The TheDefensePost.com 2022-03-22 Op-Ed piece US Should Abandon Strategic Ambiguity for ‘Dual Clarity’ Toward Taiwan is a letter by four academics which proposes a new "Dual Clarity" position for the US to replace it's current strategic or deliberate ambiguity with regards to Taiwan. It includes the following:

Dual Clarity Toward Taiwan

In practice, the policy of dual clarity means that the United States will announce its commitment to defending Taiwan if and only if Taiwan vows not to declare independence.

The policy is called dual clarity as it is crystal clear to both Taiwan and China about the condition under which Washington would intervene.

and later:

Ruling Out Independence for Taiwan:

Arguably, ruling out the independence option will upset some or even many in Taiwan, but some citizens are likely to view it as a worthwhile bargain as it requires little change to their way of life while getting the craved US security guarantee.

China’s opposition to such an idea could also be minimal; the US is helping it by quashing Taiwan’s independence, which can be considered a strategic victory for the CCP.

Of course, the CCP could say no to this proposal, believing that the US commitment to dual clarity policy is uncredible and that the term can be revised anytime in the future. Furthermore, the CCP could deny any US official involvement in cross-Strait relations.

Question: How could the US benefit from replacing strategic ambiguity with the proposed "Dual Clarity Toward Taiwan"? In what ways would the US be constrained or its foreign policy goals foiled by adopting it?

  • 3
    I guess this article is written by people with Taiwanese background? I am sure Taiwan would benefit from this new policy once adopted but I doubt U.S. would benefit from it... I think U.S. doesn't want to be strictly obligated to defend Taiwan, by speculation.
    – No One
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 21:16
  • @question I had a hard time seeing how this could be a net positive for the US as well, which is why I've written the question in this way. The authors seem to argue that it might make the Chinese government happy, but I can't figure out how that is supposed to be good for the US either.
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 7:16
  • 1
    msn.com/en-us/news/world/… This article is interesting...
    – No One
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 18:58
  • @question yes, I suppose that it shows the strategic ambiguity is effective, at least as being ambiguous?
    – uhoh
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 0:40

1 Answer 1


Strategic ambiguity was a tool for the US to support Taiwan without committing to a kind of defense treaty (if they say they will support Taiwan then they actually have to in case of a conflict or the world would see the US as weak).

However, this ambiguity has also disadvantages. China could feel like the US might not support Taiwan eventually. The world could doubt the commitment of the US towards Taiwan.

The mentioned "Dual clarity" would be a further step towards supporting Taiwan, publicly announcing that they would support Taiwan and only demanding some minor concessions (not formally declaring independence while Taiwan is acting as an independent nation already) so that China doesn't have an outright reason to attack Taiwan immediately. That way the US could back out of a defense obligation of Taiwan much less easy than with strategic ambiguity, which in turn would act as a much stronger deterrent for China.

Indeed that is what is happening currently. The current president of the US (Biden) said recently that the US military would defend Taiwan if China invades it. This is very non-ambiguous. At the same time, Taiwan has not declared any independence (and might not do so because effectively it's not needed).

Strategic ambiguity seems to be a thing of the past. Probably because China's military became more powerful and because the need to defend democracies everywhere seems to be seen as more important currently compared to the past.

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