypocrisy. Frequently, RM - speaking for China - says they are quiet when the US does bad things, but when the situation is reversed, America is on its high horse.



But are you about to act like the Islands that you colonised had soveiregnty somehow worth more than Taiwan's?

Let me guess? You had Iraq's sovereign blessing to hang Hussein on the noose?
Bringing the issue specifically to Taiwan, RM notes the United States has violated the sovereignty of many states throughout its history. Again, the accusation here is hypocrisy. How dare the United States prevent China from committing the same sins?

(b) Cast the First Stone

This line of reasoning - which is at times referred to as whataboutism - distracts us from the real questions. If we accept that the United States has done bad things, how does that affect the issue of Taiwan? In my first round, I made a comprehensive case as to why the defense of Taiwan was essential for the future of the world order. Just because a superpower with a checkered past would be the defender of that order does not make the case any less true.

If we accept that wars of conquest are bad - which my opponent and I seem to agree on - then we should not want Taiwan to be subjugated by China. If US intervention is necessary to prevent this bad thing from happening, we should want said intervention to occur. It should not matter that the United States has, in the distant past, engaged in wars of conquest.

If we were to accept the notion that the United States ought not come to Taiwan’s defense because it lacks some sort of moral standing, we would be committing ourselves to a truly absurd position. This logic leads us to places like, “Germany committed genocide during WWII, therefore, it may not stand against genocides in the future.” If it’s worth criticizing a country for its ugly past, it’s worth taking steps to prevent history repeating itself.

The much more reasonable position, the position I advocate, is acknowledging past sins without letting guilt or shame prevent necessary, just actions. The United States can acknowledge that its 19th and 20th century acts of forceful conquest were wrong, and, at the same time, commit itself to preventing other states from doing the same. There is no conflict between the two. The choice is a false one.

Conclusion
In my opening round, I made a wide-ranging case in support of US defense of Taiwan. I explained that the US-led order has brought strategic stability to key regions via security agreements, boosted common prosperity through lowered trade barriers, and promoted liberal norms using political and economic tools. I then explained that Chinese competition with the United States gravely threatens this state of affairs and that Taiwan is a critical flash point, thus justifying US defense of the island democracy.

My opponent responded with a diss track, that in essence, argued the United States’ past wrongs rendered it without the moral standing to come to Taiwan’s defense. In my response, I have demonstrated the absurdity of this reasoning, concluding that the United States need not have a clean record to do the right thing. Having removed this objection, there remain no further claims against the course of action I advocate.

Con
R = Round

I am primarily going to reiterate my R1 with more elaboration as to why Pro's R1 fails. I believe this is more necessary and foundational to my case than particularly addressing Pro's Round 2.

China is not a very active enemy of US in any militaristic sense.

Pro frames his R1 as if China is working very much to 'destroy' the West. At most, China is ensuring that the Western influence on culture doesn't go too far in Asia (which actually goes as far east as New Zealand and has even influenced Japan and South Korea's shift to social democracy). Even during the Iraq war and all the times before that where the US colonised places, China did not stop US directly no matter how much it disagreed with the US's decision to engaged in said war/colonisation. In World War II, China was both saved by US and appreciative of the help, in fact there is almost no real example of China ever militaristically harming the US. 

If the US really wishes Taiwan to be the 'hill to die on' then China has every justification to start becoming aggressive to the US. The retaliation to militaristic action can be all sorts of non-militaristic action, since militaristic action is seen as the most severe (it kills people directly). Pro keeps framing the relations between US and China as if China is this relentless thorn in US's side but that is simply not the case:

How Trade with China Benefits the United States

It supports US jobs. American companies exported $164 billion in goods and services to China in 2019, constituting 7.4 percent of US exports. While expanding foreign trade can disrupt US employment, trade with China also creates and supports a significant number of American jobs. Exports to China support nearly 900,000 US jobs, and Chinese companies invested in the United States employ over 160,000 workers.

It helps US companies compete globally. In addition to exporting goods to China, US companies do a significant amount of business on the ground there. According to official US data, sales by American companies invested in China reached $379 billion in 2019, the last year of available data. That is more than double the value of US exports to China. Companies can then reinvest in R&D and develop cutting edge technologies, which contributes to the United States’ position as a leader in innovation.
Investment in China is increasingly important for US companies to access the growing Chinese market. For many products, it is critical for companies to be close to customers.

Commercial relations with China will only become more important. The IMF predicts that China will grow 4.4 percent in 2022 and 5.1 percent in 2023, while the world economy will grow only 3.6 percent. With China being a driver of global growth, it will be difficult for any multinational company to be globally competitive without being successful there. Policies that hinder US-China commercial relations may come at the expense of US companies vis-à-vis their other foreign competitors that are investing heavily in the China market.


In fact, if anybody has been an abrasive bully to the other, it is consistently the US who has bullied China into caving into its demands, Taiwan itself was granted independence because the US blackmailed China to do so in the first place.

1996: Third Taiwan Strait Crisis
With presidential elections looming in Taiwan, the PRC conducted military exercises and ballistic missile tests in the Taiwan Strait, prompting stern warnings from the United States. As tensions rose, the United States sent two carrier battle groups into the Strait, which may have helped calm the situation. Lee Teng-hui was re-elected President in Taiwan’s first ever direct presidential election.
1997: Jiang Zemin’s Visit to the United States
Chinese President Jiang Zemin came to the United States, the first state visit by a Chinese leader in over a decade. The trip suggested that U.S.-China relations were getting back on track.

1998: Clinton’s Visit to China
The year after Jiang Zemin came to the United States, President Bill Clinton paid a return trip to China for a summit meeting. During his visit, he stated that the United States held to a “three no’s policy” regarding Taiwan. By this he meant that the United States does not support Taiwan’s independence, “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” policies, or Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is required.

1999: Bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade
During NATO airstrikes on Serbia, U.S. planes accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three and wounding twenty. This sparked a wave of anti-U.S. demonstrations throughout China, with multiple attacks on U.S. diplomatic properties, in particular the embassy in Beijing. Tensions eased after an apology from President Bill Clinton and the visit of a special envoy to Beijing.

Not only does the US pick and choose when it does and doesn't care about Taiwanese independence, to manipulate China to get in its good vs bad books but the last and only militaristic aggression between US and China was when the US accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. China dealt with this very amicably vs what they could have done. 

The US keeps saying China is its enemy and that China is out to 'ruin the West' but this mantra is just not true. If China really had it in for the Western World, it could be going about things much more aggressively than it is. China invading Taiwan would barely affect anything at all other than that it would be called Chinese Taipei and of course the Taiwanese people will need to conform to China's laws.

When you really think about it, who actually is the aggressor here? If China suddenly decided it had a soft spot for a US colony (there are indeed multiple, see my R1 link). Pro talks about a 'clash of visions' but in reality we have US's preference of its form of leadership and China's preference at odds with each other. For the US to go to a country that Bill Clinton himself basically allowed China to claim as its own. 


Extreme hypocrisy from US (Clinton included)

When it suits the US, it is not only the aggressor that ignores other nations' sovereignty (as recent as Trump's CIA assassinating the Iranian general) but furthermore, it doesn't even remotely consistently defend nations in favor of democracy. It just chooses whatever suits its agenda.

When it suited the US, Clinton was happy to completely neglect Taiwan and other places under threat of being invaded, then over 20 years later, Biden just wakes up one morning and decides the US cares so much about Taiwan? Really, what changed so much? I can tell you what changed, the US decided it can afford to bully China now, back then it didn't want to bully what could be a great ally.

The Chinese today are not seeking to destroy Americans’ way of life, as the Soviets were said to be doing in the 1940s. Indeed, the Chinese accept fundamental aspects of our capitalist marketplace, and they have similar interests in halting climate change, fighting terrorists, and combatting pandemics. China should be regarded as a serious rival as well as a crucial partner.

The US keeps conflating China with Russia just because China doesn't want to make Russia its enemy. If you were in China's shoes, you would also want to be neutral with Russia, they historically have been very close allies that grew slightly apart over time. China doesn't hate the US, it just is closer to Russia; these are not the same thing. It would be like the US and Canada or even the US and UK suddenly being told that the US is evil if it doesn't part ways with the other, if the other is not to the taste of China. China would never ever suggest that. The US is entitled to its alliances and colonies, China never stood in the way of that. In fact as close to China as the Philippenes, China did not obstruct US colonisation.

The United States exercised formal colonial rule over the Philippines, its largest overseas colony, between 1899 and 1946. American economic and strategic interests in Asia and the Pacific were increasing in the late 1890s in the wake of an industrial depression and in the face of global, interimperial competition. Spanish colonialism was simultaneously being weakened by revolts in Cuba and the Philippines, its largest remaining colonies.

Let's be crystal clear here... In Asian territory, the US colonised Philippenes entirely against the will of the people (it was not an amicable colonisation) for 47-48 years! China didn't disrupt the US doing so, it let the US be. This is how much respect China has for US, this is how ridiculously hypocritical it will actually be when and if the US decides that Taiwan requires risking a World War III (and Russia would absolutley salivate at the idea, it wants China to really hate the US, given the situation in Ukraine and China's neutrality).

This will be a Cold War II or World War III, the semantics don't matter the death toll and unnecessary loss of just everything (worlwide relations, peace, collaboration even in science, all of it) are just not needed.

The US has no right to bully China here. There is literally no precedence at all for the US to say China is the aggressor even in Taiwan, the US is the only reason Taiwan is independent in the first place and Clinton changed that tune as soon as it suited the US's agenda.

In actual fact, if China were really a power-hungry invader, they'd have instantly claimed Taiwan as Chinese Taipei as in pure literal colonisation the moment that Clinton allowed them to. If China decides to colonise Taiwan fully and officially, it is not the US's place to bully them out of it.
Round 3
Pro
My thanks to RM for his participation thus far, and for any potential voters still reading. 

After reviewing my opponent’s second round arguments, I think the salient points can be summarized as follows:

  1. China is not a threat to the United States, as evidenced by history and trade benefits.
  2. US commitment to Taiwan has been inconsistent, and Taiwan would be fine if China absorbed it.
  3. The United States is a hypocritical bully and therefore has no moral standing on this matter.
  4. War would be catastrophic.

(1) China is not a threat

My opponent makes use of historical examples and facts about US-Sino trade benefits to argue that China is not a real threat to the United States. I will begin with the historical examples, which are a mix of irrelevant and misleading.

Historical Examples

Starting with the irrelevant: my opponent references decades-old historical cases as evidence of China’s non-threatening orientation, including relations during WWII and Chinese non-intervention in US colonization of island nations, concluding “there is almost no real example of China ever militaristically harming the US.” Putting aside the fact that Chinese forces directly intervened in the Korean War, these events are too far from present day to be meaningful measures of Chinese attitudes toward the United States. Just because 19th century China stood by as the US colonized doesn’t mean China is non-hostile today, any more than that because early Communist China was deeply antagonistic toward the United States China today must be similarly antagonistic. If we want to assess China’s current orientation toward the US, we ought to look to recent history. Therefore, many of my opponent’s historical cases are simply irrelevant to this debate.

So, let’s look at the more recent cases (his most recent cases are in the range of 20 years old). My opponent says China responded “amicably” to US accidental bombing of Beijing’s Embassy in Belgrade, which may be true, depending on how one defines “amicable.” It is certainly true China took no offensive military reaction, though the diplomatic response did not mince words. My opponent also mentions that even though China opposed the US invasion of Iraq, it took no direct actions to stop it.

In both cases, my opponent’s claims are true, depending on how one defines certain adjectives/actions. The usefulness of these claims, however, is minimal. Though China was deeply displeased with both the Belgrade bombing and US invasion of Iraq, it had no capability to respond militarily. At the turn of the millennium, China’s military was geared toward fighting land battles along its borders, distinctly unmodernized, and organizationally unfocused - in other words: in no shape to project force in Europe or the Middle East.

So, if China’s recent history features non-intervention in cases of displeasing US actions, it is because Beijing lacked the capability to intervene, not the will. Recognition of this state of affairs was summed up by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping: “Hide your strength, bide your time, never take the lead.” This mantra referred to a strategy of keeping a low profile on the international stage while developing economically. The consensus now, of course, is that present-day China is done biding its time.

Trade

My opponent correctly identifies that the US and Chinese economies are richer together than they are apart. However, the reality of US-Sino economic interdependence does not change the facts: China is demonstrably pursuing a zone of economic hegemony, and has erected strategic trade barriers that undermine the liberal international economic order. This is one of several components of the Chinese vision for world order, and a reason to fight to preserve LIO, as outlined in R1.

(2) The Status of Taiwan

My opponent claims the US has at times “basically allowed China to claim [Taiwan] as its own,” while at other times defending it from subjugation. Con also states that China conquering Taiwan would barely change “anything at all other than that it would be called Chinese Taipei and of course the Taiwanese people will need to conform to China's laws.”

Consistency of US Support for Taiwan

To a certain extent, claiming that US support for Taiwan has fluctuated is not useful to Con, as it is at the very best adjacent to the hypocrisy/moral standing argument I debunked in R2. Still, it is worth investigating the quality of evidence my opponent puts forth on this point.

To support the claim that the US at one point gave China the green-light to conquer Taiwan, RM references President Clinton’s “3 no’s” policy. However, the 3 no’s was not a green light. It was a way of expressing US support for the status quo in cross-strait relations, a policy that has been in place since 1979. Since US rapprochement with Beijing, policy has been to not support Taiwanese nationhood while at the same time not allow forceful integration of Taiwan into Communist China. The purpose of this policy was to keep the “powder keg from exploding” in the region, disincentivizing both Taipei and Beijing from instigating a crisis. The 3 no’s was just a detailed way of expressing US position against Taiwanese statehood.

Therefore, if present-day China invaded Taiwan, the United States would not be going back on its word if it came to Taiwan’s defense.

Taiwanese Conditions Under Beijing’s Rule

Turning to my opponent’s claim that nothing substantive would change for Taiwan if it were subjugated by Beijing, I say: “let’s ask Hong Kong about that.” When Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, it was under the auspices of the “Joint Declaration,” which guaranteed an arrangement commonly referred to as “One Country, Two Systems.” Basically, this meant that although Hong Kong would be part of China, it would retain substantial right of self-governance, ensuring “freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly … and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.” In the past few years, however, China has unambiguously repudiated this policy, bringing its autocratic way of life to the people of Hong Kong. In addition to open crackdowns on democratic civil society, the Chinese Foreign Minister declared the “Joint Declaration” framework as no longer having “any practical significance.”

Consequently, it is disingenuous to say Beijing’s rule over Taiwan would change nothing for its people. Taiwan would go from a vibrant, ethnically Chinese democracy to a persecuted province, along the same lines as we have seen in Hong Kong.

(3) The Hypocrisy Argument

Con devoted much of his R2 character limit to continued claims of US hypocrisy and lack of moral standing. In fact, his entire second section is ostensibly devoted to this.

I am surprised and disappointed my opponent has chosen to double down on this concept without addressing my rebuttal of it in R2. In the absence of a response on this front, I can only refer voters back to my R2 critique of the hypocrisy argument. If RM chooses to address this in his final round, I hope voters will give weight to the fact that I was denied a chance to defend my critique.

(4) A Catastrophic War

My opponent asserts - without any supporting evidence - that war with China would be disastrous.

“This will be a Cold War II or World War III, the semantics don't matter the death toll and unnecessary loss of just everything (worlwide [sic] relations, peace, collaboration even in science, all of it) are just not needed.”

Given the above sentence is all my opponent puts forth on this idea, I will keep my response proportionately brief.

First, great risks demand correspondingly high stakes - my arguments have satisfied this demand. My R1 argument decisively explained the stakes and Taiwan’s centrality to said stakes. In the absence of a compelling counterargument to my R1, we are justified in concluding that a catastrophic war would be worth fighting, if it became necessary.

Second, the scope of the catastrophe, and who would suffer the most, is far from preordained. Military analysts predict that any conflict would be regional (e.g. Western Pacific), not global, and would likely tend toward “short and sharp,” as US and Chinese conventional counter-targeting abilities give the ability and incentive for both sides to quickly degrade the other’s regional capabilities. In such a short and sharp scenario, the war would no doubt be brutal, but contained.

The same analysis concludes that if both sides committed to a lengthy conflict, the consequences would impact China more than the United States, as warring in the Western Pacific would disproportionately cripple Chinese trade. This is not to say that the United States would emerge unscathed - far from it. Rather, I make this point to maintain appropriate perspective: in the event that a long war is fought over the stakes outlined in R1, the ultimate balance of fortune would likely tilt toward the US, a better outcome than if Washington passively accepted Chinese usurpation of its global leadership.

Regardless, Con has thus far put very little effort into developing the “costs of war” argument, so I will not belabor the point further.

Conclusion
My R1 made a conclusive case for US defense of Taiwan. Neither of Con’s following rounds advanced arguments that undermined said case. RM’s reliance on irrelevant historical cases, allegations of hypocrisy, and a failure to address key counter arguments have left little for me to defend against. As such, I hope I have earned a victory from the voters. Thank you for reading.

Con


This is to be read as from Sun Tzu

You not expect me here, do you American boy, Blum?
Gold in name only, booty smack, go to room!
Night or Day? Why no noon?
Slipper or Cane? I spank with Spoon!
Pre-rap wank so not erect, war genius prep,
Tempo, rhythm, mic-check, tune...

When America be faced with complication,
Does it respond with meditation?
No, it proceeds no hesitation,
Bravery gets the commendation,
It'll shit in your country, no constipation,
Explosion in the cistern, bomb your nation,
Hands dirty but no condemnation,
Makes an artform of desecration,
Invades with no explanation,
What? You thing my rhyme scheme's changing?
Please, I thought this through to destination!

China wins war of information and economic annihilation!
We aint afraid of Yankee ways, set foot on Taipei, family attends your cremation,
Tear your head apart from body, filmed for dark web illumination,
Every single soldier you send our way is sentenced to unfair damnation,
It disgusts me in my soul that your finest soldiers get elimination,
Slaughtered with such indignation, we'll show Putin a genuine special military operation,
Believe me, not a single one walks out alive; we capture, give shrooms, hallucination,
This here is the modern Chinese way, your soldiers high and laughing as they leak location!

You do not have a clue what we can do, you have no built justification, zero foundation,
You defend tiny Taipei for what? Your nations founded on rape and pillaging for colonisation,
America was a colony, your miscalculation will not go unanswered for, we'll give your lieutenants decapitation!
Old school strats never outdated, new school tactics merely are variation!
I'd say we'd wait to watch you squirm but it's not our way to commit patience overestimation.