Rising tensions between China and Taiwan

As Taiwan's defence minister stressed, "tensions with China are at their worst in 40 years."

3 min read
Rising tensions between China and Taiwan

By: Aditi Roy

The tension between Taiwan and China is rapidly building up to a state of war.  The determination of Mainland China to threaten, if not attack, the small island country is evident from the fact that 56 Chinese warplanes - 36 fighter jets 12 bombers, and an assortment of other 6 aircraft intruded menacingly into Taiwanese airspace in a single day on  Monday the 4th October this year. China couldn't have given a more menacing warning to its smaller neighbour.

Five days later, on October 9. President  Xi Jinping promised 'reunification' of the countries in a press conference. He thundered, "the complete reunification of our country will be and can be realized."  While President Xi Jinping strongly believes this unification will benefit both parties, the Taiwanese government and its people seem to disagree unanimously.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's speech on October 10, the Island's national day, couldn't emphasize a more opposite sentiment. Contradicting the intimidating possibility of unification, the President remarked that Taiwan and China are "not subordinate to each other."

Taiwan's valiant 72-year stance of independence from the big bully was reinstated earlier in April 2021 when its foreign minister said that Taiwan would fight "to the very last day" if China decided to invade.

China hasn't backed down as the PLA (People's Liberation Army) released videos of the Chinese army demonstrating its destructive capability on a beach in Fujian province right across Taiwan. This video was meant to showcase the troops preparing for a ground invasion utilizing grenades, building trenches, and shooting at targets. The end result was a tarnished beach but signified their plans for an attack sooner or later.

The reluctance of both countries to change their stance on the issue, coupled with the recent mutual recriminations, is spreading the fear of an inevitable war. It is also important to note that if this war ensues, it will involve the likes of Japan and other countries. The most notable participant would be the United States of America. The USA has successfully maintained strong relations with Taiwan barring a short period during the presidentship of Richard Nixon in his attempt to please China. Thus the United States has a compelling obligation to protect the independence of its small ally that practices democracy from the Communist bully. Asked if the United States would come to Taiwan's defence in case of an attack, US president Joe Biden stated, "Yes, we commit to doing that."

There is no official contract or treaty that backs up Joe Biden's statement hinting at a direct involvement in a battle. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 is a treaty that solidifies the partnership between both countries- but by no means does it make it obligatory for the United States to directly participate in a war between Taiwan and China.

However, this statement by the President of the United States wasn't taken lightly by the Chinese authority. On October 22, Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Minister, reiterated that China has "no room for compromise" on the issue of reunification. He cautioned that the American president "act cautiously over Taiwan."

While the back and forth between the involved governments continues, fear rises amongst the masses. No one is certain of the magnitude of a war if it takes place and what the devastating aftermath of it will look like. Countries like Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia are against a Chinese hegemony over the region while Russia could take China's side if only to curtail Americans creating another was theatre after Afghanistan. What could follow is a mini (if only that) world war.

As Taiwan's defence minister stressed, "tensions with China are at their worst in 40 years." Unfortunately, given the political climate, he cannot be accused of over-stressing the looming possibility of an all-out war.


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