The Rhetoric of U.S. and China towards the Taiwan Crisis

The world changes, the invention of advanced weapons increases, and thoughts and ideas reach equilibrium, but conflicts and wars remain. In this sense, it seems that there is no escape from the “Thucydides trap” that Joseph Nye and Graham Allison cited, warning of the potential war between a rising power and a dominant but concerned great power.

Ancient Athenian military general Thucydides predicted that war between them was inevitable based on the fear that Sparta, as a dominant power, had of Athens as an emerging and growing power. Now the current conflict between the US on the one hand and China and Russia on the other hand is completely similar to the conflict that took place between Athens and Sparta in ancient Greece, given that the US, which is a great and dominant power, is concerned about the growth of the emerging power of China and its transformation into a great power and the Russia’s return to its original position as a world superpower. On the other hand, China and Russia, because of their fear of the US power, or because of exploiting its weaknesses, are trying to challenge the dominant power of it.

The conflict between the US and Russia can be clearly seen in the war in Ukraine, but the conflict between the US and China can be seen over the country of Taiwan. The field of this conflict, in which both sides cooperate with each other, have both competition and confrontation, is very wide and has various military, economic and strategic dimensions. While the US is moving away from the “one China” policy adopted in 1971 during the visit of the then US President Nixon to Beijing, China is conducting extensive exercises around Taiwan and has placed it in a state of quasi-siege.

Since the island was separated from the mainland of China by Jiang Kai-shek and he named the island the “National Republic of China” after his defeat against Mao Zedong, the founder of the “People’s Republic of China”, it was supported by the US. US support held China’s seat in the United Nations until 1971.

The recent visit of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, to Taiwan paved the way for the visits of other US and non-American officials. Following these meetings, there was talk of selling weapons worth 1.1 billion dollars to Taiwan and accepting it as a non-member ally in the NATO. On the other hand, daily Chinese military movements in the Taiwan Strait increased and the news spread that Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, is planning to return Taiwan to China during his presidency.

Considering that the importance of economic is not less than strategic calculations, the US and China look at Taiwan as a treasure, because Taiwan is a rich and advanced country and in information and communication technology (which no modern advanced machinery can work without). It is considered one of the leading countries in the world and its annual income reaches about 700 billion dollars, of which 446 billion dollars comes from the export of information and communication technology goods.

Now the question is, has the time come for China to return Taiwan by force? While Mao Zedong said we are ready to wait a hundred years to return Taiwan without resorting to force? Another question is, if China tries to return Taiwan, what will be America’s reaction?

The clear answer is that until further notice, the US will only enter into a cold war with China; The war That Kissinger warns against and Farid Zakaria calls it a ‘costly failure’ which he says will cost more than the US Cold War with the Soviet Union.

The truth is that the US will calculate a thousand times before starting a hot war with China over Taiwan, although it pretends to be ready for it. In fact, the US must prove its deterrent power. If the US military can prove for sure that it can sink all Chinese submarines and military and commercial ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours, the Chinese leaders will not attack before attacking or blockade Taiwan, they will think before themselves many times.

However it must be admitted that the most important part of this conflict is ‘soft war’. Meanwhile the public slogans of the leaders of America and China are different; Xi Jinping’s slogan is ‘no conflict, no confrontation, but mutual respect for each other’s rules and cooperation to the level that both sides are satisfied’, but Joe Biden’s slogan is ‘competition at the right time, cooperation at the time of strength and Enemy when necessary’. Nevertheless histroy has it, dont judge based on slogans, because slogans are mostly deceptive.

Amer Ababakr
Amer Ababakr
Amer Ababakr holds Ph.D. degree, Cyprus International University. His major is in Politics in the Middle East. His fields of interests include international relations, international security, foreign policy, and ethnic conflict.