Since the end of World War II, China and Taiwan have not been on the same page: after the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 they have had separate governments. China’s president, Xin Jinping does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country and will not do so probably ever. On several occasions he has stated that Taiwan is part of China as much as the mainland and reunification must be fulfilled with or without military force. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen believes otherwise. She is the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and has made it clear she will not stop demanding from China to recognize them as separate. However, China and Taiwan are highly dependent on each other, therefore, the ever-lasting question remains: will China invade Taiwan to reclaim it?
Currently, Taiwan is only recognized by 13 countries as a sovereign state. Nevertheless, this does not mean the tensions between China and Taiwan could not impact globally. Taiwan has the support from the United States since Donald Trump’s administration and continues to do so with Joe Biden’s government. When he took power, the U.S. State Department reassured its rock-solid commitment to helping Taiwan defend itself. The U.S. had pledged to supply them with defensive weapons and military support. Likewise, a regional response would be unstoppable due to the physical proximity and importance Taiwan has towards Japan. Additionally, in the economic realm Taiwan has a key role within the global economy.
Asia’s most valuable listed company is also the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Thus, a vast amount the world’s global supply chains of semiconductors depend on Taiwan; everyday electronic equipment, from phones to game consoles need it.
Contrary to popular belief this facedown is not as improbable. In January of 2021, Taiwan’s defense ministry reported that on two occasions military elements from China entered the self-declared south-western air defense identification zone. The first one involved eight Chinese bomber planes, four fighter jets and one anti-submarine aircraft. The second involved twelve fighters, two anti-submarine aircraft and a reconnaissance plane. On both situations, Taiwan’s air force sent air defense missile systems to monitor the aircrafts. Similarly, China continues coercing different international organizations to do not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation-state. A clear example is what happened with the World Health Organization during the pandemic and the lack of help provided to the Island due to China’s influence.
Also, it is no surprise that most assume China has the upper hand because Taiwan’s military is less than one-tenth the People’s Liberation Army of Beijing. However, Taiwan has decided to implement mandatory military training to all eligible men and spent an additional $8.7 billion to try to work out the warfare disparities in the long run. Moreover, Taiwan possesses other strategies besides the military attributes that impose a total threat to China as much as a bomb does. The most threatening is the probability of setting fire to the Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to burn down the global chip supply line, causing worldwide economic suffering and tension.
Most international organizations and nation-states find comfort in thinking Taiwan is just going to be an excuse to cause a long overdue showdown between China and the United States. Regardless, the economic importance Taiwan has in the world proves otherwise. By paying attention to the history of the region, preparation proves itself to be key because President Xi Jinping will not stop until the historical task of gaining back the motherland is completed. Consequently, the increasing tensions should be considered dangerous by every country and not deemed as issues in China’s backyard.