Written by Vedika Pathania, a second-year student.
Tensions between China and Taiwan have risen since China’s National Day on October 1st, which commemorates the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). China flew nearly 100 fighter planes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone during the 72nd-anniversary festivities, jangling nerves in Taiwan and raising fears throughout the globe that it was preparing to occupy the island by force.
However, before we understand the conflict, it is also important to understand why it exists, what was the origin, and also the geopolitical dynamic.
What is Taiwan’s current political and economic scenario?
Despite the fact that it is mostly unrecognised by other nations, Taiwan considers itself to be an independent country, and its officials, notably President Tsai Ing-wen, have promised to protect its sovereignty against China’s objective of “reunification.”
Taiwan is one of the world’s leading countries in terms of long-term growth and technical advancement, according to data from the World Economic Forum. Taiwan’s major export partner and largest source of imports are China.
Despite their close economic ties, China opposes Taiwan’s recognition as a sovereign state. Other countries are under political and economic pressure to cut ties with Taiwan. This pressure has increased as China’s geopolitical might has grown. As a result, Taiwan struggles to increase its worldwide footprint and the opportunities that come with it, despite having a solid economy and democratic credentials.
What is The Taiwan Strait?
The Taiwan Strait is now one of the world’s most dangerous locations. The strait that divides the People’s Republic of China from Taiwan is known as “The Black Ditch” (officially called the Republic of China). Although the names are practically the same, the two countries are vastly different: on one side of the strait, there is an authoritarian, communist government, and on the other, a democracy.
PRC is the People’s Republic of China whereas RoC is the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan.
Origin of the issue
The PRC has felt that Taiwan must be reunified with the mainland since its foundation in 1949, whereas the RoC has maintained its status as an “independent” country. During the Cold War, the RoC led the non-communist opposition to China, and until 1971, it was the only “China” recognised by the UN.
(The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War II.)
What is the role of the United States?
The US supported Taiwan’s independence, maintained ties with Taipei, and sold weapons to it it at the time, thanks to the secret diplomacy of Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser. The US endorses Taiwan’s independence, continues to maintain ties with Taipei, and sells arms to it — but it officially adheres to the PRC’s “One China Policy,” which states that there is only one legitimate Chinese government. Taiwan is recognised by just 15 nations, the majority of which are small.
However, Taiwan’s defence against prospective Chinese invasion is wholly dependent on the United States, which is why any increase in military tensions between China and Taiwan adds to the already fragile ties between Washington and Beijing.
Taiwan is a place where the US has a lot of interests. It is one of the world’s most stable countries (as well as one of the most dynamic democracies). Taiwan is also a major economic power, producing more than 60% of the world’s semiconductors. Beyond that, it has significant strategic significance for the United States: presently, Chinese air and naval forces must travel through Russian, Japanese, Philippine, and Taiwanese territory in order to enter the western Pacific.
How have tensions recently escalated?
The State Department dispatched its highest-ranking mission to Taipei yet last year, amid deteriorating US-China tensions over Covid and trade. The Chinese held a military drill in the Taiwan Strait, which divides Taiwan from mainland China, during the visit.
President Xi Jinping instructed the PLA to prepare for war in October 2020, alarming Taiwan, which saw it as an outright threat.
Taipei raised an alarm about a Chinese warplane invasion early in the Biden Administration, which has vowed a “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan. Taiwan detected Chinese planes in its air defence zone in April. Xi threatened in July to “smash” any Taiwanese push for independence.
As the Chinese planes returned to Taiwan earlier this month, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng warned Parliament that China now has the capability to invade Taiwan, but that by 2025, it would be able to “bring the cost and attrition to its lowest.”
Xi appeared to assuage concerns of a forcible takeover in a speech on October 10 in which he spoke of “peaceful reunification.” Talking about how t The historical mission of the total reunion of the homeland will undoubtedly be realised. On the same day, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen warned that while her administration would not “act rashly,” neither would the Taiwanese people “bend to pressure.”
Could there be a war between the two countries?
The war between the “two Chinas” might enlist the help of neighbouring nations as well as the US, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II. A dispute between China and Taiwan would be devastating because it would be the first in decades between two highly urbanised, population-dense, technologically sophisticated countries. Not only would this have an impact on the fighting—which would entail stealth aircraft, drones, etc but it would also have an impact on Taiwan’s cities. The conflict would put Taiwan’s 23 million mainland Chinese nationals who live near coastal air and naval bases, as well as Japanese residents and U.s. military personnel, in jeopardy.
What will be the implications for India?
With India’s own issues with China near the LAC, some have suggested that the country’s One China Policy be reviewed.
In each other’s capitals, India and Taiwan have “commercial and cultural exchange” offices. Tsai’s swearing-in in May 2020 was virtually attended by BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi (currently Minister of State for External Affairs) and Rahul Kaswan. New Delhi had abruptly cancelled arrangements to send two representatives to Tsai’s first inauguration in 2016.
According to Bloomberg, India is in talks with Taipei to bring a $7.5 billion semiconductor or chip manufacturing plant to the country. Chips can be found in a variety of technologies, including computers, 5G cellphones, electric cars, and medical equipment. The agreement was announced shortly after a summit of the Quad, a coalition of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia aimed at limiting China’s dominance in the Indo-Pacific.
Key points Summary
- Tensions between China and Taiwan have risen since China’s National Day on October 1st
- Taiwan considers itself to be an independent country
- The Taiwan Strait is now one of the world’s most dangerous locations. The strait that divides the People’s Republic of China from Taiwan is known as “The Black Ditch”
- The PRC has felt that Taiwan must be reunified with the mainland since its foundation in 1949, whereas the RoC has maintained its status as an “independent” country.
- Taiwan’s defence against prospective Chinese invasion is wholly dependent on the United States
- Taiwan is a place where the US has a lot of interests.
- As the Chinese planes returned to Taiwan earlier this month, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng warned Parliament that China now has the capability to invade Taiwan, but that by 2025, it would be able to “bring the cost and attrition to its lowest.”
- A dispute between China and Taiwan would be devastating because it would be the first in decades between two highly urbanised, population-dense, technologically sophisticated countries.
- With India’s own issues with China near the LAC, some have suggested that the country’s One China Policy be reviewed.