TAIWAN’S STANCE VS CHINA’S CHEST-BEATING
The first thing to understand about the China-Taiwan ‘conflict’ is to realise that it is not as simple as just a toss-up between peace and war. There is far more to it than that.
Through the 80’s and 90’s, Taiwan developed into an economic powerhouse through what was called the “Taiwan Miracle”. It became known as one of the “Four Asian Tigers”. So one consideration in China targeting Taiwan is its economic strength as exemplified by it being the supplier of half the world’s semi-conductors – especially complex ones.
For some years now, China has had a strategy for ‘reunifying’ with Taiwan which generally ramped up around Taiwanese elections. China’s chest-beating has taken on more military tactics by way of military exercise offshore and more recently, regular aircraft intrusions of Taiwanese airspace. In 2005, China’s intentions became more aggressive when it enacted an “anti-secession” law rather than a “reunification” law. This law allowed for the use of force in resolving the 2-Chinas issue.
With China’s rapid economic development and rise in military power, their strategy has shifted greatly and now involves military threats. Invasion need not happen quickly – the CCP will be planning for a series of campaigns and will be patient about them. Their primary goal will not be “to quickly win” in a military sense, but to “not lose” while it sets the victory agenda. Like many civil wars before it, China’s Civil War could take months or years to resolve! Remember the US Civil War? That took 4 years!
Any military assessment revolves around the South China Sea and China’s desire to exert its influence and power over the US whose military would face daunting odds given their distance from China and Taiwan. Their nearest bases are on Guam and Okinawa – well over 1000 kms away. The Chinese who already have enormous military facilities in the Spratly Islands off the Philippines, would also look to take control of other key islands including those administered by Taiwan such as the PenghuIslands, Pratas, Dongyin, and Kinmen Islands (Quemoy).
China would also have the upper hand in taking control of Taiwan’s infrastructure. It could knock out power, communications and embargo oil imports and disconnect it from the world! It would only need long-range missiles to do the damage too!
Meanwhile, the region that has driven global growth for decades would become a war zone which would break global supply chains, transportation links and financial systems. Imagine the combined outcomes from simultaneous China and Ukraine conflicts!
There are no two ways about it – even without an invasion or nuclear war, the world will be greatly affected by inflamed conditions in the Asia-Pacific region!
The Economist once described the region as “the most dangerous place on earth” being so close to Beijing and its heightened military harassment of Taiwan.
Taiwan, under the DPP and President Tsai Ing-wen rejects completely the idea of reunification with mainland China. What unifies the Taiwanese people is not a rejection of Chinese culture but a rejection of the PRC’s political system and policies. Only 8% of Taiwanese have a positive view of the PRC or its policies. 66% rated the PRC’s influence on Taiwan as negative. Whilst not overly favourable towards the mainland people, it was the PRC government that they resented most.
The number of Taiwanese who see themselves as exclusively Taiwanese rather than Chinese is steadily rising. Whilst they don’t necessarily support immediate formal independence, they highly value their democracy, their constitution and their culture. Besides, as their President says, Taiwan is already independent (implying that no other country has sovereign rights over it) and does not need to be declared as such.
In our previous articles, we demonstrated how the Han Chinese had no involvement in Taiwan until the 17th century and then only for a couple of years when they fought the Dutch and were then replaced by the Manchurian Qing dynasty.
So we are left basically with a country, Taiwan, that does NOT want to be united with or politically connected with another, larger, more powerful and domineering country in the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). The PRC however believe Taiwan is a rogue province and must be ‘reunified’ with mainland China. Unfortunately, this is false. Taiwan was never a province of China. In fact, the PRC which is ruled by the CCP, has only ruled China since 1949! How can it base its claims on just 73 years history – especially when the Nationalist Chinese under the previously ruling KMT had left mainland China and re-established their ROC on Taiwan and set up their government in Taipei?
The astounding thing is that over those years, the PRC has managed to convince nearly all UN countries to recognise it as the one true China and thereby replacing the ROC as the recognised China in 1971. Only 14 countries have recognised Taiwan. Even the US conducts a ‘strategic ambiguity’ by recognising the PRC in the UN but openly supporting Taiwan. In fact, it has a defence pact with Taiwan dating back to the 1954 Sino-American Mutual Defence Treaty so the US could technically be drawn into the conflict. It would be hard to imagine how the US could fail to be drawn in though as its global reputation would be in tatters if it didn’t support Taiwan.
Perhaps it is time for the CCP to fully explain their grounds for reunification and therefore how they justify their claims over Taiwan. We can find no true justification – just flat unsubstantiated claims. Then perhaps those countries supporting only the PRC can open the doors of the UN to Taiwan and its rightful place among the world’s nations.
This would resolve the issue once and for all as the PRC would have no further claims over Taiwan and the Chinese Civil War could be finally brought to an end.
Our final article in the series will look at Xi Jinping and his hand in this ‘reunification’ conflict.
We’ll also look at some other possible strategic deterrents.
GB / AB