Taiwan between the two great powers: how are disputes on the island today

Located just 300 km from China, the island nation of Taiwan is one of the main targets of the “historic mission of Chinese reunification”, in the words of dictator Xi Jinping. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the West has been more concerned about a possible attack by the Chinese giant on Taiwan. And the United States declared that it will spare no effort to protect the island.

Between the two largest world powers, the Indo-Pacific region is strategic for both countries. Therefore, there are Chinese military ships circling around the territory, at the same time that there are more men and women of the American army than in any other region of the world: there are about 300 a thousand soldiers.

The United States has already declared that the Indo-Pacific islands are at the “heart of the great American strategy”, Taiwan being the main one, as stated by the Secretary of Defense of the United States. USA, Lloyd Austin. On the other hand, last month his counterpart in China, Wei Fenghe, threatened: “if anyone tries to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will not hesitate to start a war, whatever the cost”.

In addition to the historic tug of war in the region and imperialist disputes, today the United States and China compete for Taiwan within a technological Cold War involving 5G internet. This fight between the two richest countries in the world, in fact, silently drags their allies towards yet another division of two major world blocs.

What does the war in Ukraine has to do with the disputes over Taiwan

Ricardo Fernandes, risk analyst at ARP Digital and NATO specialist, considers that “only the West is thinking that there is a war against Ukraine”. For him, it is a conflict between ideological currents and Russia’s neighbor was just the country available at the moment to become the scapegoat.

With NATO, the countries of the European continent that who are part of the alliance end up being dragged into conflicts involving the West. Among other consequences, through this geopolitical movement, “the US closes the doors of Europeans to the 5G market in China”, Fernandes points out.

In the fight for leadership in the development of technology, the Americans dominate the data processing and the Chinese have the most control over antenna construction. Meanwhile, Taiwan is the world’s leading chip producer (92% of chips used by Americans are exported from the island).

Disputes at Sea: War Scenario

China has deployed warships of more than

meters long in the strait between Taiwan and China to challenge the US Navy. “China has the sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Taiwan Strait,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in June. The statement goes against the Convention on Maritime Law, which delimits territorial waters at 22 Km from the coast of the countries.

A Chinese official press also announced that Jinping authorized the country’s navy to act for the “protection of national security”. The Chinese Ministry of Defense said it would be ready for war in the event of Taiwan’s declaration of independence, which is not surprising, but makes clear the Chinese dictatorship’s intention to formalize a larger conflict to dominate the region.

The US president, Joe Biden, declared himself ready to militarily defend Taiwan, when he visited Tokyo last month.

The foreign ministers question whether Chinese movements at sea whether they are just ideological propaganda or whether it really is an aggressive military move. “Everything will depend on the determination of the Americans and the navies to exercise freedom of navigation in the strait”, says Mathieu Duchâtel, director of Asian content at the Institut Montaigne to the newspaper Le Figaro.

“If ships and military planes from the Asian continent completely control the strait, Taiwan will become just a piece of the Chinese Army”, completes Duchâtel.

Whose is Taiwan?

The positioning of the Taiwanese nation itself makes little noise internationally. The country’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, does not dare cross the line of the declaration of independence and the presidential elections only take place again in 2024.

The island of 24 million inhabitants considers itself independent since 1949, when the then Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek took refuge in Taiwan after being defeated by the communist army of Mao Zedong, but no great power today recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign country.

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