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NDC - News-NATO and a Taiwan contingency

NATO and a Taiwan contingency

  • 15 Apr. 2024
  • |
  • Last updated: 15 Apr. 2024 10:05

NDC Outlook 02-24

At a time of growing concern about the threat to Taiwan’s security from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), NATO has been increasingly concerned with developments in the Indo-Pacific.1 A contingency over Taiwan would not only have a devastating impact on the global economy, but also have the potential to involve the United States in a direct conflict with a near-peer (and nuclear-armed) competitor.2 US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has emphasized the connection – and indeed the interdependence – of security in Europe and security in the Indo-Pacific:

"We are also growing the connective tissue between US alliances in the Indo-Pacific and in Europe…allies in the Indo- Pacific are staunch supporters of Ukraine, while allies in Europe are helping the United States support peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait." 3

This paper outlines the scenarios under which a Taiwan contingency could affect the Alliance, both in the legal sense of a triggering action for Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and in the political sense of how the United States might ask for the support of its NATO Allies in a global campaign against Beijing. What is the scope for NATO to become involved in a Taiwan contingency under its existing commitments, and what might that involvement look like? The first section discusses the legal basis for NATO to act in a Taiwan contingency. The second section discusses the operational scenarios in which the United States and Taiwan could ask for NATO support, including a scenario-building exercise of how a conflict could begin. The concluding section discusses the policy implications of this analysis.

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* (back) Assistant Research Fellow, Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

1 (back) Sara Bjerg Moller, “NATO Is Entering a New Phase in the Indo-Pacific,” Atlantic Council, 6 February 2023, in-the-indo-pacific/

2 (back) Taipei Times, “China Would Choose War if ‘Peaceful Unifi cation’ Impossible, US Offi cials Say,” Taipei Times, 11 March 2023,

3 (back) Jake Sullivan, “The Sources of American Power: A Foreign Policy for a Changed World,” Foreign Affairs(November/December 2023),

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