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  • Rovindu Ambagolla

World Politics>>>The Looming Threat of China– Taiwan and their Deteriorating Relationship with China

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Picture Source: USNI News Website

The tension between mainland China and Taiwan has escalated to the highest levels they have been in 40 years. The disagreement between China and Taiwan over the sovereignty of the island has been a prevailing diplomatic issue between the two states as China has a vision of “reuniting” the two countries under the communist party and Taiwan remains adamant on preserving its democracy.

Taiwan and mainland China have been separately governed for over 70 years since the end of the Chinese civil war when the Kuomintang party retreated to Taiwan from the opposing Communist party. Taiwan is now a democratic country with its leaders appointed by the people through elections. The current President of Taiwan is Tsai Ing-wen, and she was elected in 2016. She commented, "Here is this island of 23 million people trying hard every day to protect ourselves and protect our democracy and making sure that our people have the kind of freedom they deserve”.

However, Taiwan is only 200 kilometers away from China, and China has taken an extremely tough stance against anyone or any country that tries to recognise Taiwan as a separate sovereign state. Due to China’s aggressive stance on the issue, Taiwanese athletes aren’t even allowed to compete under the official Taiwanese national flag, instead they are represented under “Chinese Taipei” and a separate flag altogether.

The relationship between Taipei and Beijing has always been convoluted, but tension between the two are starting to rise as China flew a record number of Chinese military planes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone. The Chinese President Xi Jinping has commented that he wants a “peaceful” reunification of the two countries in a speech made on October 8th but has previously mentioned that he has not ruled out military action either.

Picture Source: Reuters Website

There are two prevailing reasons as to why tensions are flaring up now between the two states. China believes that Tsai and her democratic party are in favour of an official independent Taiwan even though she has publicly stated that she is in favor of the status quo. This speculation combined with increasing ties with the Biden administration and the US has sparked concern in China, leading them to provoke and taunt Taiwan with their military might.

Taiwan has started to prepare for the worst-case scenario as well. Taiwan announced that they will spend $1.4 billion on new fighter jets, and in December of 2020 they started constructing a fleet of home-made submarines. Further to this they have also made a $750 million arms deal with the US.

Even though there is the looming threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, its citizens are not afraid. They have gone through multiple threats by China in their complicated past, and they are confident that China will not actively engage with Taiwan as Taiwan also has the support of powerful allies such as the US and Japan. President Tsai is also optimistic that there is a peaceful resolution to the tension between the two states and is open to the idea of discussions with the Chinese President, commenting "Democracy sometimes is chaotic. It's messy, confrontational, but at the end, you find the best way to govern, the best way to establish a social order so that people can live together peacefully.

October 28th 2021 | 10:15 PM

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