Tensions Rise As China Inches Closer to Invading Taiwan

By Julia Ordaz

Ever since the split in 1949, the Chinese government has made efforts to reabsorb Taiwan, but now tensions are at the highest they’ve ever been with China’s current president Xi Jinping making the absorption one of the nation’s top priorities. Eyes are also on President Biden after he pledged to provide further military assistance for Taiwan if it’s needed to stop an invasion. 

Jinping has always been an outspoken advocate, believing that “the historical task of the complete reunification of the motherland must be fulfilled, and will be fulfilled.” After he rose to power about 10 years ago China took a drastic turn towards an Authoritarian government, a complete contrast to Taiwan’s own system of government. Taiwan’s defense minister has said that tensions with China are at their worst in 40 years. 

Taiwan initially became self governed at the end of the Chinese Civil War. The Civil War was fought between the Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party from 1927-1949. During World War II China was separated into three sections controlled by the Communists, Nationalists (Republic of China), and the Japanese. The end of World War II marked the end of Japanese occupation in China and the Nationalists and Communists raced to conquer the newly freed territories and resources. 

Slowly the Nationalists began to fall and eventually retreated, relocating its government’s headquarters to an island just off the coast of the Chinese mainland. Currently Taiwan is a democratic nation with elected officials, and home to approximately 23.5 million people. 

The Taiwan Strait separates the two nations but the distance has proven unable to quell the tension. 

Previously the United States had only been supplying Taiwan with the resources necessary for defense, but during a press conference on May 23, 2022 Biden responded to a reporter asking if he “was willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan?” He answered that he is, suggesting the move of American troops into the nation. The following day Biden insisted that the U.S won’t be changing its policies and will continue to follow its strategic ambiguity policy. 

Many were quick to compare the circumstances in Taiwan to Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. The key difference is that Ukraine is a sovereign nation, while Taiwan’s sovereignty belongs to China. As it stands the Chinese government and its supporters deny Taiwan’s secession, claiming that the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens must be the ones to decide the island’s fate.

Xi Jinping himself has been careful not to criticize Russia’s leaders, hoping to maintain a good relationship with them. On a phone call with Russia’s president Vladmir Putin, Jinping was careful not to use the word “invasion,” and instead expressed support for reunification, or “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.” However, Chinese media isn’t hesitant to show the devastated Ukrainian streets whilst the Russian media heavily censors the invasions’ coverage. 

Experts say that China is watching Russia closely, figuring out what strategies lead to drawbacks, and which lead to victory.  A Russian victory could be the sign China needs to go through with their own invasion. 

As China inches closer towards overtaking Taiwan whose people are in obvious opposition, the future of the island becomes more and more in peril. 

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