In reality, Beijing is trying to prevent a military war with Taipei over the island’s future. However, the growing interest in Taiwan from Europe and the United States has left the communist regime stranded and helpless.
The Chinese government’s response was both predictable and unambiguous. On the same day that Taiwan’s president stated in an interview with CNN that US military forces help Taiwan’s government, the Chinese Foreign Ministry chimed in with a statement. According to a ministry spokesman, “We firmly oppose official and military ties in any form between the US and the Taiwan region, and oppose the US interference in China’s internal affairs.”
Tsai’s interview statement and Beijing’s response are the latest twists in a growing dispute between China and the West over how to deal with Taiwan, a 23.5 million-strong island republic that the People’s Republic considers a wayward province.
The West is attempting to reconcile with Taiwan.
Many EU parliamentarians and individual member states want closer ties with Taiwan; US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called on UN member states on Tuesday to support Taiwan’s “meaningful participation throughout the UN system and in the international community,” and President Joe Biden has assured Taiwanese military support in the event of armed conflict with China. However, Biden was forced to withdraw after adding that the US has committed itself to such support. Because such a compulsion does not exist. However, the White House’s stance is unmistakable: Taiwan is increasingly becoming Washington’s focus.
The more aggressive behaviour of the Chinese government on the world stage, as well as increasing internal political pressure from the autocratic system, are two reasons why the West’s gaze is rapidly gravitating toward the democratically ruled Taiwan. Above all, the persecution of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the action in Hong Kong are forcing politicians in western capitals to grow more distant from Beijing.
However, the west is walking on thin ice. The United States and European countries have all agreed to a one-China policy that effectively precludes Taiwan’s independence. As a result, Beijing is wary of conversations like the one concerning a prospective bilateral investment pact between the European Union and Taiwan, because such a deal could lead to different interpretations of Taiwan’s status. A number of EU MPs are fighting for such an agreement, which the Taiwanese government is pushing for.
Blinken’s call for Taiwan to get more involved in the UN system is most likely intended to be controversial. Taiwan has not been a member of the United Nations since China took over its seat in 1971. Taiwan would have no chance if the 193 UN members were allowed to vote on membership. Blinken’s move enraged a representative for the Chinese embassy in Washington, who feared “wrong signals to the “Taiwan independence” forces in any form.” Beijing is also concerned about a future misinterpretation of the island republic’s status.
China has reached at a dead end
The situation could not be more serious, because the Chinese leadership has guided itself into a dead end from which there is essentially no way out. Taiwan is barred from attending UN civil aviation sub-organization meetings at China’s request. Despite its somewhat successful Covid-19 strategy, the island state is also barred from attending World Health Organization meetings. Taiwan is garnering sympathy from Western leaders in response to Beijing’s harshness.
The fact that the formula “one country, two systems,” according to which Hong Kong should be governed, with Beijing’s harsh crackdown on the former British crown colony as a blueprint for a unification of the People’s Republic with Taiwan, has probably finally done has contributed to the hardening of fronts between China and the West on the Taiwan question. Of course, Beijing might wait and hope for the national KMT party to win the Taiwanese elections in 2024. This would likely re-establish the possibility of a political rapprochement between China and Taiwan. However, from today’s perspective, the Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s opposition party, is exceedingly unlikely to win the election.
As a result, Beijing’s latitude in dealing with Taiwan is dwindling, while the risks of a military war are rising. China’s leader of state and party has never shied away from using military force to bring the country together if things did not go his way. The Chinese Air Force flew roughly 150 sorties over many days at the end of September and the beginning of October, in part as a show of how serious he is, during which fighter jets infiltrated the Taiwanese air defence zone.
Xi backs strike against Taiwan
For such a strike against Taiwan, Xi enjoys widespread support. Above importantly, many young people consider him as the only Chinese politician with the required mettle to bring about a union by force of weapons if necessary, propelled partly by a nationalism fed by the government.
Even if the nationalist “Global Times” is already warning of counterattacks in response to the American military presence in Taiwan and threatening fresh exercises, Beijing is not interested in violent conflict at this time. Rather, the rulers are focused on forming global relationships, particularly with other rising nations. In the coming years, China should also become more economically and technologically self-sufficient. According to the calculations, any penalties imposed by the West in the case of an attack on Taiwan would be less damaging.
In the next weeks, however, tensions between the West and China over the Taiwan problem are certain to rise. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu is now in Europe, visiting the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Brussels, among other cities. According to the “South China Morning Post,” a group of EU MPs will visit Taiwan in the coming week for talks.
Image Credit: Getty
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