The simple answer to the title question is that the U.S. wishes that China will never do so since the U.S. can’t afford to get really involved in a Taiwan Strait war. The U.S. also doesn’t know how to get out of the trap it has set for China but turning out to be a molasses malaise for itself. To keep Taiwan in an ambiguous state to provoke China diplomatically might have been a plausible Taiwan policy when Taiwan’s economy is faring better than mainland China and the Taiwan government is moving out of a military (Marshall law) rule to a ‘one person-one vote’ government system. As decades passed by, mainland China had become the world’s second-largest economy making Taiwan’s economy dependent on trade with the Mainland China. This situation is bucking against Taiwan’s pro-U.S. government’s focus on brainwashing its citizens with an Ill-based ideology - denying Taiwan as a part of China historically and ethnically. Several decades of democracy has also revealed many problems.
An anti-China Taiwan government is what the U.S. wanted but feared at the same time. The U.S. always felt that Taiwan could be used as a diplomatic pawn against China, but Taiwan could also trigger an unwanted war with China if its anti-China tactics got out of hand. This dilemma has become more difficult to handle as China continues to grow faster than the U.S. making the U.S. fearful of China as a competitor in many domains. The U.S. adopted hawkish strategy and launched economic and technological sanctions against China stretching from trade, communication, semiconductor, biotechnology, and space research to artificial intelligence and military weaponry to curtail China’s advances. But the prospect is grim, not only the U.S. can’t rival China alone, it may also not be able to stop China’s growth momentum even with all its Allies. Like Ukraine, Taiwan is not a formal ally of the U.S., and the Taiwan Strait confrontation, a Chinese internal conflict, gives no more legitimate reason for outsiders to intervene like (NATO to Ukraine). If Mainland China would invade Taiwan with any big or small justification, the U.S. and its Allies would have no legal cause to intervene. Any interference would be very costly.
Ian Bremmer's article, Why China Won’t Invade Taiwan Anytime Soon (Time 4-12-2023), appears to reflect his position as Foreign Affairs Columnist and an Editor-at-large at Time, both magazines have begun to moderate their anti-China tone recently as China fully relaxed its COVID test and quarantine requirement and opened its borders for visitors. It is quite apparent that despite U.S. economic and technology sanctions against her, China will be the economic engine of the world. Bremmer acknowledges the seriousness of the heavy-duty military exercises China launched in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last Summer and Tsai Ying Wen’s meeting with U.S. Speaker McCarthy in Los Angeles, in April 2023, but he offered several points to support his article.
First, he argues that China’s military response to the Tsai-McCarthy meeting is less serious than that responding to the Pelosi-Tsai meeting. PRC values those opportunities to hold exercises and to conduct war practice as Bremmer pointed out, he did not highlight that those exercises established the de-facto right for PRC navy and air force to enter beyond the middle line. Second, China would value its ability to influence Taiwan’s voters in the 2023 and 2024 elections. Third, Bremmer claims that Xi is more interested or preoccupied with his larger role on the international stages, such as his 12-point peace plan for stopping the Russian-Ukraine war, brokering a diplomatic relation between Saudi Arabia and Iran and welcoming international leaders such as French president Macron to visit and support China.
This author tends to agree with the above points but will disagree with Bremmer’s fourth point that Putin’s Ukraine war would give China an example of a humiliating war that will deter China’s desire to invade Taiwan. In this author’s opinion, the Russia-Ukraine war is a valuable lesson, but China would have learned enough from it to be able to launch a successful take-over of Taiwan in a few weeks if not in a few days. Judging by the capabilities of the PRC army, navy and air force, taking over Taiwan by force is not a problem but a cost vs benefit issue especially considering the feelings of the people in Taiwan. To expect a harmonious one country-two system governance, peaceful unification is always desired. This is the Chinese leader’s logic but it is not in the U.S. leader’s mind as exhibited by U.S. invasions into Afghanistan or Iraq or suggestion to arm all civilians in Taiwan. Therefore, the reason why China won't invade Taiwan anytime soon is that China or would rather be patient for peaceful reunification. China's warm reception of Ma Ying-Jiu's mainland visit gives a clear clue.
Bremmer also argues that Taiwan’s domination in the manufacturing of semiconductor chips would deter China to use force to take over Taiwan. This indeed is the U.S. Administration’s logic and strategy; hence Biden’s Administration is trying to lure foreign chip manufacturers to move to the U.S. However, this strategy would work better for China since it had both the chip market and industry supply chain to support semiconductor manufacturing. If the U.S. and China were to compete in semiconductor production with the same strategy, the chance of success will favor China not the U.S. simply based on a cost analysis from market size (demand point of view) as well as resource aspect (human and capital). Moving facilities and people from Taiwan to Mainland are much simpler and safer for corporations, employees and families with better future prospects. Political Ideology had little to do with economic globalization; that is why there are more than two million people from Taiwan now working and living in Mainland China.
Bremmer concludes that China will not invade Taiwan any time soon. He asserts that war will not be triggered by diplomatic provocation, if happens it will be determined by leaders. This conclusion is somewhat illogical as if diplomatic provocations were never made by leaders. If we examine just the Trump and Biden Administrations, this author believes that nearly all diplomatic provocations were made or ordered by leaders. When we, citizens, select our leaders, whether it is by one person one vote method, or any other method, we must understand the leaders. We must ask the logical questions, for instance, is it logical to use national security (military dependence on a few types of semiconductor chips) to destroy an efficient globalized giant semiconductor industry? Does our military industry depend on nano-meter technology the same way as our commerce products depend on it? Did our government do the necessary homework to understand the consequence of economic loss (to the entire world including the U.S.) when we use national security to ban Huawei or to limit TikTok? We cannot simply accept some hawkish voices. We must demand more analyses and data to support the right decisions.