A Brief Overview: Growing Tensions Between China and Taiwan

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Recently, the ongoing conflict between China and Taiwan has become a common topic. Many have claimed that China will invade or declare war on Taiwan. Yet, where is this coming from? Is it an impulsive outburst similar to Putin with Ukraine, or is it a far more deeply-rooted conflict? Here is all you need to know:

Taiwan became a territory of China during the Qing dynasty, though it was passed on to Japanese control in 1895. That being said, China reclaimed the territory after WWII in 1945. A few years later, after a political civil war, the Republic of China (ROC) government established itself in Taiwan in 1949. This last event is what marked the separation of Taiwan from the mainland, due to the different governing parties.

Back to the present:

The People’s Republic of China is focused on unifying Taiwan with the mainland. They have mainly opted for a military approach. The Chinese government is intimidating Taiwan by maintaining a routine of fighter jets, surveillance aircrafts, bombers, and warships circulating around the territory. The number of military patrols is increasing everyday; with Taiwan being threatened through their surrounding, while China expands its national forces.

Throughout, the U.S. publicly recognized all of China (including the islands) as part of one government. That being said, its position seemed to change as of recently. President Joe Biden has made his intentions clear to defend Taiwan if China strikes. Simultaneously, the U.S. has been providing arms to the island. Moreover, due to the increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei on August 3rd of this year. This visit increased tensions for US-China relations. As a response, China strengthened its military intimidation.

On October 16th, during the 20th National Congress of the CCP, President Xi JinPing gave a speech stating​​ that China will “continue to strive for peaceful reunification… But will never promise to renounce the use of force. And we [the Chinese government] reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.” This statement contributed to growing concerns from international communities. Xi is aware of foreign disquietude, and said that China needs to prevent “interference from outside forces”. He alluded to countries supporting Taiwan in gaining its independence. In response to this speech, the Taiwanese Cabinet’s Mainland Affairs Council made a public statement, saying that the island holds the right to determine what will happen, and has no obligation to accept Beijing’s terms. “We firmly call on the Chinese Communist authorities to abandon the imposition of a political framework and the use of military force and coercion.”

Where is this conflict headed?

The conflict has been escalating rapidly, and causing much concern. Admiral Philip Davidson, former head of the Indo-Pacific Command, warned the US congress about Chinese military attacking Taiwan before 2027. Yet, the conflict has worsened to such a degree that the US Navy is warning about the possibility of attack before 2024. Parallel to this, the Russia-Ukraine war can play a role in this possible escalation. Expert David Sacks from the Council on Foreign Relations pointed out, “Chinese leaders will examine Russia’s failures and adapt their operational plans to avoid making similar mistakes.” It is hoped, by many nations, that this issue is resolved diplomatically before any advance can occur.

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