Taiwan Conundrum in the Transiting Geo-politics

by Abdul Basit

The US State Department approved the possible sale of “military-technical assistance” worth $108 million for Taiwan. United States military cooperation is itching China, and despite her vows for peaceful rise may opt for a hard power exercise to reunite Taiwan.

The US is the torchbearer of the liberal order and the sole superpower is experiencing a downfall. The rising powers want a greater share of authority. In fact, in today’s world, we are experiencing another age of power transition. Multiple odds and evens are happening subsequently on the international horizons. China is an emerging superpower with various strategic domains to her interest in the region and across the globe. One of the vital national interests of China is her “One China Policy”, Taiwan is an unalienable part of the very policy.

China is the world’s most populous state with 1.4 billion people. The end of the cold war marked the beginning of a new mode of conflict which was ideological, primarily the western democracies against the communist bloc. The end of the civil war in 1949 was the benchmark of Communist party rule over China. The Republican forces fled to Taiwan and marking the beginning of a decade-long conflict. China aspires to reunite Taiwan under the “One China Policy” either through diplomacy or the use of force, hence apparently it becomes evident that Beijing is seriously considering Taiwan issue as its internal issue. US military officials have also said that Beijing may seek a military solution within the next few years.

Understanding the matter better

Only 15 countries have recognized the sovereignty of Taiwan, even though they do not recognize Taiwan but in recent years the US has increased its political, military, and economic cooperation with Taiwan. The most visible example of it was the visit of the US speaker of the House of Representatives in Taipei, it gives a clear identification polarized policy approach within the decision-maker faction of the US. Pelosi is among the harsh critics of the Chinese stance over Taiwan.

The visit was initially strongly contested by the Chinese representatives, China’s foreign minister called US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “manic, irresponsible and irrational”.Tzu-Yun Su, an analyst at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan, said China’s military exercises were intended as “strategic psychological warfare” targeting Taiwan, and a sign that Beijing wants to “prevent the US military from supporting Taiwan.”

According to the US Department of State As a leading democracy and technological powerhouse, Taiwan is a key U.S. partner in the Indo-Pacific. The United States is Taiwan’s primary military backer, selling Taipei much-needed weapons and defense tech. For decades, Washington has sold arms to the island under the Taiwan Relations Act, which allows for the supply of “defensive” weapons. Taiwan has ordered at least $17 billion (€16.65 billion) worth of US military equipment since 2019. This includes an $8 billion order of 66 F-16 fighter jets under former President Donald Trump.

The US State Department approved the possible sale of “military-technical assistance” worth $108 million for Taiwan. United States military cooperation is itching China, and despite her vows for peaceful rise may opt for a hard power exercise to reunite Taiwan. Therefore, China could go for a military solution to resolve the issue. However, in a recent, communist conference Chinese president mentioned peaceful unification; nevertheless, he did not rule out the use of force.

Furthermore, at a meeting of Southeast Asian countries, Wang Yi defended China’s military drills in the seas around Taiwan, held in response to the visit. However, later on, China tried to diffuse the hostility and extended some soft statements amid her stance incorporating peaceful rise. Perhaps China wants to refrain from conflicts, as it would surely deteriorate her economic plans. Taiwan is indeed necessary for China to expand its global footprint. If China becomes able to build up a military base in Taiwan, it would help her in the fluent navigation towards the Pacific.

Mitigating Chinese concerns over maritime trade routes in the Pacific

Taiwan is also significant for Washington, if Taiwan falls to China, the US’s tech industry would deteriorate. Taiwan is indeed the most valuable island of the 21st century. While considering the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, it becomes empirically evident that despite ideological alignments the US never actively jumped into the conflict, rather exercising proximity through military aid and financial funding. Russia is a revisionist power and her deterrence has prevented Ukrainian allies, particularly the US from actively participating in a war. Most likely the US would refrain from any military adventure in the Strait of Taiwan amid the nuclear capacity of China.

Although China is also enjoying a dominant role in the contemporary international structure, the war in Ukraine is also a lesson for China because it did not go as it was planned, and its ripple effects were felt across the world. Secondly, China is also using the Ukraine war as an opportunity to improve its military capabilities. The war in Taiwan will be more devastating for the world than the Ukraine Conflict.

China is the leading trade partner and production hub of the world. The disruption of the supply chain in the strait would be fatal for the global economy. In addition, an armed conflict in the Strait of Taiwan would act as a catalyst to halting the various aspects of the global economy ranging from smartphones, and car production to TV and refrigerators making. During Covid-19 the disruption in the supply of microchips was experienced, however, the potential crisis would require a strong epithelial layer because it would entail mass global downgrading of the industry to older generation solutions and bring more primitive products back to the market.

The ongoing geopolitical equations provide that, the Asia Pacific will be hotly contested and prevailing conditions can lead to a warlike situation involving the respective stakeholders. Power transition has never been peaceful, however, China depicts a peaceful rise in her policy behavior negating US’s various provocations. Hence, the world cannot afford another conflict between the two leading economies of the world. It can hurt every aspect of human life. Therefore, it is the need of the hour that the US should not change the status quo in Taiwan and should follow the One-China policy.

The writer is an Assistant Research Officer at the Center for International Strategic Studies AJK. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir