As the developments go, tension seems to be boiling to the surface between China and Taiwan. So much so, that the island country is preparing for war. Taiwan has put its military forces on high alert cancelling the leave of some officials and soldiers. The military has put in place its air defence forces to be prepared for a war at any time after holding a high-level briefing.
What triggered this tension?
The tension between China and Taiwan soared after Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker, a highest ranking US official visited the island for the first time after more than 25 years. China has condemned this visit and warned of ‘serious consequences’ if the trip continues.
In condemnation, China has put in place curbs on the import of fruit and fish from Taiwan. It has also paused shipments of sand to the country. China also plans on suspending the import of some citrus fruits and fish from the island alleging that it found “repeated” excessive pesticide residue and positive coronavirus tests on packages.
Further, Taipei’s Council of Agriculture recently said that China suspended the import of other Taiwanese goods, including fishery products, tea and honey citing regulatory breaches.
Following the US official’s visit, China is also planning live-fire military drills encircling Taiwan, a move that threatens the island’s key ports and urban areas.
This, however, isn’t the first time that China has put such ‘economic pressure’ on Taiwan. It exercised more pressure on the island when President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016 as she believes Taiwan to be a sovereign nation and not part of “one China”, took office.
Making a scathing verbal attack on the US official visit to Taiwan, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, as AP quoted, said, “Those who play with fire will perish by it. We would like to once again admonish the US that we are fully prepared for any eventuality and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will never sit idly by.”
This comes even after the US administration’s assurance to China that Beijing has no reason to spark a fight. It also assured that even if any visit of this nature were to occur, it would not intend on changing the US policy on Taiwan.
Although the citizens of Taiwan have been living in the country with a possibility of invasion for years, the intensity of the threat intensified to a larger extent under current President Xi Jinping, who is recognised to be China’s most assertive leader in a generation.
Why is China furious over the visit of a US official to Taiwan?
To explain this simply, China regards Taiwan as its own territory. The government of China see Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually become a part of China. Although China has insisted that its intentions are peaceful, it has never denied the use of force to reclaim the island. Any US official’s visit to Taiwan would indicate US’s support for Taiwan’s independence, a move that China thinks will undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Taiwan, on the other hand, considers itself a separate sovereign state independent from the control of the Chinese government. The island has its own constitution, leaders that are democratically elected, and over 300,000 active troops in its military.
Why does China claim control over Taiwan?
In the 17th Century, Taiwan was originally under full control of the Chinese when the Qing dynasty began ruling it. Further, in 1895, after losing the Sino-Japanese war, they had to give up the island to Japan. However, Japan’s defeat in World War Two pushed Taiwan back again under Chinese control in 1945.
A civil war erupted in mainland China between Mao Zedong’s Communist Party and nationalist government forces led by Chiang Kai-shek. The victory of the communists in 1949 caused Chiang Kai-shek and Kuomintang, the nationalist party to flee to Taiwan, where they ruled for many decades. Chiang Kai-shek remained the President until 1975.
Beijing, however, has never recognised Taiwan as an independent political entity. It strongly believes that it has always been a Chinese province.
How does the world view Taiwan then?
Only 13 countries in the world, mainly in South America, the Caribbean, Oceania, and the Vatican identify Taiwan as a separate country. Even the United Nations does not recognise the island as a separate country. Recently, America also clarified that it does not support Taiwan’s independence.
Why is a potential war between China and Taiwan of global relevance?
Taiwan’s economy is of great importance to the world. The island country dominates the global production of computer chips. The majority of the world’s everyday electronic equipment, right from mobile phones to watches, laptops to games consoles which are powered by computer chips are manufactured in Taiwan. To further explain the relevance, a single Taiwanese company – the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company or TSMC holds over half of the world’s market. Take over of Taiwan by the Chinese could give a good amount of control to Beijing over one of the world’s most important industries.
Presently, other developments around Taiwan that have been occurring on a daily basis are further triggering tensions, pushing the two nations even closer to war.