Tensions escalated between China and Taiwan on China’s national day as more than 100 Chinese military jets overran the air defense of Taiwan. China marks its national day on 1 October as on this day, the People’s Republic of China came into existence in 1949.
While China claims Taiwan as its own and has repeatedly aimed at reunification, Taiwan, on the other hand, has said that it will defend the sovereignty of the nation. Moreover, China has hinted that they will not be shying away from making a military invasion of Taiwan to complete the reunification.
The Chinese aim of reunification is their policy of One China. It is a diplomatic declaration that there is only one Chinese government, an attempt to undermine the self-governing state of Taiwan and give a message to the world that it is a province of China.
History of Relations between China and Taiwan
The two states share a complex history borne out of a civil war. It started in 1945 as Kuomintang (KMT), which represented the Government of China, clashed with the Chinese communist party and its forces for control of the entire China. However, the communists achieved a decisive victory in the war and forced the Kuomintang to go towards the island of Taiwan.
Mao Zedong took over the leadership of the People’s Republic of China with its capital at Beijing. Similarly, Chiang Kai Shek, with two million soldiers who fought alongside him, went across the Taiwan Strait and founded the Republic of China government as they took over the region of Taiwan.
Divided by Taiwan Strait, both the Governments claim their legitimacy over entire China since the bifurcation of the total area of mainland China took place. However, there is a huge difference between the strength of both the Chinese territories. While China has the world’s largest standing military and is an Asian superpower, Taiwan has a tiny population of 23 million and a defense system with around 0.3 million soldiers.
Moreover, there are just a few countries that recognize the independence of the Taiwan government. Instead, they prefer to give legitimacy to the People’s Republic of China with Beijing as the capital of the entire China. Not even the United Nations recognize Taiwan as a separate country.
US Angle in China-Taiwan Relations
The United States of America does not recognize Taiwan and agrees with the One China policy, where Taiwan is considered not an independent territory but a breakaway province of the People’s Republic of China. However, the USA does have a decent relationship with Taiwan that is not official.
Under this, the USA maintains that they will interfere in any attempts of the People’s Republic of China to overrun the territory of Taiwan; this was confirmed by Jake Sullivan, who is the USA’s national security advisor. He was quoted saying – “The US would stand up and speak out over any actions that might undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Back in 1996, China had tried to sabotage the Taiwan Presidential Elections with its testing of missiles. Instantly, the USA had sent aircraft in the region to deter the Chinese from taking any decisive decision over Taiwan.
Moreover, Taiwan is surrounded by Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Hong Kong, which are all allies of the USA. Any attempt by China to overtake Taiwan by force will immediately affect its neighbors and entire East Asia.
Also, all three, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, are dependent on the USA to protect their sovereignty. Hence direct Chinese presence in the neighborhood of these countries as an expansionist force will bring the USA into the picture as chances of a Sino – American military face-off cannot be ruled out in that case.
Attempts by Others to Counter China
Considering that the South China Sea is said to have a large quantity of oil and natural gas reserves, China tries to control it unilaterally. The USA, UK, and Australia have signed a defense deal known as AUKUS pact to counter this. By this deal, the US and UK will help Australia deploy a nuclear-powered submarine in the Pacific Region.
Since this aims to restrict China in the Pacific region, China has called the defense deal an attempt at disturbing the regional peace.
Sino-Australian relations took a hit in the last few years, despite the fact that China is one of the biggest trading partners of Australia. With Australia now getting a Nuclear Submarine, the relations between the two countries are likely to erode further.