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Bonnie S. Glaser is director of the Asia Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She was previously senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Ms. Glaser is concomitantly a nonresident fellow with the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and a senior associate with the Pacific Forum. For more than three decades, Ms. Glaser has worked at the intersection of Asia-Pacific geopolitics and U.S. policy.

From 2008 to mid-2015, she was a senior adviser with the CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies, and from 2003 to 2008, she was a senior associate in the CSIS International Security Program. Prior to joining CSIS, she served as a consultant for various U.S. government offices, including the Departments of Defense and State. Ms. Glaser has published widely in academic and policy journals, including the Washington Quarterly, China Quarterly, Asian Survey, International Security, Contemporary Southeast Asia, American Foreign Policy Interests, Far Eastern Economic Review, and Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, as well as in leading newspapers such as the New York Times and International Herald Tribune and in various edited volumes on Asian security. She is also a regular contributor to the Pacific Forum web journal Comparative Connections. She is currently a board member of the U.S. Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific and a member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. She served as a member of the Defense Department’s Defense Policy Board China Panel in 1997. Ms. Glaser received her B.A. in political science from Boston University and her M.A. with concentrations in international economics and Chinese studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Media Mentions

Are we clear about what deters China and what provokes China? The answer to that is ‘no,’ and that’s dangerous territory. We need to think long and hard on how to strengthen deterrence.
I don’t think that you’re going to hear anything in the Tony Blinken speech that hasn’t been said before and I don’t think that the goal is to come out and say something different because we have observed what the administration has done over the last 15 months. I think the main emphasis is how we’re going to do this alongside our partners.
If [Xi] feels backed into a corner, he may be forced to act in a way that would be contrary to what President Biden actually wants to see.
Biden's remark [is] a gaffe and [it is] patently not true that the United States had a commitment to defend Taiwan.
A senior official from the Biden administration should give a comprehensive speech on US policy toward Taiwan. The confusion and misstatements are more likely to undermine deterrence than strengthen it.
Nationalism is very infectious in China and most people don’t want to be buying from a company that’s seen as damaging the country’s interests.
It is important for the focus to remain on the provision of public goods in the region. But it is, of course, not true to say that there is no security component to the Quad. I think we will see that grow a bit in this upcoming meeting.
In practice, this would mean the use of weapons like coastal defense cruise missiles and short-range, mobile air defenses, smart naval mines or drones.
Taiwan is watching the war in Ukraine closely. Many civilians in Taiwan are expressing a greater desire to learn how they can play a role in defending their island and resisting Chinese forces if necessary, but it’s not yet clear how far the Taiwanese military will go to help prepare the civilian population.
It started before the invasion of Ukraine, but I think it has really, really solidified since then. There has been this wake-up call in the Pentagon to make sure Taiwan is serious, and we need to get serious too.
I sense there has been a shift. It started before the invasion of Ukraine, but I think it has really, really solidified since then. There has been this wake-up call in the Pentagon to make sure Taiwan is serious, and we need to get serious too.
There has been consistent messaging that if China does so it will face severe consequences. It appears that so far, the Chinese have not. It is feasible that the Chinese planned to provide military assistance and changed their minds.
I think the main emphasis is how we’re going to do this alongside our partners … and how we’re going to integrate our economic statecraft and technological capabilities with our diplomatic and military-slash-defense toolboxes to advance a set of objectives vis-à-vis China.
The speech [is] likely to be the only public articulation of the China strategy, unlike the Indo-Pacific strategy, which was released as a 12-page document.
There were growing worries about China’s policies during COVID-19, when it supplied substandard testing kits and medical masks to many European countries, including Germany. There’s also been growing concern about China’s human rights policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong and there was anger when China imposed sanctions on German parliamentarians and NGOs.
I believe that at the outset of this war, Xi had hoped that this conflict would help to accelerate the decline of the West and the friction between the US and its allies and drive a wedge between them. It has of course had quite a contrary impact, and so I think that has been very unfavourable to China.
China prefers a negotiated end to the conflict that results in a neutralized Ukraine that remains a sovereign entity, and greater security for Russia, a divided and weakened NATO, and reduced US credibility and influence.
It’s in China’s interests to identify the cause of the crash. There is no doubt that including Boeing representatives will aid in doing so.
China prefers a negotiated end to the conflict that results in a neutralised Ukraine that remains a sovereign entity, and greater security for Russia, a divided and weakened NATO, and reduced US credibility and influence.
That’s the real lesson of Ukraine for Taiwan: You need civilians who know how to use a rifle. Taiwan could easily do something like that, but they haven’t.
[China] may have believed that this conflict would drive wedges between the US and Europe. Maybe they thought that Europe wouldn’t cut off gas from Russia and wouldn’t want to join in the U.S. and the sanctions.
Once we get on the other side of [the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress this fall], there’s a real concern that China will move against Taiwan.
China’s policy is based on Xi Jinping’s view of China’s interests, and he sees the United States as implacably hostile. He sees Russia as his only ally against the United States and the other democracies. … I don’t think China can in any way be neutral.
What Taiwan is doing with the reservists is long overdue. I don't know how long it will take to apply this pilot program to the entire reserves and bring everybody up to that level. I think it's important that they are doing it.
The Chinese have made it clear that they think Russia has legitimate security concerns, they have blamed NATO’s expansion as the cause of the problem, they won’t even call it an invasion.
[Russia’s war on Ukraine] has underscored the importance to countries like Japan and Australia of alliances — how important they are in protecting their interests and potentially deterring but also pushing back against a similar kind of aggression in Asia.
The Chinese have made it clear that they think Russia has legitimate security concerns. They have blamed NATO's expansion as the cause of the problem, [and] they won’t even call it an invasion.
The cohesiveness of US alliances, the seismic shift in Germany’s policy, and the willingness of many countries to impose sanctions should give China pause.
Mullen and the delegation would probably impress upon Taiwan’s leaders that they needed to become more serious about boosting defenses and implementing reforms.
Beijing is making it clear that it does not want to be directly associated with Moscow’s moves. The costs of doing so, in terms of relations with the US and Europe, and its global reputation, are too high.
China wants to preserve its ties with Moscow, abide by its principles and avoid harming relations with the United States and the European Union. Navigating this crisis may be one of the toughest diplomatic challenges that [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping has had to face.
China has always prized sovereignty in its foreign policy; it does not want to be associated with Moscow’s action. The costs of doing so, in terms of relations with the US and Europe, and its global reputation, are too high. Yet, it has an important relationship with Russia that it doesn’t want to damage. I see this as a major foreign policy challenge for Xi Jinping.
This [statement from Chinese permanent representative, Zhang Yun] reads like a placeholder. China hasn’t decided what its policy response should be yet.
The 20th Party Congress will be extremely important even though and maybe because there will be no leadership change. Xi Jinping will likely lay out his priority agenda, which will provide insights into the legacy items he hopes to achieve.
If Beijing lent stronger support to Moscow, that could create more tensions with the US, including a clearer democracy versus autocracy split.
In a wider strategic context where Beijing sees itself in an intensifying rivalry with the United States, consolidating a partnership with Russia is now worth the price of some unhappy European leaders and modest potential economic costs in Ukraine.
In 2008, China was still emerging as a global player. Now, it has the ambition to be a global superpower, but how much the Olympics are going to get them there, I’m personally a little skeptical.
Letting this crisis fester is likely to have a bad outcome for Lithuanian interests, and perhaps for Taiwan’s as wel. The establishment of a new office and the rapid expansion of Lithuania-Taiwan ties is a big win for Taipei regardless of what they call the office.
I don’t think these messages are resonating much with Western countries anymore. There is growing realization that Xi’s language and vision for world order as expressed in his speeches doesn’t match up with China’s policies and actions.
The importance of RCEP for China is primarily in strengthening the trend toward intraregional trade, with China as every country's number one or number two trading partner. RCEP also strengthens China's narrative that it is an active participant in multilateral trade deals, while the US is not.
Translated from Chinese (Mandarin)
The risk of a PRC attack on Taiwan prior to the 20th Party Congress in the fall of 2022 is very low. Xi Jinping is unlikely to take such a risk that might put in jeopardy securing a third five-year term in power.
There was a high level of concern within the Tsai administration that this pork referendum would pass. [If the pork import ban had been approved by Taiwan’s voters,] it just would have been very consequential for the U.S.-Taiwan trade relationship.
I think the Chinese would be ill-advised to assume that if the United States did not intervene militarily in a Ukraine crisis, that means the United States would not intervene militarily in a Taiwan crisis. They really are different.
[I do] not believe war is imminent, despite the ramped-up military presence. The Chinese are training in a very realistic way. A rehearsal doesn't mean that they have the intention to invade.
It seems to me that a decision was made at the outset that Taiwan could/should be included in the Summit for Democracy, but only in ways consistent with U.S. policy.
The Chinese campaign to pry countries away from Taiwan was starting to backfire because it was making other nations, such as U.S. allies Japan and Australia, more supportive of efforts to boost Taipei’s security. Taiwan’s isolation isn’t in the interests of the EU, Japan, Australia and many other countries, so they may take steps to strengthen their ties with Taiwan.
There was no doubt that Taiwan was going to be invited. However, some details of its participation had been planned to avoid upsetting China more than necessary. For example, Taiwan’s digital minister and its representative to the U.S. are joining the summit, but its president is not. China’s reaction is calibrated based on what the United States does. And I think the U.S. has carefully managed this.
Unless other countries joined the boycott, it would undermine the message that China's human rights abuses are unacceptable. The only option really that is available to us is to try to get as many countries as we can to stand with us in this coalition.
The Biden administration had no choice but to follow through on a diplomatic boycott. The decision to label China's actions in Xinjiang a genocide meant that no U.S. official could attend the Games. Other countries have not used such provocative terminology.
For the first eight months, the Chinese just refused to engage. They hoped that there would be a return to Obama-era policies.
The Chinese Communist Party likely feels threatened by the Biden democracy narrative and feels compelled to reaffirm that it puts the people first. Of course, the people come after the party and the preservation of its role, but that is left unsaid.
The US has been keen to touch base with New Zealand on issues including China, supply chain resilience, the Pacific Islands and South East Asia. It is always really good to reconnect, to have officials sit down in person and talk about the challenges and opportunities especially where there is so much taking place in the world.
We need to have an ambassador in place in Beijing. There are areas of friction that, if not a dealt with, if they are left to fester, could potentially spiral out of control. We could end up in a confrontation with China if we have an accident, for example, between our two militaries in the South China Sea.
If the apology [from JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon] was effusive, the Chinese Communist party might let it go. The longevity of the party isn’t a topic that China likes to call attention to.
China will likely respond in some way, but it will not lead to a major setback in the relationship. Taiwan will not be referred to as a country, its president will not participate.
These patrols have multiple objectives, including testing Taiwan’s responses, training PRC pilots, sending warning signals to Taiwan’s government, and stoking nationalism at home.
I’m really not sure if Beijing’s bottom line is simply that Tsai not be allowed to participate. But she won’t be invited, so maybe they can tell their domestic audience that the U.S. backed down in the face of Chinese pressure.
People are nervous because they don't really understand what Xi Jinping's endgame is, what his strategy is, and how we can put in place some understanding or risk reduction measures to avoid conflict. And we have a history of knowing that when there's a crisis, the Chinese don't answer the phone.
Biden’s statements haven’t consistently signaled an ironclad guarantee that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defense. Most of them have simply made no sense. These statements have sent confused signals and have not advanced American interests in preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Having the president say Taiwan is independent would really be of concern to China... It appears that [President Biden's] heart is in supporting stronger relations with Taiwan and maybe even independence.
It is important that the U.S. have a clear policy and consistent messaging to China, Taiwan, and the rest of the world on this issue because it is likely the only issue that could lead to a U.S.-China military conflict.
Beijing is eager to use the summit to signal to its domestic audience and other countries that the US-China relationship is back on track. But the Biden administration wants to avoid a scenario in which the Chinese spin this summit as a reset of the relationship.
Xi has sent contradictory signals on Taiwan. It is difficult to disaggregate which signals Xi intends for the party elite, the general domestic audience, Taiwan audiences or the United States.
[Adm. Davidson] inferred too much from a recent goal, set by Chinese President Xi Jinping, to achieve “national rejuvenation” by 2027. That year is the 100th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army. There is “no evidence” of Xi or anyone else tying this date to a takeover of Taiwan.
Beijing will object to the landing of yet another U.S. military aircraft on Taiwan. Although the visit by U.S. congressmen to Taiwan is certainly not unusual, it comes against the background of a slew of pro-Taiwan and anti-China legislation, which the Chinese view as contributing to a hardening of U.S. policy toward China.
Beijing could impose sanctions on EU officials who met with Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. It could also postpone a planned meeting between Xi Jinping and European Council President Charles Michel, and a 27+1 meeting that has been broached.
No member of the Politburo Standing Committee has traveled out of China since the onset of Covid-19 … the risks of infection and the potential attendant political consequences are deemed to be too great.
Tsai has sought to maintain the status quo on the Taiwan Strait and is not guilty of any particular provocation. However, China's government is concerned by the strengthening of defense ties between Taiwan and the United States, among other issues.
Biden’s gaffes are weakening deterrence, U.S. policy should be clear and consistent, or we are not likely to successfully deter or reassure. [Beijing is] likely seeking to clarify quietly. There is always a tendency in Beijing to make the worst case interpretation, and the lack of mutual trust will make it difficult to credibly walk back.
Some are suggesting a deliberate effort to send unclear signals, but in my view, that makes no sense. A confused U.S. policy weakens deterrence.
China wants to keep Taiwan in a box and it is using more and more coercion against Taiwan...They want to intimidate Taiwan.
Xi didn’t place urgency on unification. With so many domestic issues, there’s little motivation for Xi to “rock the boat.
I personally would have advised Tai to continue to communicate in English, just to ensure that nothing is misconceived in Beijing. It's a bit of a dance that's going on between China and the United States and we'll have to see how far it goes.
Activities such as this — for training purposes — have been going on for years. In the past, these activities have been kept under wraps. If they are now being made public deliberately, that’s new. And it will undoubtedly provoke a reaction from China.
Given how much [China has] ratcheted up pressure in the past week, we should worry that they will want to send a stronger signal, and therefore do something more destabilising than simply increase the number of sorties around Taiwan.
[The spike in China's military activity is] destabilizing, but not alarming and undoubtedly intended to intimidate Taiwan.
I think the hope is that it will lead to a Biden-Xi Jinping meeting, which may have to be virtual.
This has become the new normal in the Taiwan Strait, this is part of the training for the PLA air force, and the naval air assets as well.
Of course, there are other things that China is trying to achieve and those are obviously stressing Taiwan’s air force, putting their pilots on edge, increasing the cost of maintenance, inducing psychological despair within the people. They are testing the response times of Taiwan’s air defences and they are probably rallying domestic support because it is popular to be seen as reminding Taiwan that it is part of China.
The PRC's national day and the training cycle are important factors. Of course, the flights are also intended to warn Taiwan and the U.S. not to cross Beijing's red lines.
The other purposes they serve is to signal to the United States and Taiwan not to cross Chinese red lines. And to stress Taiwan’s air force, to force them to scramble, to stress the aircraft, the pilots, force them to do more maintenance and test the responses of Taiwan’s air defence system.
The Chinese flights were also designed to test Taiwan’s response time and to wear down its air force. But, the flights were not a prelude to war; they were occurring in international air space.
It stresses Taiwan’s force, tests the (Taiwanese Air Force) response time, warns the DPP not to cross Beijing’s red lines, and provides opportunities for … training.
[PLA flights are] not flying over Taiwan. They're not even flying within Taiwan's territorial airspace, within 12 nautical miles of its shore.
The biggest difference on China is that the Trump administration was more unilateralist and even weakened some of our alliances and partnerships, but the Biden administration has come in determined to build coalitions with the countries that share our values and interests.
Beijing thinks the U.S. needs China's cooperation more than China needs cooperation from the United States. So, by insisting that there are preconditions for any kind of cooperation, China thinks it can get some concessions from the U.S.
I believe that the deal that the PRC made to get Meng [Wanzhou] released was on the table during the Trump administration. She had to acknowledge wrongdoing and ultimately that is what she did. I don't see capitulation.
The devil is in the details. If China did stop its financing of coal-fired power plants via its Belt and Road Initiative, a multibillion-dollar global investment plan, it 'will be welcomed' by the EU. But it won't remove European concerns about many other issues such as China's human rights and predatory trade policies.
The reason why countries are willing to stand up more and do things, whether that is India in the Quad or Australia in AUKUS, is because of concern about China's behavior and its challenges to the rules-based order. So I think even before they actually start doing anything, just announcing that they have this new mechanism is very significant.
Between the Quad and Aukus, 'we’re seeing the emergence of a new security architecture, it sends a signal to Beijing that other countries are willing to stand up together and defend a rules-based international order.'
There are numerous ways that the EU and the U.S. can work together to advance their shared interests in peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and strengthen the rules-based order.
To prevent the outcome of Chinese regional hegemony, it is necessary for countries to take diplomatic and military actions, which will inevitably lead to greater tensions and military confrontation.
The Chinese believe that the U.S. needs cooperation from China more than China needs the United States, [and like others see the United States as weaker now than in the past.]
Beijing will view this as part of the Biden administration’s effort to build coalitions to hem China in and contain its rising power.
My understanding from people in the administration - having talked to allies and partners who have an interest in peace and security in the Indo-Pacific - is that there was nothing negative. There is support in the region for deterrence and for having U.S. presence and military presence in the region.
There is a shared understanding that we need to strengthen deterrence and actually be prepared to fight a conflict if one occurs. It reflects growing concern about Chinese military capabilities and intentions.
It may be politically risky for Xi to engage with President Biden without certainty that he can get something from Biden. He may calculate that it is safer to only have interactions in this period at lower levels. But there is also the Covid factor, and we don’t know how much weight to attach to that.
Southeast Asia always has a degree of angst about US staying in power in the region, but I don't think that Afghanistan moves the needle of their concerns very much.
I think there's growing awareness in the United States about Taiwan and the challenges that it faces.