26 October 2021

International Strategic Foresight Lab: Peace and Security in the Taiwan Strait and the China Seas

International Strategic Foresight Lab: Peace and Security in the Taiwan Strait and the China Seas

In recent years, tensions in the South and East China Sea have risen considerably. With the rise of Xi Jinping to power in 2013, China changed course in its foreign and security policy and became more assertive. Indications of this policy change are massive hikes in military spending, the highly contested construction of military installations in the Spratly Archipelago, measures to challenge the status quo of Hong Kong as Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and a more hawkish rhetoric vis-à-vis Taipei.

With Donald Trump at the helm in the White House, US-China relations deteriorated to the lowest point since the early 1970s, not only leading to a trade war of formerly unknown dimensions but also to a show of military muscle in the region. At the same time, Beijing’s relations with other regional actors are at the lowest point since decades, too – Australia, Japan, Vietnam, the United Kingdom as the guardian of Hong Kong’s special status et al. Under the leadership of Joe Biden, Washington embarked on an even more principled pathway trying to close ranks with the EU and regional actors to contain Beijing’s influence and counter its assertive strategies. Talk of a new Cold War has become mainstream again.

Compiled by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and guided by GMF-senior fellow Dr Oliver Gnad, managing director of the Bureau fuer Zeitgeschehen (BfZ), a handpicked group of international experts combined diverse perspectives to model a set of “What if”-scenarios regarding peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. Over the course of three workshops, the group formulated – and challenged – key assumptions on peace, security and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the China Seas. The outcome of this process are eight mind-stretching scenarios evolving around three scenario clusters:


PRC-Taiwan Relations

  • Beijing’s Window of Opportunity is closing: What if Taipei and Washington start testing Red Lines?
  • The Arc of History is bending towards Beijing: What if China embarks onto military adventurism?


Regional Security

  • Xi’s Mare Nostrum: What if Beijing announces an Air Defense Identification Zone in the Spratlys?
  • Chip Wars: What if China gears up economic warfare?
  • Fragile Paramount Leadership: What if Xi Jinping’s power within the CCP starts fading?


Geostrategic Environment

  • Dragon & Bear Scenario: What if Russia and China move towards a deepened partnership?
  • Catch me if you can: What if China agreed to arms control negotiations?
  • Obsolescence of Hard Power: What if non-kinetic threats become the new normal?


If you are interested to learn about the potential Indo-Pacific futures of 2030 in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact us. For data protection reasons, we are not allowed to publish the full results of this process openly online.