by Nicholas Butts
March 2, 2017: A Taiwanese fighter jet on a routine patrol collides with a Chinese drone and crashes into the South China Sea; the pilot is killed. In response, the Republic of China Air Force, which for some time has been asking for upgraded planes, presses for a new arms package from America. Despite promising to maintain peace and stability in cross-Strait relations a little over a year ago in her victory speech, Tsai Ing-Wen, Taiwan's president, is faced with growing pressure to respond strongly. A concerned Legislative Yuan authorizes major defense budget increases (overcoming budget difficulties) aimed at acquiring the F-35. Eager to signal that the rebalance she spearheaded in the Obama administration is returning in full force, newly elected president Hillary Clinton (following the advice of hawkish media commentators) directs the Defense Department to sell Taipei fifty F-35s. The sale is made, despite severe protestations from Beijing. How is a humiliated China likely to respond?