The Taiwan Equation in Ukraine Crisis


At the backdrop of the fall of Soviet Union, there were some assurances that were guaranteed by the West which included the non-expansion of the NATO eastwards. Since NATO’s true purpose of existence had practically diminished when Soviet Union collapsed, the only justification that could explain its existence, would have been to keep Western interests intact in the geo-political frame of reference. Ever since then, the newly born state of Russia built itself to a position today where it is a much more powerful state that can not only pose a challenge to the West but is fully capable to safeguard its own interests. The Russian invasion of Ukraine therefore has far-reaching consequences in the international order which impacts the position of United States as a hegemonic power.

The invasion of Ukraine appears to be the manifestation of Russia’s show of strength and its will to safeguard its interests in the region. Since Ukraine is not a NATO ally yet therefore the pretext on which NATO countries and most especially the United States can intervene in this war appears to be weak. This however comes with consequences for United States internationally.

The major challenge is now Taiwan. The United States is possibly considering the Taiwan factor in its response to the Russian-Ukraine conflict. The Hawks in the American foreign policy establishment had been advocating that US should deploy its forces eastwards. However, if US makes this move, it can entice China to coerce US and its allies by showcasing its strength in Taiwan. On the other hand, China will now be much more mindful to make any unnecessary move with regards to Taiwan at this moment because it will provide US and its allies a pretext to respond militarily to the situation. In all of this, the challenge of credibility affects US more than anyone else.

The US certainly does not want to compromise its credibility on the behest of its inaction in the current scenario. That is because it will make it look weak in the eyes of its allies in Europe and Asia. Consequently, what it can signal to the allies of the United States is that either they would have to find a more trusted partner for their security or they would have to strengthen their militaries to an extent where they can sufficiently fend off any threat to their security. This might as well include developing their own nuclear weapons program; a probability that the US in particular would like to avoid at all costs.

The potential way forward in this situation for the US is to maintain the trust of its allies and also it should publicly deliberate on the differences between Ukraine and Taiwan in a geo-political context. On the practical front, US should conduct military exercises with its allies in the Indo-Pacific so that so that so its allies can be reassured of the support of US.

The current scenario poses a foreign policy challenge for the United States and that is because it has to maintain its credibility and undertake plausible action which re-establishes its position as the leader of the free world. Ensuring to preserve peace in the Taiwan Strait will not be a consolidate the relations between US and Taiwan but it will also keep the assertive China in check.

Gulraiz Iqbal
Gulraiz Iqbal
Gulraiz Iqbal, is a Research and Teaching Assistant at School of Politics and International Relations in Quaid I Azam University, Islamabad. He previously was an intern at the High Commission of Sri Lanka. He tweets @GulraizIqbal10.


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